A powerful early fall (or late summer) cold front has plowed across the U.S., resulting in widespread frost and freezes in the Upper Midwest and northern Great Lakes while bringing welcome relief from the record heat in the south central U.S.
In International Falls, Minnesota - the veritable “nation’s icebox” - the mercury plunged to a low of 19 degrees this morning, its coldest temperature on record so early in the season. It was also its first ever reading in the teens during September. Snow flurries were reported in Duluth, which recorded its first freeze this morning, as did Grand Forks, North Dakota.
In Minneapolis, the mercury dropped to a record-tying 36 degrees this morning. Star Tribune meteorologist Paul Douglas reports the cold in the Twin Cities is a “1 in 10 year event”.
Further south, in Chicago, yesterday’s high was only 58 degrees - equivalent to its average high in late October. WGN’s Tom Skilling wrote: a review of weather records here indicates the reading was the chilliest to occur so early in the “meteorological” fall season in the 37 years since 1974
The cold also penetrated into the Rockies where snow fell at some of the peaks. The Denver Post reports 1 to 3 inches of snow accumulated in the mountains of western Colorado Wednesday night, generally above 10,000 feet.
Some of the biggest temperature swings in the wake of the front have occurred in the central Midwest. In Springfield, Missouri, Wednesday afternoon’s temperatures were only in the upper 50s after reaching the upper 90s the day before.
Oklahoma City, which had its hottest summer on record, will blissfully experience afternoon temperatures nearly 40 degrees colder this afternoon compared to Monday and Tuesday, when highs swelled above the century mark.
While the front won’t pack as much a punch once it pushes through the Lonestar State, Dallas will still enjoy a 20 degree decline in afternoon temperatures today with mid-to-upper 80s rather than 105+. It will be the coolest weather there since mid-May.
The cooler air arrives in the East today, with high temperatures generally in the 50 and 60s from West Virginia to Maine. Along the I-95 corridor, some 70s and 80s (south) are possible before temperatures drop back this afternoon and evening, setting the stage for weather more characteristic of mid-October into the weekend.