Ice and fire: extremes grip North America

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:16 PM GMT on January 16, 2009

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The lowest temperature ever recorded in the state of Maine occurred this morning, according to preliminary data from the National Weather Service. The temperature at Big Black River in northern Maine on the Canadian border bottomed out at -50F, besting the old record of -48°F. Here's the scoop from NWS:

At 0730 am EST this morning a USGS gage at Big Black River recorded a low temperature of -50F. This exceeds the current statewide record low temperature of -48F set on January 19th...1925 at Van Buren. This report is considered unofficial until a review of the equipment and data by the state climate extremes committee as to the validity of this report. If the committee ascertains that this is indeed a valid report...a separate public information statement will be issued at that time.


Figure 1. Temperature trace from the Big Black River, Maine USGS river gauge station, ending January 16, 2009. A record minimum of -50°F (-45.3°C) occurred. Image credit: USGS.

Figure 2. Minimum temperatures this morning for Maine. Image credit: National Weather Service, Caribou, Maine.


All-time state records are difficult to break. The last time a state record low was set was January 5, 1999, when Congerville, Illinois recorded -36°F. Only one state record high temperature has been set in the past the decade--the 120°F temperature measured in Usta, South Dakota on July 15, 2006.

This week's North American cold spell has been a notable one, with daily minimum temperature records falling in seventeen states, Sunday through Friday. A record low for the month of January was set Friday morning in Caribou, Maine, which recorded -37°F. This is the second coldest temperature ever recorded in Caribou, next to the -41°F recorded on February 1, 1962. Mason City, Iowa had it's lowest January temperature on record Friday morning, -31°F, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, had its all-time lowest temperature for any month Thursday morning, a frigid -29°F. Bismark, North Dakota had its second coldest temperature ever, -44°F, on Thursday morning. This was only 1° from the all time low of -45° on January 13, 1916 and again on February 16, 1936. Bismark is also on pace for their snowiest season on record (61.2" so far).

Record heat in Alaska and California
The temperature swings this week in Alaska have been astounding. At Nenana, in central Alaska, the high was -42°F on Monday, with a low of -52°F. On Thursday morning, the temperature shot up 106°F from Monday, topping out at a positively tropical 54°F--the warmest January temperature ever measured in Nenana. Several other Alaska stations also set record highs for the month of January this week. Record highs for the month of January were also set at four California airports:

San Jose 75°F January 12
Sacramento 70°F January 12
San Francisco 72°F January 13
Red Bluff 78°F January 13, 15, 16

More record highs than lows have been set at the 381 major airports across the U.S. so far this week, through Friday. You can look up all the records at the National Climatic Data Center's excellent U.S. Records web site. Records for this week:

Jan 16
------
9 maximum high temperature records (CA, OR, WA, WY)
20 minimum low temperature records (GA, IA, IL, IN, MI, ME, MN, NH, PA, VT, WI)

Jan 15
------
11 maximum high temperature records (CA, WA, NV)
11 minimum low temperature records (IA, ND, IN, ME, NE, NY, SD)

Jan 14
-------
14 maximum high temperature records (AK, CA, OR, NV)
8 minimum low temperature records (IA, MI, MN, ND, TX)

Jan 13:
-------
13 maximum high temperature records (CA, OR, AK, FL)
9 minimum low temperature records (IA, MI, MN, ND)

Jan 12:
-------
9 maximum high temperature records (CA, OR, WA)
2 minimum low temperature records (AK, ND)

Jan 11:
-------
7 maximum high temperature records (CA, OR, WA)
1 minimum low temperature record (CA)

What's causing all this wild weather?
As usual, a sharp kink in the jet stream is responsible for the wild weather we're having. A ridge of high pressure over Alaska is forcing the jet to bow northwards into northern Alaska, allowing warm air from the Hawaii area to stream northwards over the region. Whenever the jet contorts into such a pattern, there must be a return flow of cold air from the pole that develops. That is occurring over the eastern half of the U.S., bringing us our Arctic air blast. The -17°F at my house in Michigan yesterday morning was the coldest it's been since 1994, brrr!

