On what was predicted to be the coldest morning of the week for the South and the coldest temperatures for the majority since the spring, more than 100 million people awoke on Wednesday under frost advisories, freeze watches, and warnings.
Southern cities awoke to a colder morning than northern ones because the cold air mass plunged south before extending east. Atlanta was colder than Cleveland, and Dallas was colder than Boston.
For the first time ever, Birmingham, Alabama, hit 32 degrees before Billings, Montana achieved the season’s first official freeze before that traditionally frigid city.
The coldest temperature since April 29 temperature in New York City’s Central Park dropped to 42 degrees, and Charlotte’s reading of 30 degrees set the fifth-earliest freeze in recorded history.
The majority of the cold alerts end by Wednesday midday, but some will last into Thursday morning, particularly in the Ohio Valley, along the Gulf Coast, and along the Southeast coast.
There were projected to be 50 record lows set on Wednesday morning due to temperatures that were 10 to 20 degrees below average. Wednesday’s highs are predicted to be below average as well, making the chilly afternoon feel more like mid-November than mid-October.
The first snowfall of the season across the Midwest and Great Lakes was also brought on by this chilly air mass. The early season snow also established records in numerous places.
In Marquette, Michigan, there were 18 inches, smashing the previous record for the most snowfall in two days during the month of October. Just over 5 inches of snow are generally recorded in the city in October.
This week’s snowfall in Madison, Wisconsin, was the city’s earliest start to a snowy season in more than 30 years. The city’s first appreciable snowfall typically occurs on November 11.
Chicago may be added to the list of locations that saw their first measurable snowfall of the season this week, despite it not being a record-breaker.
This cold spell will pass quickly because temperatures are predicted to rise starting on Friday and continue into the next week. That will imply that high temperatures in Texas will return to the 80s, with afternoon highs in mid-Atlantic cities like Washington climbing into the 70s.
Senior meteorologist and producer for NBC News, Kathryn Prociv.