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Extremely cold temperatures across North America blamed for at least 7 deaths


Several blasts of very cold Arctic air affecting North America for over a week now are blamed for the deaths of at least 7 people in the United States. As long-lived cold outbreak continues across Canada and the Northern Plains, Great Lakes, Northeast, New England and Mid-Atlantic, US, freezing temperatures now reach all the way to southern Texas and central Florida. A brief respite is expected this week before another blast hits.

At least 7 people died over the past couple of days in the United States as record-breaking low temperatures caused by several blasts of very cold Arctic air hit North America. Two bodies with signs of hypothermia were found in Milwaukee, Sunday, December 31, one in Charleston, West Virginia and one near a dry-docked boat near the Missouri River in Bismarck, North Dakota. Two people were killed in a fiery head-on crash in Oregon and one in Idaho after the driver tried to pass and lost control on Interstate 90 near Coeur d'Alene on December 29.

Wind chills between -45 to -51 °C (-50 to -60 °F) have been recorded in the Dakotas and northern Minnesota this weekend. The lowest temperature so far has been measured in Embarrass, Minnesota at -42.7 °C (-45 °F) on December 31. The coldest wind chill was measured in Hettinger, North Dakota at -50 °C (-58 °F) on December 31.

Numerous temperature and snow records have been broken since December 25 and meteorologists warn more could fall today and before the end of the week. Heavy lake-effect snow continues downwind of the Great Lakes.

List of notable records broken since December 25

Monday, January 1, 2018

-36.6 °C (-34 °F) was recorded in Sioux City, Iowa late December 31 into January 1, setting and new daily record low (for December 31 and January 1) and marking the city's coldest temperature since December 23, 1989.

According to Weather.com, the New Year's Day morning daily record lows include: -35 °C (-31 F) in Watertown, New York; -28.3 °C (-19 °F) in Des Moines, Iowa; -28.3 °C (-19 °F) in Moline, Illinois, -26.1 °C (-15 °F) in Syracuse, New York; -20 °C (-4 °F) Buffalo, New York; and -18.8 °C (-2 °F) Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (minus 2 degrees).

Numerous cities saw record-cold high temperatures on January 1. New York City recorded a high of -7.2 °C (19 °F), breaking the old record of -4.4 °C (24 °F) set in 1940. Chicago reached -17.2 °C (1 °F), breaking the old record of -15 °C (5 °F) set in 1969. Charleston, South Carolina registered -1.1 °C (34 °F), breaking the old record of -7.2 °C (45 °F) set in 2001. Portland, Maine recorded -12.2 °C (10 °F), breaking the old record of -10.5 °C (13 °F) set in 1967.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wausau, Wisconsin, set a new daily record-cold high temperature -20 °C (-4 °F) at minus 4 degrees, breaking the previous record of -3 °C (-19 °F) set in 1968.

Record lows were set in Huron, South Dakota (-32.7 °C (-27 °F)), Bangor, Maine (-31.1 °C (-24 °F)), and Flint, Michigan (-23.8 °C (-11 °F)). Record low was tied in Binghamton, New York at -19.4 °C (-3 °F).

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Glen Falls, New York registered -29.4 °C (-21 °F), for the third day in a row setting a new daily record low temperatures. 

With -26.1 °C (-15 °F), Fargo, North Dakota registered the coldest high temperature since January 2004.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Daily record lows were set for the second day in a row Friday in Glens Falls, New York (-28.3 °C (-19 °F)), Watertown, New York (-17 °C (-27.2 °F)), and Augusta, Maine (-15 °C (-26.1 °F)), as well as New York's JFK and La Guardia airports (both -11.1 °C (12 °F)).

Also for the second day in a row, both JFK (-5 °C (23 °F)) and LaGuardia (-5.5 °C (22 °F)) set daily record-cold high temperatures Friday.

On the same day, Worcester, Massachusetts registered a high of -13 °C (8 °F), breaking the previous record.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Boston, Massachusetts recorded -11.2 °C (12 °F), breaking the previous record of -7.7 °C (18 °F) set in 1924 (the average for this day is 3.3 °C / 38 °F). Worcester, MA measured -13.8 °C (7 °F), breaking the previous record of -9.4 °C (15 °F) set in 1976 (the average for this day is 0.5 °C (33 °F).

Hartford, Connecticut recorded -11.6 °C (11 °F), breaking the previous record of -7.7 °C (18 °F) set in 1924 (the average for this day is 2.2 °C / 36 °F).

Providence, Rhode Island registered -10 °C (14 °F), breaking the previous record of -6.1 °C (21 °F) set in 1976 (the average for this day is 3.8 °C / 39 °F).

Flint, Michigan set an all-time December record-low temperature of -27.7 °C (-18 °F), breaking the all-time December low of -25.5 °C (-14 °F) recorded on December 27, 2017.

Alpena, Michigan, recorded -28.3 °C (-19 °F), making it the second-coldest December temperature on record there. 

In neighboring Canada,

Toronto, Ontario, registered -22 °C (-8 °F) without windchill factored in, breaking the previous daily low of -18.9 °C (-2 °F) set in 1960.

Muskoka Airport, Ontario, set a record low temperature of -36.4 °C (-34 °F), breaking the old record of -28.3 °C (-18.9 °F) set in 1963.

Montreal, Quebec, set a daily record low at -20.5 °C (-5 °F), breaking the old record of -19.5 °C (-3.1 °F) set in 1993.   

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

On Wednesday, December 27, International Falls in Minnesota measured -36 °F (37.8 °C), breaking its previous daily record low of -32 °F (-35.5 °C).

Lincoln, Nebraska set its new daily record low at -17 °F (-27.2 °C) and Norfolk, also in Nebraska, at -15 °F (-26.1 °C). 

Flint, Michigan set its all-time December low at -25.5 °C (-14 °F).

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

With a preliminary 157.9 cm (62.2 inches) of snow, Redfield, NY broke the Oswego County record for two-day snow total as of 17:47 EST on December 26 (22:47 UTC). The old record was 144.8 cm (57 inches) measured in Bennetts Bridge in February 2008.

On the same day, Detroit tied its daily record low of -4 °F (-20 °C) and Alpena, Michigan its daily record low of -16 °F (-26.6 °C).

Another 62.2 cm (24.5 inches) fell by Tuesday night on Erie, PA, bringing the total since December 23 to 159.7 cm (62.9 inches) and breaking the entire state of Pennsylvania 2-day total of 111.7 cm (44 inches), recorded on December 20 and 21, 1958. It also beat the 13-day record snowfall for Erie of 134.1 cm (52.8 inches) recorded from December 31, 1998 to January 12, 1999. Since the start of the month, the city saw more than 253 cm (99.6 inches) of snow, breaking its previous monthly record of 169.9 cm (66.9 inches) measured in December 1989. On average, Erie receives 257 cm (101 inches) of snow per year and 70.6 cm (27.8 inches) from December 1 – 31.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Erie, Pennsylvania hit the news this week after its all-time daily snowfall record got shattered on Monday, December 25, 2017. That day, a potent storm dumped 86.3 cm (34 inches) of snow at Erie Airport which is more than four times its previous record for December 25 – 20.5 cm (8.1 inches).

The amount also smashed the city's snowiest single day record of 50.8 cm (20 inches) recorded on December 11, 1956.

Featured image: Ocean View, DE – Rare Freezing Ocean Spray Delmarva on January 1, 2017. Credit: Live Storms Media

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