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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LOL Hurristat......
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24224
Quoting pottery:
Glitter should have known better.
Never mix your snow and ice......
See Pottery knows the deal!!!
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
cold, raw, fish = sushi
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
Quoting Orcasystems:


I think she had one to many of Surfmoms pyrate drinks
LOL...don't blame me Orca...she got sick on your watch -- I've been telling you to bring the tribe to Florida for months......and BTW my pyrate drinks warm the soul and spirit -- never had anyone go BELLY up on my watch
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
Quoting pottery:
Glitter should have known better.
Never mix your snow and ice......


that's a slippery slope... lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting presslord:
"Eureka - "a fish rehab for Glitter""

Did 'Glitter' have a drinking problem? Drugs?


Or was Glitter the drug??? lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Glitter should have known better.
Never mix your snow and ice......
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24224
Quoting presslord:
"Eureka - "a fish rehab for Glitter""

Did 'Glitter' have a drinking problem? Drugs?

SNOW AND ICE .......
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
Quoting presslord:
"Eureka - "a fish rehab for Glitter""

Did 'Glitter' have a drinking problem? Drugs?


I think she had one to many of Surfmoms pyrate drinks
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Addicted to Submergence......
Glitter, that is. Not me...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24224
Quoting surfmom:
You could FedEx Glitter down to me, once we warm up a bit..... you know for extended rehab.

Glitter hell, I could use some sunshine... umm mind you.. now that your being shipped atm's kids..I think I will stay here.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
You know, just reading these posts from you people, makes me feel Warm all over. LOL


Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24224
"Eureka - "a fish rehab for Glitter""

Did 'Glitter' have a drinking problem? Drugs?
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
Quoting surfmom:


If you want snow Geoffrey - open your freezer and scrap off the sides ....... maybe step inside...LOL
This SunBeachBunny has no yearning for the stuff.
The only good this cold brings are dead Florida Fleas, horse flies and....... that's about it.

I have two Mango Trees blooming inappropriately....... this will not be good for them at all.



Got 6 inches overnight...
You think that's cold? Try school being canceled on Friday because of -20 degree windchills. yay!!!
you should censor those mango trees... lol

good to see you again.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting surfmom:
You could FedEx Glitter down to me, once we warm up a bit..... you know for extended rehab.


Do you take 2 year old kids in? I've got mine in a box, ready to go!

(Ahh, here is the tape.)
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
You could FedEx Glitter down to me, once we warm up a bit..... you know for extended rehab.
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Come on mom...one day of snow in so. fla...is that so bad with the summers and hurricanes we put up with?


If you want snow Geoffrey - open your freezer and scrap off the sides ....... maybe step inside...LOL
This SunBeachBunny has no yearning for the stuff.
The only good this cold brings are dead Florida Fleas, horse flies and....... that's about it.

I have two Mango Trees blooming inappropriately....... this will not be good for them at all.

Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
Quoting surfmom:
Wow Orca -- It worked !! -- Geeze I am soo HAPPY, I could finally throw a good idea your way.... I just love being helpful... I am a pleaser. LOL

It was so funny yesterday...I'm staring at the horse water trough -- my brain is ticking -- "why is this capturing my attention..." then Eureka - "a fish rehab for Glitter"


We even named it after you.. more pictures in the comments section of my blog
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Wow Orca -- It worked !! -- Geeze I am soo HAPPY, I could finally throw a good idea your way.... I just love being helpful... I am a pleaser. LOL

It was so funny yesterday...I'm staring at the horse water trough -- my brain is ticking -- "why is this capturing my attention..." then Eureka - "a fish rehab for Glitter"
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
Come on mom...one day of snow in so. fla...is that so bad with the summers and hurricanes we put up with?
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11102
Quoting surfmom:
Bite your tongue -- all our tourists that basked in the sun would be upset....you know those Pastys, commonly known as CANADIAN BACON


French Canadians... not really Canadian Bacon as per say.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting Orcasystems:


I would be happy with a little flurry... ecstatic with an inch :)
Bite your tongue -- all our tourists that basked in the sun would be upset....you know those Pastys, commonly known as CANADIAN BACON
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
Quoting Drakoen:
Must be one potent system on the NAM here ;P
Link


"Day after tomorrow"
Member Since: March 8, 2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
Quoting Orcasystems:


I would be happy with a little flurry... ecstatic with an inch :)


This. :)
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Quoting surfmom:
Right you are Pottery.... I'm plotting those latitudes already -- just got to get YoungBuck into college and then bum, bum bummmm - I'm going south -- to a place where Wetsuits are an oddity and cold is 70 degrees.... Got two main locations I'm zoning in on, one has tequila the other Rum




Surfmom's Aquatic ReHab Centre
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting Drakoen:


No. There's no moisture for that.


