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Posted at 7:30 PM ET, 12/14/2010

Deep freeze in deep South

By Jason Samenow

Record lows from Virginia to Florida

Record lows (purple) and record low maximum (blue) temperatures in the Southeast over the past week. Source: HAMWeather (see interactive map)

While it's been brutally cold in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast over the last several days, the coldest weather with respect to average has been occurring in the South. Many locations set or tied record lows this morning (as well as previous mornings), including the following cities (source: Weather Front and AccuWeather):

Roanoke, Va. 10 degrees
Paducah, Ky. 4 degrees
Atlanta, Ga. 14 degrees
Mobile, Al. 24 degrees
Jacksonville, Fl. 20 degrees
Daytona Beach, Fl. 25 degrees
Fort Lauderdale, Fl. 34 degrees
Key West, Fl. 50 degrees

Temperatures in these areas are likely to remain quite cold tonight and more record lows may be set.

The cold temperatures have sparked concern about damage to the orange crop in Florida, but so far temperatures have not fallen low enough to cause widespread issues according to reports.

Few record lows have been set in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast largely because strong gusty winds have held up overnight temperatures. But wind chills have been frigid and are mainly in the single digits to near 10 degrees this evening and will probably flirt with zero in many locations overnight.

By Jason Samenow  | December 14, 2010; 7:30 PM ET
Categories:  Extreme Cold, U.S. Weather  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: PM Update: Frigid through tomorrow
Next: Forecast: Chill persists, chance of snow Thurs.


Makes me fondly recall the sweltering heat of July & August.
This weather is worthless it gives us some snow.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | December 14, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Worthless *until* it brings snow.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | December 14, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

That summer of record heat is nothing but a distant memory now.
These wind chills tonight are pretty brutal for this area.

Posted by: bodyiq | December 14, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

An unusual but not unprecedented topsy turvy reversal of fortunes: The high temp to day was 29 deg warmer in Caribou, Maine(57)than DC (28); AND, 4 deg warmer than at my current locale, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | December 14, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Steve -- makes me think of the immortal words of Daffy Duck -- "Screwy, ain't it?!?". Seriously, here's hoping the FL crops aren't seriously impacted by this cold. Those folks had a hard year last year, and certainly don't need 2 back to back bad years.

Posted by: southbridgemom | December 14, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Steve - To expand on that, Jeff Masters had a great post about this today - hope you don't mind the external link - - talking about how much warmer it is up north, and likening it to a refigerator (the arctic) door being left open and all of the cold seeping out (down south.) They said the negative NAO causing this was good for two weeks, but I wasn't sure if that meant it was done in two weeks, or if that's just as far as the model run goes.
I have been dreaming about an escape to my favorite summer destination - Prince Edward Island, where it's 50 F right now, but also extremely windy (40-90mph winds clocked up in the maritimes today). I've been in PEI in August when it was 50 degrees. Crazy.

Posted by: vtavgjoe | December 14, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

i must say i'm encouraged about the prospect of global warming bringing more snow to my house.

i'm not sure i understand the "cold air seeping out of a freezer" analogy. in that case there's gravity pulling the cold air down. in the global case, what is the force that would let the cold air "seep" south (which is not really "down").

bombo said something recently about this idea of cold winters in certain areas being a product of a warming earth.

indeed this cold air w/o snow is a waste of cold air. the way i look at it is that as long as it's cold we're ready for moisture to come along and give us snow.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | December 14, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Walter, the link the previous post by vtavgjoe gives one possible link from Arctic warming and less ice there to negative NAO. But then they say it doesn't happen all the time without explaining what might cause the variation.

There is a chicken and egg thing between blocking and NAO. A short paper is here: The stratosphere seems to be where stuff is controlled. It is slowly cooling due to increasing CO2 in the troposphere. It also warms and cools based on some weather occurrences (chicken and egg again) and it is affect by solar/cosmic (less UV and more GCR lately).

So here's a wild guess as to a theory: a slowly cooling stratosphere (AGW) is more likely to have greater variations when there are localized natural warming events (e.g. GCRs are notably localized even though their solar modulation is not). So with those stratospheric variations come greater frequencies of blocking patterns. When the sun gets more active, the GCRs will be suppressed again.

Posted by: eric654 | December 15, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Tampa's all-time record low of 18.3 degrees occurred on December 13, 1962 (the record books say 18, but the actual reading was 18.3).

By midday, much of the city's tropical vegetation had turned brown, but the greatest loss were the beautiful Australian pines that once lined the causeway leading to Gandy Bridge (on the St. Petersburg side of Tampa Bay). A devastating loss.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | December 15, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Jeff Masters- a master at linking just about any weather event to climate warming-change-disruption

Posted by: Tom8 | December 15, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Hi Capital Weather Gang! So what's in the forecast for areas in the south in regards to these low temps? Will temps remain low through December or will temps rebound to more average levels? I have a trip planned to New Orleans over the New Year's weekend and was hoping for a warm(er) escape from our frigid temps. Travel forecast please?

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | December 15, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse


We can't really see that far out, but it's highly unlikely this unusually cold pattern lasts that long. So I'd say odds are pretty good there will be at least a partial warm-up.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | December 15, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

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