A massive arctic outbreak has sent most of the U.S. into a deep freeze. From the Mid-West to the Gulf Coast and along the eastern seaboard, many cities are dealing with the coldest temperatures they have seen in nearly two decades.
Here in New York City, the mercury fell to 4°F in Central Park this morning – a new record low for the date. The previous record of 6°F was set in 1896. Our normal low temperature for this time of year is 27°F.
While it certainly was bitterly cold today, it was not the coldest day the Big Apple has ever experienced. That dubious honor, according to the NWS, belongs to February 9, 1934, when the low was a brutal -15°F.
Our current frigid conditions are the product of a weakened polar vortex – the pattern of winds around the North Pole. As it slowed down, arctic air pushed southward and caused a deep dip in the jet stream. This frosty air is not likely to stick around much longer, though. As the jet stream retreats northward, temperatures are forecast to rebound to more seasonable, and even above average, levels by the end of week.