An intense Arctic outbreak has brought rare May snow and record cold temperatures to parts of the northeast U.S. and Ontario, Canada, over the weekend. Cold temperatures are expected to remain for much of this week before warmer air returns to the eastern U.S., but temperatures in southern Ontario will remain on the cool side of seasonal.
On Saturday, May 9, 2020, parts of the northeastern U.S. woke up to heavy snow and cold temperatures, with some areas hitting below freezing. Cities from La Crosse, Wisconsin, to Fort Wayne, Indiana Cincinnati, and Baltimore all exceeded previous record lows.
Washington D.C. recorded 11.1 °C (52 °F), tying its low maximum record for May 9 with the one during 1877. Nashville, Tennesee, saw its coldest morning this late in the year since record-keeping started in 1871.
Several record lows were broken in areas including Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Central Park, where temperatures dropped into around -1 and -6 °C (20 and 30 °F).
Significant snowfalls were also recorded in upstate New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania; New Hampshire and Maine got a dusting, while Vermont recorded up to 23 cm (9 inches), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
"I know snow on May 9th isn’t a welcome sight for many Vermonters, just as we’re cautiously allowing outdoor recreation to get going again -- but this is just a snapshot in time," said Vermont governor Phil Scott. "Just like better weather is ahead, better days will come, as well."
Snow blanketed areas in New Jersey, including Sussex and Morris, which also reached Central Park in New York City. Snowfalls at this time of the year were last recorded in 1977, making it a rare occurrence.
The hardest-hit areas were hill town communities, such as Sugar Hill, New Hampshire, with 26.7 cm (10.5 inches). Around 5 to 8 cm (2 to 3 inches) fell in Berkshires, which was a major event as Massachusetts has not had measurable snow in May since 2002.
Dozens of sites set new record lows as temperatures pummeled below freezing. On Sunday, May 10, record lows were shattered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with a temperature of -1.1 °C (30 °F); Danville and Lynchburg in Virginia with the same temperature; Trenton, New Jersey with -0.6 °F (31 °F); Richmond, Virginia with 0 °C (32 °F), and Greenville, North Carolina with 1.1 °C (34 °F).
Cold temperatures are expected to remain for much of this week, before spring warmth starts to spread in around Thursday, May 14.
According to the National Weather Services (NWS), much-colder average temperatures will stick around for the central and eastern U.S. through Tuesday, May 12, while warmth continues in the Great Basin.
"Record cold minimum and maximum temperatures should be set from the Plains all the way to the Eastern Seaboard both Monday and Tuesday. Freeze Warnings and Frost Advisories are in effect across parts of the Midwest, with additional Freeze Warnings and Watches across the Appalachians into parts of the Northeast"
Meanwhile, in Canada, winter conditions were also felt, particularly in Ontario. Nine new daily records were set on Saturday over the province, according to The Weather Network. Toronto's low of -4.7 °C (40.5 °F) was its second-coldest May temperature.
Eight other daily records were shattered in the province, specifically in Windsor, Hamilton, Welland, Kitchener-Waterloo, Wiarton, Trenton, Peterborough and Ottawa.
Cold temperatures will persist into the beginning of the week. Beyond the weekend, another Arctic blast will move in early next week.
"As we head into the long weekend, a very warm pattern is expected over the eastern U.S. but we don't think that warmth will quite make it to southern Ontario," said Weather Network meteorologist, Dr. Doug Gillham, adding that temperatures will still be on the "cool side of seasonal," but will also be "warmer than what we are seeing this weekend."
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