Unfathomable cold from polar vortex: New Hampshire sets coldest US wind chill record at -108 degrees

The NWS in Portland/Gray, Maine, said an unusual phenomenon was responsible for the cold temperatures.

By Chris Oberholtz , Angeli Gabriel – Source FOX Weather

MOUNT WASHINGTON, N.H. – A national wind chill record was broken Saturday morning as feel-like temperatures bottomed out well below zero at what is considered the highest peak in Northeast United States.

Mount Washington recorded a national wind chill record of 108 degrees below 0 on Saturday, while the actual temperatures were negative 47 degrees with a wind speed of 89 mph.

In nextdoor Frenchville, Maine, wind chill values also reached a dangerous negative 61 degrees.

A national wind chill record was set Saturday morning.

“We are nearing wind chills values that most have not seen in their lifetime,” the National Weather Service said in a recent forecast discussion for the lower elevations of northern New England.

The NWS in Portland/Gray, Maine, said an unusual phenomenon for its area of responsibility occurred Friday night as the tropopause – the boundary between the troposphere, where our weather occurs, and the stratosphere, the layer of the atmosphere above the troposphere – dipped below the peak of Mount Washington. 

“We recorded the lowest 850mb temperature observed at GYX tonight of -35.5 °C,” the agency tweeted. “While we can’t definitively say whether or not Mt. Washington was in the stratosphere, the tropopause started just below the summit.”

If the Polar Vortex is due to Global Warming, Why are U.S. Cold Waves Decreasing?

4 years ago

Charles Rotter

From Dr Roy Spencer – for WhatsUpWithThat.com

January 31st, 2019 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

It’s much easier to devise and promote a climate change theory than it is to falsify it. Falsification requires a lot of data over a long period of time, something we don’t usually have in climate research.

The “polar vortex” is the deep cyclonic flow around a cold air mass generally covering the Arctic, Canada, and Northern Asia during winter. It is irregularly shaped, following the far-northern land masses, unlike it’s stratospheric cousin, which is often quite symmetric and centered on the North and South Poles.

For as long as we have had weather records (extending back into the 1800s), lobes of cold air rotating generally from west to east around the polar vortex sometimes extend down into the U.S. causing wild winter weather and general unpleasantness.

We used to call this process “weather”. Now it’s called “climate change”.

When these cold air outbreaks continued to menace the United States even as global warming has caused global average temperatures to creep upward, an explanation had to be found. After all, snow was supposed to be a thing of the past by now.

Enter the theory that decreasing wintertime sea ice cover in the Arctic (down about 15% over the last 40 years) has tended to displace the polar vortex in the general direction of southern Canuckistan and Yankeeland.

In other words, as the theory goes, global warming sometimes causes colder winters. This is what makes global warming theory so marvelously adaptable — it can explain anything.

In the wake of the current cold wave, John Christy skated into my office this morning with a plot of U.S. winter cold waves since the late 1800s. He grouped the results by region, and examined cold waves lasting a minimum of 2 days at a station, and 5 days at a station. The results were basically the same.

As can be seen in the plot below, there is no evidence in the data supporting the claim that decreasing Arctic sea ice in recent decades is causing more frequent displacement of cold winter air masses into the eastern U.S., at least through the winter of 2017-18:


The trend is markedly downward in the most recent 40 years (since 1979) which is the earliest we have reliable measurements of Arctic sea ice from satellite microwave radiometers (my specialty).

Now, I suppose that Arctic sea ice decline could have some influence. But weather is immensely complex. Cause and effect is often difficult to ascertain.

At a minimum we should demand good observational support for any specific claim. In this case I would say that the connection between Eastern U.S. cold waves and Arctic sea ice is speculative, at best.

Just like most theories of climate change.

Brutal cold seizes northeast U.S., shattering record lows

Story by By Joseph Ax • Yesterday 5:16 PM – Reuters on MSN.com

Artic Front brings cold weather to Rockport© Thomson Reuters

(Reuters) – A dangerous combination of record-setting cold temperatures and powerful winds buffeted the northeastern United States on Saturday, creating life-threatening conditions and causing the death of an infant in Massachusetts.

New Hampshire’s Mount Washington overnight recorded a wind chill – a measure of how the combined effect of air and wind feels to the skin – of minus 108 degrees Fahrenheit (-78°Celsius), which appeared to be the lowest ever in the United States. The air temperature at the peak reached minus 47 degrees F (-44 C), with winds gusting near 100 miles per hour (160 kilometers per hour), according to the Mount Washington Observatory.

Cold weather in Manhattan, New York City© Thomson Reuters

The high winds brought a tree down onto a car in Southwick, Massachusetts, the Hampden district attorney said in a statement, crushing the vehicle and killing an infant passenger. The driver was transported to a hospital with serious injuries.

In Boston, where officials closed down the public school system on Friday due to the impending freeze, the low temperature hit minus 10 degrees F (-23 C), shattering the day’s record set more than a century ago, the NWS said. In Providence, Rhode Island, the mercury dropped to minus 9 degrees F (-23 C), well below the previous all-time low of minus 2 degrees F (-19 C), set in 1918.

People walk during cold temperature and high winds in Manhattan, as deep cold spread across the northeast United States in New York City© Thomson Reuters

A skeleton and hearts decorations are seen through a frosty car window in Syracuse

Artic Front brings cold weather to Gloucester

The arctic blast flowing into the United States from eastern Canada brought record lows to Albany, New York; Augusta, Maine; Rochester, New York; and Worcester, Massachusetts, among other places, the NWS said.

Related video: Ice cold: The coldest wind chill ever in the US was recorded this week! (WEWS Cleveland, OH)

The NWS office in Caribou, Maine, said it had gotten reports of “frostquakes” – tremors that feel like earthquakes but are caused by the soil cracking suddenly in the cold – as well as trees splitting open, likely due to sap freezing inside the trunks.

Several cities took emergency measures to aid residents, including opening warming centers and conducting outreach to ensure homeless people were sheltered from the brutal cold.

In Boston, Pine Street Inn, the largest provider of homeless services in New England, doubled the number of vans canvassing the city’s streets on Friday and Saturday, said Barbara Trevisan, a spokeswoman.

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