New England Wakes up to Brutal Valentine’s Day Cold

A record setting day for most locations today as temperatures have plunged due to a substantial arctic blast. A couple numbers from the National Weather Service’s New York Forecast office:

  • Central Park’s low of -1ºF breaks the previous record of 2ºF set back in 1916, making this their coldest valentine’s day in over 100 years!
  • The 3 New York area airports also broke records dating back to 1979

One of the cool things to see, which really puts in perspective the depth of this cold airmass is the dynamic tropopause map, which from a potential vorticity perspective is defined by the 2 PVU level. So if we look at a map of that in pressure coordinates we see:

Courtesy Weatherbell Analytics
Courtesy Weatherbell Analytics

You can see this huge compression in the troposphere to down beyond 700mb. That is one heck of a cold column of air! Albany, NY set it’s 850mb temperature record during the 00utc sounding last night with a record of -30.9ºC!

This isn’t unprecedented cold for us but take this anomalously cold airmass and throw in some wind, and you have downright dangerous conditions with extreme wind chills. It was quite scenic on the Connecticut Coast this morning with a decent amount of that cool ocean steam fog we call arctic sea smoke helping to facilitate a spectacular sunrise. It’s a type of fog that forms when extreme cold air interacts with a shallow but warmer marine layer near the ocean surface. The result can be quite stunning, and this phenomena up in the arctic seas can drop visibilities to near zero. For us it’s just a cool thing to look at.

steam1 steam2

I stood outside in the vicinity of Saybrook Point and clocked a temperature of -7ºF with a windchill around -26ºF. In all likelihood the wind chill may have been exceeding that value but the cold precluded my ability to stand outside for any length of time.

Check out the video also!

Enjoy your day! The weather warms up next week which I made mention of in my last post!

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