Finding a legitimate snap of cold weather in the last 20 years has been difficult. A warming climate as a background signal certainly hasn’t helped.
January 2004 was the 5th coldest January on record with a mean temperature of 18.7º at Bradley. Impressive! Here’s how the month shaped up across the hemisphere with a huge ridge bridge from Baffin Bay to the Bering Strait.
All of that ridging and blocking over the high latitudes produced a super-cold month in New England. You could find ice floating in Long Island Sound! The most “brutal” day was January 14th with a high of 11 and low of -4. 850mb temperatures flirted with -25ºC all day along the Massachusetts border!
The -35º isotherm at 850mb bisected Maine and clipped a portion of northern New Hampshire and the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont – wow! The phrase “dangerous cold” is way overused – it drives me crazy. That said, the 7 a.m. observation on 1/14/04 probably qualifies as dangerous cold here in Connecticut:
METAR KBDL 141151Z 31017G21KT 10SM CLR M19/M29 A3018 RMK AO2 SLP223 T11941294 11139 21194 53017
That’s a -26ºF wind chill!
There certainly have been colder days here in Connecticut (see here for the records) but some of the days in January 2004 were impressive. All of the cold occurred with virtually no storminess and no snow on the ground. High oil bills and nothing to shovel. What a disaster.
For the weather freaks loving the site of getting some big cold into the United States I urge caution! Not all cold and blocky patterns are snowy patterns. A suppressed or quiet storm track can be unpleasant. The cold’s coming into the lower 48 – now we just need to get the storms.
Update: I would be remiss if I didn’t include the Christmas Day 1980 cold which was undoubtedly one of the most memorable Arctic outbreaks in New England (probably the coldest day since the 60s in many areas). Temperatures never made it above 0 during the day (high was at midnight that morning) and wind chills around morning were around -35F.