Polar vortex brings record cold temps, snow to the eastern US

A polar vortex packing bone-chilling temperatures is turning the usually mild Mother’s Day weekend into a preview of winter, bringing snow flurries to Manhattan on Saturday and even 10 inches of snow to northern New England.

The powerful stream of cold air, which normally confines itself to the Arctic, slipped southward instead and brought frigid temperatures and un-springlike snow to Canada and the eastern two-thirds of the United States.

The National Weather Service says the cold-air blast will hit the Eastern, Central and Southern U.S. during the weekend, with some snow from the Midwest to the Appalachians.

Some higher elevations in northern New York and New England reported snowfall accumulations Saturday of up to 10 inches, while traces of snow were seen along the coast from Maine to Boston to as far south as Manhattan.

The hardest hit areas were hill town communities like Sugar Hill, New Hampshire, which got 10.5 inches, and Carrabassett Valley in Maine, which got 9 inches, he said.

In the Green Mountain State, Gov. Phil Scott tweeted sympathy to fellow Vermonters frustrated by the weather after being cooped up for weeks during the coronavirus lockdowns.

“I know snow on May 9th isn’t a welcome sight for many Vermonters, just as we’re cautiously allowing outdoor recreation to get going again,” he wrote. “But this is just a snapshot in time. Just like better weather is ahead, better days will come, as well. We will get through this, together.”

New York City got in on the action early, with about a half-hour of snow early Saturday. That tied the record, set in 1977, for the latest date in spring snow was documented in Central Park, according to the NWS.

Detroit, Pittsburgh and New York City’s Central Park also posted records low for the day, according to AccuWeather. Washington, D.C., with an overnight low of 37, smashed a 54-year-old record for the lowest day in May. The nation’s capital was also flirting with a new record for the coldest high temperature for the day — 52 degrees — set in 1877

The eastern two-thirds of the U.S. faces unseasonably cold temperatures, and snow in some parts on Mother's Day, while the West faces a blast of hot air, according to AccuWeather.
The eastern two-thirds of the U.S. faces unseasonably cold temperatures, and snow in some parts on Mother’s Day, while the West faces a blast of hot air, according to AccuWeather.

Snow could accumulate as far south as West Virginia, according to AccuWeather.

“A lobe of the polar vortex will spin southward and loop around the Great Lakes and northeastern United States into next week before shifting farther northwest over Canada toward the middle of May,” says Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather’s top long-range forecaster.

On the West Coast, however, a heat wave is expected in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas as the contorted jet stream from the Arctic bulges northward in the West at the same time that it plunges across the eastern U.S.

This Mother’s Day weekend could be colder than Christmas: And a bomb cyclone and thundersnow may be on tap.

A chilly, blustery and wintry Saturday in the Great Lakes and Northeast jumped started the chilling weekend.

“If a hard freeze or heavy frost occurs in portions of the Ohio Valley, central Appalachians and mid-Atlantic region, where buds have broken out, significant damage could occur to fruit trees, vineyards and berry farms,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Randy Adkins.

Meanwhile, Fairbanks, Alaska, will approach 80 degrees on Mother’s Day, which is about 20 degrees above normal, AccuWeather reports.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Weather, Mother’s Day: Cold, snow in East; unusually hot in Alaska

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