Jeff Masters

Icy Ferns (verlos)
Ice outside my window
Icy Ferns
January Sauna (pjpix)
Sunny bright at 12:30 P.M. and minus 7 degrees F. Some geese and mallards "enjoy" a January sauna in East Dundee, IL. The Fox River is about 38 degrees right now ... relatively warm when compared with today's frigid air temperature.
January Sauna
Very Cold Morning (Melagoo)
-18C or -1F in Burlington, ON ... and a beautiful sun-rise too!
Very Cold Morning

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Quoting surfmom:
This feels like a trick question......


Nope.. would I do that to you :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
Ah, Press. What a lovely, Tender thing to say to you ailing daughter.
BIG loss of points there LOL
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Quoting presslord:
my wife just fetched my 20 year old daughter from her apartment at college....she has some sort of 'stomach bug'....I won no points when she got here and I said "If ya can't handle your booze, don't drink it!".....now everybody's all mad at me....


Your booze.. or her own?
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
Quoting Orcasystems:


Umm do you like your eggs sunny side up.. or easy over?
This feels like a trick question......
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
Quoting StormJunkie:
Don't think it will get quite that far south Orca. Even here the discussion sounds pretty iffy. Although they at lease mention the potential for accumulating snow...


Just needs to get to the pan handle.. hmm or even Tampa, and I would be very happy camper
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
my wife just fetched my 20 year old daughter from her apartment at college....she has some sort of 'stomach bug'....I won no points when she got here and I said "If ya can't handle your booze, don't drink it!".....now everybody's all mad at me....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Mom, see post 274
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Don't think it will get quite that far south Orca. Even here the discussion sounds pretty iffy. Although they at lease mention the potential for accumulating snow...
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Quoting surfmom:
.... yeaa I got one --Big black Mama -- she's got BREASTS


Damn.. where is that Halo polish gone.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
Surfmom. Eating your young ? If my kids were born as fresh kingfish, they'd be gonners.......
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if your cable or satellite service provider doesn't offer a channel called "Fit TV"....I'd highly recommend you contact them about adding it.....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting presslord:
Surfmom....Ya gonna fry up one of those yardbirds for me when I come visit?
.... yeaa I got one --Big black Mama -- she's got BREASTS
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
Quoting MissNadia:
Hey Pottery..do you make your Rum?
I'm just all ears for this one... I hope you don't use Glitters waste water
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
I saw it also...think on the Disovery or History channel...Gives me chills just to think of something like that happening.
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Surfmom....Ya gonna fry up one of those yardbirds for me when I come visit?
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting surfmom:
OMG -- I can see you guys are Hunters.... not nurturers.... Orca, isn't that like ummm ...eating your young???


Umm do you like your eggs sunny side up.. or easy over?
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
Quoting StormJunkie:
It'd only hang around for 12 hours or so press, you can deal with it. Need to take the jeep out and watch everyone trying to drive around down here.


Snow... Florida.. please say yes...
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
Quoting Orcasystems:



Hmm awful expensive sushi.. but its an option.
OMG -- I can see you guys are Hunters.... not nurturers.... Orca, isn't that like ummm ...eating your young???
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
Quoting MissNadia:
268
A few years I saw a program about that BIG crack in the island.... scared me.... I bought a weather radio with tsunami warning! better safe than sorry! LOL;


Have to send you back to anchorage.. you will be safe there.. ROFLMAO
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
Nadia. Make Rum ? Never thought about that.
Sounds like hard work to me, planting all that sugar cane and stuff.
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It'd only hang around for 12 hours or so press, you can deal with it. Need to take the jeep out and watch everyone trying to drive around down here.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Doing the Google, there are a lot of detractors from that theory.


