Valentine's Day: Dangerous cold shatters records across northeastern US

By By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist.
February 14, 2016, 11:45:25 PM EST

The coldest air of the winter is gripping much of the eastern United States and will feature single-digit and sub-zero temperatures in the Northeast through the Valentine's Day weekend.

The polar vortex is sending a dose of frigid air southward beyond the borders of Canada. Some of the air will slide directly southward from eastern Canada and avoid any warming effects of the milder waters of the Great Lakes.

The polar vortex is a storm that is typically centered near the North Pole and tends to keep the coldest air trapped in northern Canada. Occasionally, this storm weakens or shifts enough to allow frigid air to plummet southward into the United States.

Following a month with temperatures averaging 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal through the first ten days, temperatures through Valentine's Day weekend will be held 10-30 degrees below normal. Temperatures will be 30 degrees lower this weekend, when compared to highs last weekend.


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The cold air will be dangerous for those spending time outdoors not properly dressed. In addition to the dangers from frostbite and hypothermia, the magnitude of the cold air can cause unprotected pipes to burst, water mains to rupture and batteries to die in vehicles.

The direct shot of arctic air will yield below-zero temperatures on one or more nights from the central Appalachians to much of New England, including Boston, through Sunday night.

Lows in the single digits to near zero hit parts of northern and western Virginia to the Interstate 95 corridor of the mid-Atlantic, including New York City during Saturday night. All of New England fell below zero Fahrenheit Saturday night.

Record lows were broken across a large portions of the Northeast including Boston and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and New York City, Albany, Syracuse and Watertown, New York.

In some cases temperatures dipped to their lowest levels in decades during Sunday morning.

According to AccuWeather Meteorologist Edward Vallee, "High temperatures in the I-95 mid-Atlantic corridor will struggle to reach the lower 20s on Sunday and may not reach 10 over the interior."

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Wind and other factors will make it feel even colder. AccuWeather RealFeel® temperatures will dip to 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit lower than the actual temperature at times.

This will translate to RealFeel® temperatures well below zero over the interior Northeast during much of the weekend and barely above zero for a few hours during the afternoon hours near the Atlantic coast.

Temperatures dipped into the teens as far south as parts of the Carolinas and far northern Georgia.

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Freezing temperatures avoided the fruit and vegetable growing areas of central Florida during the weekend.

"Temperatures low enough to cause damage in the citrus growing areas of Florida are not likely this weekend," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dale Mohler.

As quickly as the arctic air arrives this weekend, it will leave early in the new week.

"While the temperature may get as low as all of last winter in some places this weekend, the cold air will not linger like it did last winter," according to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams. "Temperatures will rebound over much of the East to start the new week."


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