UW-Eau Claire ranked fifth coldest college in the nation - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UW-Eau Claire ranked fifth coldest college in the nation


Eau Claire (WQOW) - University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students, faculty and staff can't pass the freezing footbridge without bundling up and braving the cold this winter season. Molly Bissen, a junior at UW-Eau Claire, said, "It's frigid. It's very cold. I can handle it because I'm bundled up. But if I wasn't wearing all these layers, it'd be terrible."

Another campus student agrees. Mekuria Zemede, a sophomore majoring in Biology, said, "During the winter time, I try to avoid it. (laugh) It's a little bit windy."

Even Wis. natives find it hard to face the blistering temps. Olivia Sitter crossed the footbridge to get to the other side of campus for work. "It's freezing! It's kind of like the wind is a razor blade, just going right through your clothes."

Add some wind over the Chippewa River, and you're bound to be cold to the bone.  Rachel Otte collaborated with Geography Professor, Joseph Hupy, during her undergraduate career on the footbridge to see what causes the subzero temperatures. She said "Basically what we found was that the bridge creates sort of a wind tunnel. So because of the way it's structured, it's sitting right above water, there's no obstruction stopping the wind."

UW-Eau Claire was just named the fifth coldest campus in the nation according to the College Prowlers' website. Joseph Hupy, an associate professor at UW-Eau Claire, said, "You just have all this cold air evaporating water and that's just going to drop temperatures significantly, ten, twenty degrees colder than what it usually would be."

While bundling up in layers may not make a fashion statement, at least it will keep you warm. Bissen said, "I have on, a long sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, a coat and then obviously gloves and a hat."

Other students agreed. "I have a sweater on, and then my R. A. (residential assistant) jacket, and then my north face. And then I have two pants on, and two socks...And I lost my glove so I've been keeping my hand in my pocket," Zemede said. Sitter said, "I'm wearing long underwear, and a bagillion of layers, and (shivers) just whatever else I can to cover any bits of skin."

The middle of the bridge is the coldest, but what causes it to be such a famous cold spot? Hupy explained north and northwest winds amp the frigid temperatures.  "It's kind of like a stew of the perfect ingredients for this. Because you have wind going down a confined valley with no friction and it gets constricted by those valley walls and so the wind velocity will pick up."

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