The Washington Post
The most severe early November cold snap in more than a century has plowed over the East Coast, where record low temperatures were set in the majority of population centers Wednesday morning.
Temperatures 20 to 30 degrees below normal covered much of the eastern third of the nation.
Wednesday morning’s onslaught of low temperature records were set from Texas to Maine, adding to more than a hundred other cold records set in the Plains, Midwest, and Tennessee and Ohio valleys on Monday and Tuesday. Weather.com reports at least 300 records have fallen since the cold snap invaded the Lower 48 on Sunday.
Additional records for record cold high temperatures were predicted Wednesday afternoon.
The Weather Service described the intensity of the cold as “comparable to the ‘Blue Norther’ of 1911” in which temperatures crashed from near 80 into the teens and 20s in the same day in some areas.
Much of the eastern U.S. witnessed colder weather than parts of Alaska Wednesday morning, as the jet stream - which divides cold and warm air - seesawed. And more than 75% of Lower 48 states endured subfreezing temperatures.
The chill penetrated all the way to the Gulf Coast where the rush of frigid air over the warm waters gave rise to a plume of sea smoke.
Pensacola, Florida, set a record low of 29 degrees - 42 degrees colder than the adjacent Gulf of Mexico water temperature.
Temperatures fell as low as 13 degrees in central Alabama, where record lows were widespread. Weather.com noted many low temperatures in the Deep South were colder than any observed over the entirety of last winter.
In the Appalachian mountains, temperatures plummeted into the single digits even as far south as the Mid-Atlantic. Snowshoe and Canaan Valley, ski areas in West Virginia, sank to 1 and 2 degrees. Mount Mitchell, North Carolina, also fell to just one degree. And on Mount Washington, New Hampshire, the mercury plunged to minus-17, a record low for the date, and 4th-coldest temperature on record during November on the soaring peak.
Temperatures were also impressively low in major cities. Among those setting record lows Wednesday morning? Atlantic City, New Jersey; Birmingham, Alabama; Buffalo, New York; Burlington, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit; Indianapolis; Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee; New York, Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Providence, Rhode Island; Rochester, New York; South Bend, Indiana; and Syracuse, New York.
Here are some particularly notable cold temperature milestones set since Tuesday:
-Chicago set records for both its high and low temperatures on Tuesday, 17 and 7 degrees. These high and low temperatures were both the coldest on record so early in the season.
-Milwaukee’s high of 19 degrees Tuesday was its coldest so early in the season.
-Nashville, Tennessee, set a record low of 17 Wednesday morning, after a high of just 29 on Tuesday, its coldest high so early in the season on record.
-New York City’s low of 23 degrees Wednesday morning was its third record low in the past week. On Tuesday, it set a record low of 25 and, on Friday, it tied a record low of 29
The cold was not confined to the Lower 48, but also chilled eastern Canada where numerous record lows (around 5 degrees or minus-15 Celsius) were set Wednesday morning.
Abnormally cold weather has prevailed over the zone from the Mountain West to the Northeast for much of November. An index describing the severity of winterlike conditions, based on both snow and cold, classified conditions as “extreme.”
Some of the cities experiencing these extreme winter conditions include Buffalo, New York; Detroit; Louisville, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; Milwaukee; Chicago; Kansas City; Des Moines, Iowa; Minneapolis; Denver, and Boise, Idaho.
While the intensity of cold weather is forecast to ease somewhat in the coming days, temperatures will remain below normal over the eastern half of the nation through the weekend.
A milder weather regime may take hold around the second half of next week.