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Coldest Air of the Season

Nick Wiltgen
Published: March 14, 2013

Last Hurrah for Bitter Cold

The Arctic air first plunged into the Upper Midwest on Saturday, Jan. 19, reaching northern parts of North Dakota and Minnesota where temperatures tumbled throughout the day.

By Sunday, Jan. 20, parts of this region stayed below zero all day, including Grand Forks, N.D., and International Falls, Minn.

The bitter cold spread south and east on Monday, Jan. 21. Minneapolis-St. Paul logged a high of -2 that day, the first subzero high there since Jan. 2009; the streak of four years and six days without a subzero high was the longest on record there, and nearly a year longer than the previous record streak.

Des Moines, Iowa, also ended a record streak that day, reaching a low of 2 below zero and ending a 710-day streak without a subzero low, the longest such streak for Iowa's capital.

(MORE: Arctic Blast Won't Let Go)

On Tuesday, Jan. 22, both Chicago and Rockford, Ill., fell below zero for the first time in 711 days. For Rockford, this was the longest at-or-above-zero spell on record, and it was the fourth-longest in the Windy City.

Other lowlights Tuesday included lows of -30 in International Falls; -33 in Ely and Bigfork, Minn.; and -37 in Big Black River, Maine.

The big chill hit the East Coast on Tuesday as well; New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., all recorded their highs for the day between midnight and 1 a.m.

On the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 23, Reagan National Airport in the nation's capital fell to 15 degrees, its coldest reading since March 3, 2009. Philadelphia (12 degrees) and New York (11 degrees) noted their lowest temperatures since Jan. 24, 2011.

Other frigid readings Wednesday morning included -36 at Estcourt Station, Maine, and -24 at Saranac Lake, N.Y.

While winds were light over the lower elevations, the mountains of New England experienced high winds and brutal wind chills. The feels-like temperature bottomed out at 86 below zero on top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, and 63 below zero on Mount Mansfield in Vermont.

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