Arctic Outbreak Comes Early for Huge Portion of U.S... Winter's Right Around the Corner

Is November the new January? Last year several areas of the U.S. experienced a much colder than average November.

And the trend is continuing. Before we had even reached the mid-point of this November, much of the country was socked by what the National Weather Service called "an arctic outbreak."

How bad was it? More than 300 records for cold weather and snow were tied or broken. It happened in the Plains, the Midwest, the East Coast and even the South and Southeast.

One newspaper called it "the most severe early November cold snap in more than a century." What's going on?

Three-Fourths of U.S. Was Freezing

And there were still five weeks of fall remaining! Many Americans had not yet had time to rake all their leaves when snow fell on them. And stayed on them, due to lingering cold temperatures.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that 30 percent of the continental U.S. was covered by snow. And more than 75 percent of the lower 48 states were enduring freezing temperatures.

A spokesperson for the National Weather Service said it felt like "the middle of winter" in various areas. Including the Ohio Valley, East Coast and even the upper Texas coast.

Temperatures in the Lone Star State dropped 40 degrees in a 24-hour period. The existing warm air to the south was no match for the arctic blast. In central Alabama, the temperature fell to 13 degrees.

Snow Falls Near Mexico Border

Buffalo, New York received nearly a foot of snow. Empire, Michigan got 30 inches. And Bangor, Maine had more than two feet of the white stuff.

They even had snow in Hebbronville, Texas. That's 60 miles from the Mexico border. And in Pensacola, Florida, the temperature dropped to 29 degrees. That was 42 degrees colder than the Gulf of Mexico water temperature.

We normally don't hear about a polar vortex until well into the winter. It's a large, cold air mass high in the atmosphere that normally spins over the North Pole in winter.

But this one came early. Meteorologist Ryan Maue tweeted, "Of course, this arctic blast is related to the polar vortex."

Records Fall With Temps

At higher elevations, the deep freeze was felt even more. As far south as the Mid-Atlantic, temperatures were in the single digits in the Appalachian Mountains.

At ski areas in West Virginia, temps fell to near zero. It was minus-17 degrees at Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

Heading back to lower elevations, Nashville, Tennessee set a record low of 17 degrees on November 13.

That same day, the low in New York City was a record 23 degrees. It marked the third low temperature record of the week.

200 Million People Affected

The historic arctic air mass is said to have affected some 200 million people. Temperatures dipped into the single digits in many areas.

Thousands of flights were canceled. And an American Eagle plane slid off an O'Hare runway. Fortunately, no injuries were reported from that event.

But at least four deaths were attributed to the cold and snow. All died in vehicle crashes.

Those accidents occurred in Kansas and Michigan. One of the fatalities was an 8-year-old girl.

Frigid Winter Ahead?

The first 11 days of November were among the coldest on record in a number of cities. Including Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Not to mention Little Rock, Arkansas.

Many people are hoping that a cold November will not translate into an exceptionally cold winter.

But Dr. Brian Brettschneider is unable to give us any assurances. He's a climatologist at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

He's says that a colder than average November usually translates into colder than average temperatures for December though February. At least in some areas, including the Midwest and East Coast.

Fighting Fires... and Ice

For you history buffs, the recent bitter cold arctic blast is being compared to something that occurred more than 100 years ago.

It was called the "Blue Norther' of 1911." In some areas of the country, temperatures plummeted from about 80 degrees to the 20s in the same day.

Among those who struggled with the recent frigid temperatures were firefighters. Those battling a house fire in New Albany, Indiana found themselves standing on ice.

Water from their hoses was freezing on the ground around them. One firefighter was taken to a hospital after slipping and falling. Even the fire department's air packs and radios were freezing.

Be Ready for Anything

We're used to cold spells in the late fall, throughout the winter and even in the early spring. But this early in the year?

Even just last month, the United States saw its first named storm of the season: Winter Storm Aubrey. The snowstorm caused significant travel disruptions, tree damage, and sporadic power outages in the places most affected.

Coupled with last week's arctic blast, this winter doesn't seem to be getting any better.

The key is to be prepared with back-up power, food, plenty of clean drinking water, and flashlights and batteries.

Those who take care of themselves and their families don't have to worry about whether FEMA will be able to help them.


  • Diane Beach - November 23, 2019

    Do you have any of the packaged meal items that would fit a paleo/keto lifestyle. I know if there really is an emergency, I shouldn’t be pickey about the foods, but if I don’t feel well because of grains and sugars, I won’t survive very easy either. :) Any suggestions??

  • Frederick Richards - November 23, 2019

    Be surprized if this take on your article goes to ‘press cause it’s that bitter pill able to free assumption, preconceptions and stubborn ‘normalcy bias. Tis the harsh facts about the weather warfare ongoing and escalating around the globe. Alas, my time is crimped. So instead of me trying to fill you in with a brief overview of the ’chemical ice nucleation’ creating cold spots meant to confuse. Have a good look at the only place I go to get straight scoop; Don’t Eat the ‘Snow’,

    Your Friend Willing to Irritate You Just Enough to let your mind kick back into gear, Best, Boomer

  • Frank D. - November 23, 2019

    I’m 55 and I do not see anything (with one exception below) except hot/cold cycles that the earth goes thru. When I was a youngster I remember the same cold temperatures. We have had a warming cycle for years which has nothing to do with “man” just natural weather cycles the earth goes thru. We are just entering a colder phase now and have been spoiled by warmer temps in winter for the last 40 years. Now we are going to have a colder period for another 40 years the process will repeat. But I do wonder sometimes about the weather effects of those “white lines” in the sky have on weather that official channels try to pass off as normal con trails. To that I say poppycock. Something may be afoot that is contributing to colder temps and who knows what else those “white lines” are doing. So that’s my 2 cents!

  • Edmund Marler - November 23, 2019

    Good article.
    In addition it should be noted that due to 2 historic reoccurring patterns that effect the earth, we are entering at least a Mini Ice Age. 400 year cycles of solar Minimum Sun Spots coupled with a much longer cycle of earth’s Magnetic Reversal (Pole Shift), we are entering a Grand Solar Minimum.
    Besides Food,we need warmer clothing and bedding as well as alternate heating sources.
    Check out articles of crop damages/shortages and climate change on “adapt 2020”.

  • Paul McElroy - November 23, 2019

    Is it possible to order a sample of the shortbread bars?

  • Jason Burbee - November 23, 2019

    What is happening regarding the early winter is what some scientists are referring to as a GRAND SOLAR MINIMUM cycle. A quiet faze the sun goes through where the earth receives much less solar radiation from our son.
    We are entering a several year cycle that could potentially effect food crops for many years ahead.
    We must be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. Store food while you are able.
    God bless,
    Jason B.

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