The Washington Post

“Spring” cold front giving eastern U.S. bitter taste of winter

European model simulation of temperatures at 5,000 feet at 8 a.m. this morning – showing sharp cold front over Appalachians. (

An exceptionally strong cold front barreling towards the East Coast has established a track record of shifting the seasonal feel from summer to winter in a matter of hours.

Let’s look at all this cold front has accomplished in its cross country travels…

* It dropped 2 inches of snow in Denver Sunday, and shut down sections of I-70 in the mountains, where up to 18 inches accumulated.

* On Monday, it produced the heaviest snow in Chicago within three days of hitting 80 degrees on record, according to Tom Skilling at

…the amount of snow which fell Monday and the fact it occurred within 3 days of 80-degree warmth (on Saturday) and on a day which opened in the 60s is without precedent. Neither has occurred before over the 129 year term of official Chicago snow records.

* Officially, Chicago received 1.4 inches as the front passed, bringing its seasonal total to 82.0 inches – third most on record (dating back 1884-1885), just 0.3 inches away from second most on record, 82.3 inches (1977-78).  The most snow on record, 89.7″ occurred in 1978-79.

* On Monday night, 3.1 inches of snow fell in Detroit bringing its seasonal total to 94.8 inches, most on record (passing the winter of 1880-81 when 93.6 inches fell).

* This morning, it produced snow as far south as Tennessee this morning and even some sleet in Birmingham (h/t Jesse Ferrell, AccuWeather)

* It is responsible for scores of record low temperatures this morning across the U.S. (h/t Jesse Ferrell, AccuWeather)  Minneapolis, for example, tied a record low of 18 degrees.

Cold weather records today and areas close to setting cold weather records (

* Sioux Falls, South Dakota plunged to 12 degrees this morning, the coldest temperature on record so late in the season.

The front and its extraordinary dose of weather whiplash are slapping the I-95 corridor with falling temperatures, heavy rain, and gusty winds.  Parts of the interior Mid-Atlantic and Northeast may see rain change to snow or mixed precipitation this evening, after temperatures in the 60s to near 70 this morning, and near 80 in previous days.

In addition, freeze warnings cover a large area tonight from the Mid-Atlantic into the Deep South.

(National Weather Service)
(National Weather Service)
Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
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David Streit · April 15, 2014

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