I watched a show on it.. it sounded feasible
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
268
A few years I saw a program about that BIG crack in the island.... scared me.... I bought a weather radio with tsunami warning! better safe than sorry! LOL;
Member Since: July 27, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3003
Quoting surfmom:
I was just going to ask if you had another biscuit to leave on the blog...clearly you beat me to the punch..... you are soo harsh Presslord.... that's like suggesting one of my chickens for dinner LOL


Hmmmm chicken :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
Quoting presslord:
cold, raw, fish = sushi



Hmm awful expensive sushi.. but its an option.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26512
Quoting StormJunkie:
La Palma is the island that will one day split, half falling in to the Atlantic, and push a massive tsunami toward the entire east coast of the US correct?

Seems pretty real to me...


Doing the Google, there are a lot of detractors from that theory.
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Hey Pottery..do you make your Rum?
Member Since: July 27, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3003
SJ....shut up with the Lowcountry snow wishcasting....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
La Palma is the island that will one day split, half falling in to the Atlantic, and push a massive tsunami toward the entire east coast of the US correct?

Seems pretty real to me...
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I hear you, Skye.
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Yeah, I know what you mean, Surfmom.
And 21 yrs zipps by. And now, we could be sipping our own stash of 20 something year old, aged rum, while we try to convince them that drinking is not good for them..........
Its just not fair. We should have bought the barrel anyway...
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262. Skyepony (Mod)
Eric & 09S


Pottery~ the last surface trough was impressive & the MJO just swung wide & is headed our way. I wouldn't dig out the boards but it might be a topic.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 209 Comments: 39098
When I typed that Pottery I hesitated -- don't want Press going back to that again-- bad habits are so easy to return to
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
Evening all

Hope everyone is well. I see we have drunken fish in here tonight. Interesting.

Need y'all to help me out. How bout wishcast these snow percentages up for me.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Think you should bunker out with JFV :)


Ohhhhhh, boy!
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
After raising my first born -- I get the whole damn keg
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
"dress rehearsal" That pair of words conjured up ghastly images, of Presslord.....
Please dont use that kind of language........
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lol pottery...i liked that one!
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Mom, I could start hoarding anyway, just in case.
There was an old tradition here, that when your first son was born, you bought a barrel of rum, and stashed it somewhere. He was supposed to get it, on his 21 st B-Day.
Dont know what happened to that noble tradition....
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251, hahahahah. LOL
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Better to be bored, then boarding.... unless it's w/a surfboard -- I'm guessing it's just a dress rehearsal...but it's a good excuse to start hoarding Rum
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
The La Palma Tsunami is a very real thing. Especially if you live in West Palm Beach, or nearby.
Where are you, WPB ??
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Quoting pottery:
Talking about the Off Season. The GFS is fixing to create a tropical storm around here, 10 days out.
Should I be boarding up? Or just bored?


Think you should bunker out with JFV :)
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Talking about the Off Season. The GFS is fixing to create a tropical storm around here, 10 days out.
Should I be boarding up? Or just bored?
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Steelers are beating themselves...On another note I find interesting...does anyone believe in the La Palma tsumami scenerio?
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I beleive the Japanese like them flopping around on the cutting board
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
Quoting Orcasystems:

Glitter hell, I could use some sunshine... umm mind you.. now that your being shipped atm's kids..I think I will stay here.
OOOOPS, sorry NO KIDS, done with the kids -- I'll take whales, Captains, Pirates, Peter Pan wannabe's ...no kids.... I'm getting my second wind and wiping snotty noses is not on the list.
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
Quoting presslord:
"Eureka - "a fish rehab for Glitter""

Did 'Glitter' have a drinking problem? Drugs?


it's even more funny when you take a step back... drunk fish??? aaahhh... i love the offseason.
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241, this is getting macabre
Cant eat it yet Press, its still finning.....
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Quoting presslord:
cold, raw, fish = sushi
I was just going to ask if you had another biscuit to leave on the blog...clearly you beat me to the punch..... you are soo harsh Presslord.... that's like suggesting one of my chickens for dinner LOL
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
LOL Hurristat......
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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