Arctic Blast to Shatter Mid-November Cold Records
  • A strong cold front is plunging through the U.S.
  • This front will deliver the coldest air of the season so far for many in the eastern half of the country.
  • Numerous daily cold records for mid-November will be set.
  • A freeze is possible as far south as parts of the Gulf Coast.

A powerful arctic cold front is plunging through the U.S. and will deliver the coldest air of the season to the central, southern and eastern United States, shattering scores of mid-November records in the process.

The front was slicing through the Northeast and Southeast early Tuesday, with frigid temperatures by mid-November standards already in place across the nation’s mid-section.

Morning temperatures have already plunged to the single digits as far south as the Texas Panhandle, with some subzero lows in parts of the Northern Plains and upper Midwest.

Indianapolis plunged to the single digits Tuesday morning, the earliest in the fall they had ever done so in records dating to 1871.

Des Moines, Iowa, was flirting with 0 degrees Tuesday morning, among the earliest in the fall they had been so cold.

(MAPS: Current Temperatures | Current Wind Chills)

The front first arrived in the northern Plains and northern Rockies Sunday, plunged through much of the Plains and Midwest Monday.

Among daily record lows set Monday included minus-21 degrees in Turner, Montana, 13 degrees in Chicago and 16 degrees in St. Louis. Record cold highs set Monday included 8 degrees in Dickinson, North Dakota, and 18 degrees in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Temperatures on Monday afternoon stayed well below freezing as far south as the mid-Mississippi Valley and Central Plains. These were daytime highs more typical of January than November.

Even South Texas was involved, where a Monday heat index in the low 90s was followed by a Tuesday morning wind chill in the low 30s.

As of early Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service was forecasting over 360 additional daily cold records could be tied or set Tuesday through Thursday morning in the U.S., including both record lows and record cold high temperatures for a particular day.

Timing the Cold Blast

The next round of shivering temperatures arrived in the Northern Plains and upper Midwest Sunday and plunged quickly into the Southern Plains and Ohio Valley on Monday. The front will barrel through the East Coast and Deep South Tuesday, then through the rest of the Florida Peninsula by Wednesday.

The animation above indicates the timing of the arctic cold front. The contours show departures from average-high temperatures each day. The areas in the purple and pink contours will have the coldest air, relative to mid-November averages.

Tuesday’s highs may be the coldest on record for Nov. 12 over a widespread area from the Northeast and Great Lakes into the Ohio Valley and lower Mississippi Valley. Highs may be stuck below freezing as far south as Tennessee and in the 40s as far south as the lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.

(MAPS: 10-Day Forecast Highs and Lows)

The National Weather Service noted subfreezing high temperatures Tuesday in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Paducah, Kentucky, would be their record-earliest-in-season such occurrence, something more typical in mid-December.

Wednesday’s highs may still be stuck in the 40s in the Deep South and the 50s in parts of North Florida and the northern Gulf Coast.

Lows in the teens are expected Wednesday morning as far south as the Tennessee Valley.

The Deep South should see lows in the 20s Wednesday morning, and the season’s first freeze is possible along parts of the northern Gulf Coast, including Houston and New Orleans, by that time. Parts of North Florida will shiver with lows in the 30s Wednesday morning.

(MORE: When Your First Freeze Typically Arrives)

Lows in the interior Northeast should plunge into the teens, with 20s along the Interstate 95 corridor and coast by Wednesday and Thursday mornings. A few lows between 10 and minus 10 degrees are expected in northern New England by Thursday morning.

Well over 100 daily record lows will be threatened in the East and South Wednesday morning, and a smattering of daily records are possible in the Northeast Thursday morning.

As it turns out, a number of daily record lows for Nov. 12 and 13 that had stood since 1911 – which brought one of the most extreme cold fronts in U.S. history – are in jeopardy through Wednesday morning, including in Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Tulsa and St. Louis.

While another cold blast is expected to sweep into the Northeast this weekend, some relief from the cold air will gradually build into the Plains states this week into early next week.

(MORE: November 2019 U.S. Temperature Outlook)

Long Range Temperature Outlook

(This outlook, from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, shows the probabilities of above (tan, orange, red contours) or below (blue contours) average temperatures in the period specified. )

Similar to November 2018?

November 2018 was one of the 10 coldest Novembers on record for Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Mississippi. Kansas City, Missouri, shivered through its coldest November on record.

The only warmer-than-average areas last November were found along the West Coast, and in Alaska and Florida.

The upper-level pattern last year also brought a persistent southward dip in the jet stream over the central and eastern U.S., which led to the chilly November for much of the country.

Average State Temperature in November 2018

(Data: NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information)

The focus of the most anomalous cold and its impacts this year may be in different locations than November 2018, but the overall pattern suggests that a chilly November may be ahead for the second year in a row.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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