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Mexican Cold Wave Chills Population, Rivals Records

By Story by Jim Andrews, AccuWeather.com Senior Forecaster
February 05, 2011, 5:34:08 AM EST

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A blast of arctic cold that swept over the Great Plains and Southwest in the United States has also thrust deep into Mexico with bone-chilling effect Wednesday and Thursday.

The extreme cold, potentially having temperatures at or below record levels, stressed populations unaccustomed to such weather. Heightened heating demand also burdened the electrical grid.


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Low temperatures (degrees F) early Thursday morning on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.


Thursday morning, temperatures dove into the single digits F in the northern high, intermountain states of Chihuahua and Coahuila. Temperatures bottomed between 5 and 14 degrees F, or between -15 C and -10 C, in the city of Chihuahua, and much of the state as a whole. This also happened as far south and east as Saltillo, Coahuila's state capital and a highland city located southwest of Monterrey.

Ciudad Juarez, lying across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, shared its sister city's weather. Stinging winds and about 2 inches (5 cm) of snow accompanied El Paso's record low maximum temperature (17 F, a staggering 43 degrees F below normal) Wednesday. Thursday morning, temperatures as low as 2 F (-17 C) in El Paso, and 3 F (-16 C) in Ciudad Juarez, were reported. Wind chill was below -15 F, or -25 C, at times.

It was reported that the cold was the most severe since 1951 in Juarez. Schools and businesses shut, and there were also power blackouts. Some residents fled to shelters.

The lower reaches of the Rio Grande offered no resistance whatsoever to the biting-cold norther penetrating northeastern Mexico. Temperatures dipped into the 20s F (down to about -5 C) in the states of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, including the cities of Monterrey, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros, to name a few. Heavy clouds even spit a little freezing rain, sleet and snow.

The cold wave also spilled over to northwestern Mexico, an area of mild winters that hosts winter crops grown in part for export to the U.S. Frosts and freezes were observed into the lowlands of the states of Sonora and northern Baja California.

Unusual cold, albeit with day-to-day moderation in temperature, will grip the northern quarter to one-third of Mexico through Saturday.

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