I would be happy with a little flurry... ecstatic with an inch :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Right you are Pottery.... I'm plotting those latitudes already -- just got to get YoungBuck into college and then bum, bum bummmm - I'm going south -- to a place where Wetsuits are an oddity and cold is 70 degrees.... Got two main locations I'm zoning in on, one has tequila the other Rum
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
216. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
oops that dvorak intensity for Eric is T2.5 not 3.5
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 45211
Thanks Drak.... I didn't want to be the one to pop Orca's bubble.

Looks like I'm going to have a very hard week at working outside at the Polo barn. Will have to bran mash the horses again - to help avoid cold weather colic - All things will be stiff -- leather, my fingers and my bones ....

"Wishing can not bring Spring glory, nor cause winter to cease" Pawnee Proverb
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
LOL Surfmom.
That is too cold! You are just going to have to move South, you know.....
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24224
213. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Seychelles Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Warning Number SIX
TEMPETE TROPICALE MODEREE ERIC (06-20082009)
4:00 AM Runion January 19 2009
======================================

At 0:00 AM UTC, Moderate Tropical Storm Eric (994 hPa) located at 17.5S 49.9E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The storm is reported as moving southwest at 6 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T3.5

Gale-Force Winds
==================
20 NM from the center

Near Gale-Force Winds
====================
30 NM from the center extending up to 70 NM in the northeastern quadrant and up to 80 NM in the southeastern quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
12 HRS: 19.5S 48.9E - 30 knots (DEPRESSION OVERLAND)
24 HRS: 21.7S 48.8E - 35 knots (Tempte Tropicale Modere)
48 HRS: 26.6S 50.6E - 30 knots (DEPRESSION TROPICALE)
72 HRS: 31.9S 57.1E - (Extratropical)

Additional Information
========================
Scatterometric Data (ASCAT Pass of 17.50z shows some no contaminated 35 knots winds in the eastern semi-circle) and satellite data (curved band that measures 5.5/10 on enhanced infrared radar imagery) allow a DT at 2.5 . Consequently, the system has been named Eric by the Madagascar weather services. However convection is warmer since 20.30z probably due to the proximity of landmass.

System has maintained its southwest track at 6kts and should make landfall or pass very near the eastern coast of Fenerive/Tamative area of Madagascar within the next hours.

Available NWP models are in good agreement for this scenario with a southward track along the eastern coast of Madagascar. On this track vertical wind shear will be weak but system should not intensify due to interaction with land. Wind structure is dissymetric (greater winds extension in the eastern semi-circle).

Seychelles Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Warning Number FOUR
DEPRESSION TROPICALE 07-20082009
4:00 AM Runion January 19 2009
======================================

At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Depression (997 hPa) located at 21.4S 41.3E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The depression is reported as quasi-stationary

Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

Near-Gale Force Winds
======================
20 NM from the center extending up to 40 NM in the southern semi-circle

Forecast and Intensity
=======================
12 HRS: 21.1S 41.2E - 35 knots (Tempte Tropicale Modere)
24 HRS: 20.9S 41.4E - 50 knots (Forte Tempte Tropicale)
48 HRS: 20.5S 43.2E - 65 knots (Tropical Cyclone)
72 HRS: 22.3S 45.9E - 20 knots (DEPRESSION sur terre)

Additional Information
========================
System is beneath very favorable environmental conditions under the upper level ridge with a good low level inflow equatorward and a strengthening poleward one related to the rebuilding high pressure in the southwest.

System is expected to strengthen regularly and as the low level circulation center has a good presentation on the WINDSAT Pass at 15.48z, it does not seem unlikely that a rapid intensification spell could occur within the next 48/60 hours before the system makes landfall.

Most available NWP models show an eastern turn towards the wester coast of Madagascar but they are still some spread in both track and speed. Current forecast is based on a general consensus.

Interest along the southwestern coast of Madagascar should closely monitor the progress of this system.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 45211
Must be one potent system on the NAM here ;P
Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good Evening !!!
Cold Front Surf Alert - calling all Florida Polar Bears
Monday morning will awaken with surf for the GC. A long fetch across the gulf will setup and provide some choppy cold front surf to start the week. Looks waist high range on Monday building up to chest high on Tuesday. A good chance for cold clean leftovers Wednesday morning. Waist high swell with NNE winds and temps in the low to mid 40's by then. Keep in mind it's gonna be cold the whole time and your gonna want your full-suit, booties, hot water, whatever you got to warm you up.(Captain Jack Sparrow where are you?)* Have a good week.
*RUM
Not sure if I'm going to participate in this one -- the air temp and water temp are at my limits ( I don't think good when I'm freezing) If I get wet ... they'll hear me in Canada
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
Quoting Orcasystems:


Snow :)


No. There's no moisture for that.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Record lows for West Palm on Wednesday 32 and Thursday 28...both in 1985.


