We’ll have more clouds than sun, with highs in the 50s today. It will be warmest in central and northern Maine, coolest in southern and coastal Maine, with a breeze coming in off the ocean.
Rain moves in tonight. It’ll be cold enough in the mountains of western Maine for wet snow to fall, and accumulate. 1 to 3 inches of snow is likely in the mountains. As heavier precipitation moves in Tuesday morning, it’s possible the cold rain flips to wet snow even closer to the coastline. Coatings are possible in spots. Tuesday will remain chilly with periods of rain and highs only in the low 40s.
Clouds linger Wednesday with a few showers. Highs in the upper 40s to low 50s.
We’ll see a return to some sun and highs around 60 Thursday.
The United States has started to thaw out after a week of extremely cold weather.
The fast-rising temperature, however, may not be all good news, meteorologists have warned.
They indicated that the thaw may cause a new set of risks, including flooding on streets and in homes, ice jams in lakes, and slippery sidewalks and driveways.
The national lowest temperature was measured at -48.9 degrees Celsius in Chicago, Illinois during the cold streak.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, the harsh weather was caused by the influence of the polar vortex, which is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding the North Pole and is normally trapped by strong counterclockwise winds.
As temperatures rose, schools reopened, businesses resumed and people came back on the streets that had been empty for days in Chicago.
“I like the warmer weather a lot. I stayed inside when it was cold. It’s wonderful that it’s warmer and I hope it lasts a long time,” said a local resident.
Temperatures are expected to reach 11-12C in Chicago on Sunday and Monday.
This warm weather looks set to be short-lived with a maximum of around -1C on Tuesday, which brings the threat of the thaw turning back to the ice.
Some people were found dead a short walk from their homes:
A Michigan man who froze to death in his neighbourhood had been “inadequately dressed for the weather”, officials said
In a wind chill of -46C (-51F) an 18-year-old student was found unresponsive a short walk from his dorm on Wednesday and later died in hospital
On Tuesday, a man froze to death in a garage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, having “apparently collapsed after shovelling snow”, according to a medical examiner
Dangerous roads have also been a factor in the deaths. A man was fatally struck by a snow plough near Chicago on Monday and in northern Indiana, a 22-year-old police officer and his wife died after a collision on icy roads.
What’s the forecast?
The icy cold is expected to loosen its grip on Friday.
By the end of the weekend, Chicago could see temperatures as high as 10C (50F).
“It’s going to be at least a 60-degree swing for Chicago,” David Hamrick, a National Weather Service forecaster, told Reuters news agency.
The sudden weather change coming this weekend may be the fastest warm-up on record, meteorologists say.
But as the temperatures abruptly turn warmer, US emergency officials warn of flooding and utility risks.
Pipes can burst with such temperature fluctuations, and rapidly melting snow and ice could cause flooding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency cautioned.
How cold did it get?
More than 30 record lows were broken across the Midwest.
Cotton, Minnesota, was the coldest place in the US on Thursday with a low of -48C (-56F) based on preliminary data.
Chicago passed the record low for 31 January, while Mount Carroll has probably beaten the Illinois record with a morning temperature of -39C (-38F).
The official low temperature at Chicago this morning was -21F. This shatters the previous record for Jan 31st, which was -12F set back 1985. In records that date back to the 1870s, this is only the 15th time Chicago has seen a daily low this cold or colder, yesterday was 14th.
Cities across Iowa have also broken temperature records.
NWS Des Moines
In news that pretty much no one wants to hear … we broke numerous low temperature records this morning across the state! #iawx
(Yes, those are air temps, NOT wind chill.)
The chill drifted eastward on Thursday, bringing sub-zero temperatures to north-eastern cities such as Boston.
We understand the timing of our request is not ideal given today’s cold temperatures, however, without additional reductions, we run the risk of not being able to deliver natural gas to families and critical facilities across Michigan – a scenario none of us want to encounter.
Native American tribes in the northern Midwest states helped their members obtain heating supplies as many live in poor-quality housing, the Associated Press reports.
More than 2,300 flights have been cancelled and another 3,500 delayed due to the polar vortex.
Social media has been full of photos and memes showcasing just how shockingly cold the Midwest became.
What about Canada?
Areas across the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan, and in the north, remain under extreme cold warnings.
But many parts of the country are moving towards more seasonable temperatures on Friday and over the weekend.
In Toronto, wind chills near -30C (-22F) were expected to continue early Friday before beginning to warm.
There were also winter storm and blizzards warnings active across the country from the east to the west coast.
Environment Canada was urging residents to limit their exposure to cold and keep pets indoors.
Canada did not experience a spate of deaths linked to the polar vortex like the US.
Stephen Hwang, an associate professor with the University of Toronto’s department of medicine, suggested that Canadian cities and public health authorities probably had more experience dealing with the deep cold.
Most homeless shelters also already had protocols in place for when the extreme cold hits.
But he said it was still “fortunate” that cities like Toronto, where homeless shelters have been stretched for resources in recent months, did not see any cold-related deaths among its most vulnerable citizens.
In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!
Sleet is encompassing most of central and southern Maine now. Heavy snow is confined to the mountains and far north.
This is thanks to a layer of warm air that moved in aloft, around 6,000 feet. As snowflakes fall into this layer, they melt, then refreeze into ice pellets (sleet) as the fall into the very cold layer of air near the ground.
Temperatures are in the single digits for most. Don’t underestimate the sleet. It’s made a mess of the roads. Regular road treatments aren’t effective at these temperatures either. Most roads look like this.
As of 2 p.m., the back edge of the precipitation is moving through Vermont. This means western Maine has a couple more hours of steady precipitation to go, a lot of it in the form of sleet, but it may switch back to snow as colder air wraps in aloft.
In central and northern Maine, it’ll keep snowing into the early evening.
Plans for the Pats game? Drive safely. With temperatures falling even more, and in some cases snow/sleet blowing back on to the roads, I expect travel to remain tricky.
Tomorrow is all about the cold and wind. Morning wind chills will be -15 to -30 in most of the state. In the mountains, expect blowing and drifting of the powdery snow to continue.