For some kids — even millennials — in the South, this morning was the coldest of their lives. Grimace.
Temperatures were so cold Wednesday morning, in fact, that the 64-degree Gulf of Mexico was literally steaming. Meteorologists call it “sea smoke” but it’s the exact same science as a boiling pot of water or your steamy breath on a cold day. Cold, dry air meets warm water; water evaporates into air until it can’t hold any more; water vapor condenses and steam forms.
Sea smoke is fairly common on, say, the Great Lakes during winter. It hardly ever happens over the Gulf of Mexico.
In Eastland, Tex., the temperature dropped to minus-2 Wednesday morning. It’s the coldest temperature North Texas has experienced since 1989, according to the National Weather Service.
New Orleans dropped to 20 degrees, which is the coldest since the big cold air outbreak of Feb. 5, 1996. That winter was exceptionally cold across the Lower 48, east of the Rockies. Multiple waves of Arctic air blasted the South and set all-time cold records from Minnesota to Louisiana to the capital. Minnesota actually set a new state record in that outbreak — minus-60 near the town of Tower. Needless to say, all of the public schools across the state were closed that day.
Jackson, Miss., also bottomed out at the coldest temperature since the 1996 winter, with a low of 10 degrees. In Houston, the early-morning temperature was just 19 degrees.