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Sunday, December 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Record-crushing cold and abnormally early snow sweep over eastern half of Lower 48 states

Dwight Green stands aside as Coty Paige and Cornelius McCaley push a car that got stuck in the snow in Rochester, N.Y., Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (Tina MacIntyre-Yee / AP)
Dwight Green stands aside as Coty Paige and Cornelius McCaley push a car that got stuck in the snow in Rochester, N.Y., Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (Tina MacIntyre-Yee / AP)
By Jason Samenow The Washington Post

A November cold snap of historic intensity has surged from the Plains to the East Coast. Hundreds of records are falling, some of which have stood for over a century. The Arctic blast is not only sending temperatures toppling, but has also left behind a blanket of snow from parts of the Midwest to the central Appalachians and interior Northeast.

Snow covers 30% of the the Lower 48, the second greatest Nov. 12 extent since monitoring began in 2003, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Snow and ice contributed to four deaths in motor vehicle accidents in the Plains and Midwest, according to Weather.com. In Chicago Monday, an American Airlines jet slid off the runway at O’Hare International in snow and high winds, but no one was hurt.

The snow and cold have also delayed or closed schools from Texas to New Hampshire, Weather.com reported.

As the Arctic front barreled eastward Tuesday, the core of the cold gripped a sprawling zone from south Texas to western New York, where dozens of record low temperatures were set.

Even normally mild locations witnessed a wintry blast. Temperatures in Houston and Galveston toppled 30 to 40 degrees in 24 hours from near 70 to the mid-30s. Wind chills made it feel like the 20s.

Pockets of subzero cold sunk as far south as western Kansas and most areas from Kansas north through the Great Lakes bottomed out in the single digits.

Here are some of the remarkably cold temperature milestones established through Tuesday morning:

- Chicago dropped to 7 degrees Tuesday morning, setting a record low for a second straight day (a record low of 14 was set Monday) and its coldest temperature so early in the season.

- Indianapolis fell to 8 degrees Tuesday morning, its coldest temperature so early in the season on record.

- Des Moines, Iowa, dropped to -1 Tuesday morning, only the fifth time it has dropped below zero in the first half of November.

-Cedar Rapids, Iowa, tumbled to a record low of -6 Tuesday morning, crushing the previous record of 5, and the coldest on record so early in the season.

-Paducah, Kentucky, broke its previous record low for the date by 6 degrees, tumbling to 15 degrees Tuesday morning.

- McAllen, Texas, in the very southern part of the state, observed a wind chill of 31 early Tuesday after posting a heat index of 92 the previous afternoon as the air temperature fell to near 40 with winds gusting to 30 mph.

- Minneapolis’ high temperature on Monday of 18, tied its coldest on record for the date.

As the Arctic front surged south and southeast Monday into early Tuesday, accumulating snow fell as far south as Tennessee.

Nashville picked up 0.4 inches of snow Monday evening, only the 7th time measurable snow has fallen on or before November 11.

Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus witnessed record snowfall for November 11, picking up one to two inches.

The heaviest snowfall has concentrated in the Great Lakes region, where up to two feet has fallen and some areas just downwind of the Lakes could see more.

Detroit picked up 9.8 inches Monday into early Tuesday, establishing a new a 24-hour November snowfall record.

The interior Northeast has also picked up some hefty snow amounts, especially in the mountains of New York, New Hampshire and Vermont, where some ski areas are opening early.

Here are some other select totals through 8 a.m. central Tuesday:

- Ann Arbor, Michigan: 11 inches

- Buffalo: 10.9 inches

- Rochester, New York: 10.9 inches

- Burlington: 6.1 inches

After dozens of record lows were set in the morning, temperatures will be up to 30 to 35 degrees colder than normal Tuesday afternoon in the Mississippi River valley. A slew of new record cold highs are expected from the central Gulf Coast through the Great Lakes and into the interior Northeast. Chicago’s forecast high of 19 is expected to shatter the record for the coldest high for the date, previously 28.

Subfreezing highs will stretch from the interior Northeast southwest into northern part of Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas while Houston and New Orleans are stuck in the 40s.

On Wednesday morning, about 75 percent of nation will experience subfreezing temperatures and the Weather Service predicts another 99 record lows. Lows in the Great Lakes, Ohio and Tennessee valleys and Northeast will dip into the single digits and teens, while the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast drop into the 20s. The only areas above freezing will be in the Florida Peninsula.

Temperatures are expected to slowly moderate late this week in the eastern U.S. but generally remain colder than normal.

The National Weather Service is forecasting another 1 to 3 inches of snow for northern New England, the central Appalachians, and lower Great Lakes through Tuesday night.

“Parts of the Upper Great Lakes may receive an additional 4-8” of snow with localized amounts approaching 12″ through Wednesday morning due to intense lake effect bands,” the Weather Service wrote.

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