Snow :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting Drakoen:
Forecasted for overnight lows in the mid 30s here in South Florida. Been a while since we got down that low. Highs may not escape the 50s on Wednesday.


Snow :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting Drakoen:
Forecasted for overnight lows in the mid 30s here in South Florida. Been a while since we got down that low. Highs may not escape the 50s on Wednesday.


Member Since: July 19, 2008 Posts: 43 Comments: 4051
Quoting Skyepony:
ecmwf


Thanks. I'm going to be begging for alot more links during hurricane season.
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Record lows for West Palm on Wednesday 32 and Thursday 28...both in 1985.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11102
204. Skyepony (Mod)
ecmwf
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37796
Quoting largeeyes:
Any input on the possible east coast storm Tuesday? Local meteoroligist is saying it will be too far out to sea to affect us much here in coastal NC.


Depends on the model you go with. The GFS nothing but flurries for NC. The nam light accumulation. I heard the euro model was giving us a big storm but my computer crashed annd I've lost all my links so I havent seen it. Can someone give me the link to the euro model?
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Forecasted for overnight lows in the mid 30s here in South Florida. Been a while since we got down that low. Highs may not escape the 50s on Wednesday.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
201. GeoffreyWPB
11:34 PM GMT on January 18, 2009
Temps in the 30's for us folks in so. fla. this week. Then we warm back up to around 80 the following week. Love the Cold! Makes up for all those hot summers. Go Steelers!!!!
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11102
200. all4hurricanes
11:18 PM GMT on January 18, 2009
Quoting seflagamma:
Oh my goodness... this is about the 4th blog I have killed by posting in it today !


I'm sorry!!!

oh don't worry I kill blogs too but that could be because I usually post at 6 am but even so
Member Since: March 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2369
199. largeeyes
10:37 PM GMT on January 18, 2009
Any input on the possible east coast storm Tuesday? Local meteoroligist is saying it will be too far out to sea to affect us much here in coastal NC.
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1455
198. Orcasystems
10:23 PM GMT on January 18, 2009
Afternoon all.... Glitter (the sick Koi) has entered a new rehab Centre, further pictures are available in the comments section of my blog.

Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
197. DocNDswamp
9:31 PM GMT on January 18, 2009
Hey Skye!
Thanks for the MJO info, I hadn't looked at that in a while... Appears another factor in it's favor maybe... The forecasted sfc to upper pattern on several of the GFS runs looks conducive overall for a few days in that period... But it remains interesting speculation now...

"Ana above the Guyanas" has a nice ring to it, though!
Later all... ;)
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 94 Comments: 4792
196. Skyepony (Mod)
9:14 PM GMT on January 18, 2009
Hey all~ Hope that gfs is over done on the FL freeze~ been fairly consistant in theatning us down here in the south 1/2~ on the last day of the run, for days now.

On Ana the only thing in it's favor is the much warmer than normal patch of water there & the MJO has finally swung wide & headed this way.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 162 Comments: 37796
195. DocNDswamp
9:05 PM GMT on January 18, 2009
Hiya Vort!

Uh oh... I spoke too soon minimizing that S FL cold threat, lol...
Perhaps I should analyze the near term probabilities closer than the long range possibilities on the GFS... ;)
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 94 Comments: 4792
193. DocNDswamp
8:52 PM GMT on January 18, 2009
LOL, HGW and Gams... I think it's my fault for blog-killing with the GFS hype - at least you're providing the real thing, HGW!

Hey Gams,
LOL, your garden has more to fear from any potential cold threat over next few weeks or so, than any TS Ana... And that cold threat looks minimal for now...

More LOL, I still have my 3 "pet" cherry tomato plants, planted last May that - produced late summer... survived the floods of August... survived the torture of Gustav and Ike... regrew / made more tomatoes... have since suffered thru 15 Frosts and 4 light Freezes (had bountiful flowers in Dec)... and are still alive with several slow-to-ripen lil tomatoes on 'em now! Granted, they look pathetic and won't be displayed on Garden of the Month... but I'm proud of their tenacity!

Gotta run, some homegrown cauliflower are ready for plucking / consumption this eve...

PS - My apologies Jeff, for getting off-topic... Oh wait, I think I mentioned some weather in all that... ;)
Member Since: September 21, 2005 Posts: 94 Comments: 4792

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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.