Officially, the first day of winter is December 21. Unofficially, the longest, coldest, saddest season of the year arrived for much of the country on Monday. The frigid temperatures are closing schools from New Hampshire to Texas, where the border town Brownsville is seeing a rare dusting of snow this week.
Areas in Indiana, Michigan, and Vermont could see as much as a foot of snow, the National Weather Service said, as freezing conditions grip large chunks of the nation. For some perspective on just how low the temperatures have dipped, the National Weather Service in Green Bay provided a map.
“This is an air mass that’s more typical for the middle of January than mid-November,” National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Birk told the AP. “It is pretty much about the coldest we can be this time of year (and) it could break records all over the region.”
Chicago saw six inches of snow and high winds Monday, causing a plane to slide off the runway at O’Hare. By Monday afternoon, more than 1,000 flights in and out of Chicago were canceled. Tuesday is expected to set a new record low in the city, with the temperature forecasted to top out at 21 degrees, or seven degrees colder than any November 12 on record.
Chicago is far from the only city setting records. Not far away in Indianapolis, a 108-year-old record fell Tuesday when temperatures dipped to eight degrees, the coldest it’s been on November 12 in the Indiana capital since 1911. A daily record low was set in Turner, Montana, which hit -21 degrees Monday, and Dickinson, North Dakota, set its own daily record by topping out at eight degrees.
The National Weather Service expects hundreds of other cities to set daily cold records Tuesday, as the cold front moves toward the East Coast and the Deep South.
New York City will not be spared. Though Tuesday began in the mid 50s, temperatures will drop 20 degrees over the course of the day. The NWS has said accumulation in the city is unlikely, but the New York City Sanitation Department is not taking any chances. Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said Monday that the city has 705 salt spreaders ready to keep the roads clean.