WEST MICHIGAN — Sometimes it pays to live downwind off a big lake like Michigan. Why? Despite the fact that bone chilling Arctic air has plunged in to the Midwest and Great Lakes, it has been substantially modified by Lake Michigan. Instead of feeling the “raw” air mass, our temperatures were quite a bit warmer as the air came across the lake and warmed (a little). Without Lake Michigan our temperatures would have fallen to 15 to 25 degrees below zero and wind chills would have been much higher than the -20 to -30. We saw a little bit of the unmodified effect along/south of the I-94 corridor.
This winter storm and Arctic blast canceled more than 10,000 flights the last few days, and the polar plunge has gone as far south as Texas, the Gulf Coast, and Florida. To illustrate the modifying effect of Lake Michigan, Chicago ended up with a record low temperature on Monday 16 below zero. They rose only five degrees to a high temp of -11.
The National Weather Service states these are the coldest temperatures in some areas in almost 20 years. Temperatures have been averaging 30 to 50 degrees below normal. Here’s thought I came across today. If you took all the high temperatures across the lower 48 states on Monday, added them together, then divided accordingly, the average high across the entire nation would have only been 12 degrees!
Further proof is in the numbers themselves. At noon on Tuesday 2,800 miles north/west in Alaska and western Canada, Nome has a temperature of 31, Anchorage 27, Juneau 36, and it was as warm as 40 in Ketchikan.
Compare that to temps in the Midwest at the same time below zero from Minnesota to Wisconsin, and the single digits elsewhere.
Temperatures were as cold as 6 degrees in Atlanta Tuesday morning, 24 in New Orleans, 33 degrees over a thousand miles south in Tampa, Florida. Mobile, Alabama broke a 44 year record with a low of 14, and Pensacola, Florida shattered a 90-year-old record with a low of 19. See Below.
Further south at noon on Tuesday Atlanta was only 17 degrees…a far cry from their average/normal high in the 50s. At the mouth of the Mississippi River in New Orleans their noon temp was 30. Normal January highs there are in the 60s!
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