Bitter cold arctic air sets dozens of record lows in the Midwest and Plains

By Weather.com

The second of two arctic blasts in the past week has plunged into the nation's midsection and will remain in place to start the new workweek.

More than two dozen record lows have been set in the Midwest and Plains this weekend with actual air temperatures in the 20s and 30s below zero, while wind chills have plunged into the minus 40s at times. Subzero low temperatures have been observed as far south as Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle Sunday morning.

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People walk bundled up from the cold on Wall St. during the morning commute in New York City, U.S., December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
People walk bundled up from the cold through Times Square in New York City, U.S., December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 17: A man walks through the snow along a Brooklyn street on December 17, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. New York City saw the first snow accumulation of the season on Saturday morning. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A plane lands at Reagan National Airport during a lull in an ice storm in Arlington, Virginia, U.S. December 17, 2016. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
A person crosses Delancey Street during morning snow in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. December 17, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A man walks his dog through the snow in Bruce Park in Greenwich, Connecticut, December 17, 2016, where temperatrures were 29 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 Celsius). Canada and the northern United States were suffering their first brutal cold spell of the season Friday, after a frigid mass of Arctic air -- the dreaded 'Polar Vortex' -- settled over the region. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
A truck makes its way on Interstate 95 near Bruce Park in Greenwich, Connecticut, December 17, 2016, where temperatrures were 29 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 Celsius). Canada and the northern United States were suffering their first brutal cold spell of the season Friday, after a frigid mass of Arctic air -- the dreaded 'Polar Vortex' -- settled over the region. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A family walks through the snow in Bruce Park in Greenwich, Connecticut, on December 17, 2016, where temperatrures were 29 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 Celsius). Canada and the northern United States were suffering their first brutal cold spell of the season Friday, after a frigid mass of Arctic air -- the dreaded 'Polar Vortex' -- settled over the region. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
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As the cold front sliced through Texas and Oklahoma Saturday, many locations dropped 40 to 50 degrees in a matter of hours.

Daily record lows for Dec. 17 were set late Saturday night in the following cities (new record set is shown):

  • Colorado: Pueblo (-19 degrees smashed previous record of -10 degrees); Denver (-15 degrees); Colorado Springs (-14 degrees)
  • Kansas: Garden City (-13 degrees smashed previous record of -1 degree); Dodge City (-8 degrees); Russell (-7 degrees)
  • South Dakota: Aberdeen (-32 degrees smashed previous record of -24 degrees); Watertown (-29 degrees); Mobridge (-28 degrees); Rapid City (-23 degrees - tie)
  • Nebraska: Valentine (-27 degrees); Broken Bow (-18 degrees); North Platte (-17 degrees); Grand Island (-13 degrees); Imperial (-14 degrees - tie); (Hastings -11 degrees - tie)
  • New Mexico: Clayton (-5 degrees)
  • North Dakota: Bismarck (-31 degrees smashed the previous record of -27 degrees)
  • Texas: Amarillo (0 degrees); Dalhart (0 degrees)

Sunday morning, daily record lows for Dec. 18 were toppled in the Plains and Midwest (new record set is shown):

  • Iowa: Sioux City (-20 degrees)
  • Kansas: Dodge City (-16 degrees)
  • Nebraska: Valentine (-31 degrees); Grand Island (-15 degrees); Hastings (-13 degrees)
  • South Dakota: Aberdeen (-37 degrees); Huron (-31 degrees); Sioux Falls (-27 degrees); Mitchell (-24 degrees - tie)

Only one other December day has been colder than the minus 16 degree reading observed Sunday morning in Dodge City, Kansas, since records began there in 1874.

Huron, South Dakota, saw its coldest low temperature since Feb. 3, 1996 on Sunday morning. The minus 37 degree reading in Aberdeen, South Dakota, Sunday morning was accompanied by a wind chill of -59 degrees.

(MORE: What the Wind Chill Really Means)

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Forecast: Bitter Cold Continues Early Week, Then Some Relief

Frigid temperatures will continue to start the new workweek before returning to near mid-December averages by Wednesday. Here's an overview of the forecast.

(MAPS: 10-Day Forecast)

Sunday:

  • Afternoon readings will be 15-35 degrees below average from Texas to Minnesota. Some cities in the Upper Midwest may not rise above zero degrees.
  • Wind chills will be as cold as the 40s degrees below zero, especially in the northern Plains and Upper Midwest.

Monday:

Bitter cold temperatures will remain locked in to start the new workweek with lows 20-40 degrees below average from the Great Lakes to Texas. Morning readings will be in the single digits, teens and a few 20s below zero in the Upper Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes, including Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis.
Potential Record Lows Monday (record to beat is shown): Chicago (-14 degrees); Detroit (-6 degrees), South Bend, Indiana (-9 degrees)

Tuesday-Thursday:

Much of the Plains, Midwest and East will see temperatures rebound to near or above average as the arctic air retreats.

Arctic Cold Round #1 (RECAP)

Great Falls, Montana, recorded its tenth straight day in a row with subzero lows on Wednesday morning. That is longest such streak there since February 1996.

Thursday morning, subzero low temperatures were recorded as far south as Iowa, northern Illinois and northern Indiana. Winds chills in the 20s and 30s below zero were widespread throughout the upper Midwest.

Chicago saw its first December subzero low temperature since Dec. 24, 2013. The mercury plunged to 20 degrees below zero in Grand Forks, North Dakota, making it the coldest December reading in the city since Dec. 23, 2013.

Temperatures held in the 20s on Thursday afternoon along the Interstate 95 corridor from Boston to Washington D.C. A large number of cities from the interior Northeast to the Great Lakes and upper Midwest saw afternoon readings in the single digits or teens, including Chicago, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh.

Friday morning was the coldest for many Northeast cities, with lows in the single digits above and below zero in parts of upstate New York, northern/western Pennsylvania and New England. A daily record low of 2 degrees below zero was set Friday in Syracuse, New York.

Wind chills were in the single digits, teens and even a few 20s below zero across the interior Northeast and New England as of early Friday morning.

Portland, Maine set a daily record cold high temperature on Friday with a high of only 9 degrees.

Cold Perspective

  • Boston: Temperatures dropped to 4 degrees Friday morning, making it the lowest December temperature in the city since 1989.
  • Pittsburgh: The first single-digit December low temperature was reported Friday morning since Dec. 31, 2009.
  • Washington D.C.: Temperatures dropped to 17 degrees Friday morning making it the first time the mercury has dipped below 20 degrees there in December since Dec. 23, 2008.

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