Much of the US will be below freezing New Year’s Day
Forget the tux and the little black dress for New Year’s Eve. This year you may want to bust out your parka and a hat with earflaps.
From New England to Texas, weather forecasters warn it’s going to be 20 degrees to 40 degrees colder than usual over New Year’s. Much of the US won’t get above freezing all day.
If the present forecast holds true, this will be the third-coldest New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York City since the event started in 1907. The expected low will be 11 degrees, with a windchill of zero.
And those numbers pale compared to what Minneapolis and Chicago might put on the board on New Year’s Eve. Minneapolis is expected to log a low of -13, while the forecast for Chicago is for wind-chill temperatures down to 15 below.
Earlier this week a record 58 inches of snow fell on Erie, Pennsylvania, in two days. The weather triggered a snow emergency in northwestern Pennsylvania, where 21 National Guard troops were placed on active duty.
The temperature plunged to a record-setting -36 on Wednesday in International Falls, Minnesota, known widely as the "icebox of the nation."
Walking to the car in International Falls this week required two or three layers of clothing, said Erica Shumacher Lange, who took a photograph of her car thermometer registering at -25 on Wednesday. She and her family lasted about 15 minutes outdoors before they retreated inside.
"It took longer to get dressed," she said.
Keeping as much skin covered as possible in cold weather is the best defense against frostbite, the National Weather Service counsels. Frostbite is most common on ears, cheeks, chin, nose, fingers and toes and can happen in 30 minutes.
Hypothermia is also a risk. The symptoms are shivering, slurred speech, drowsiness and loss of coordination.
Weather patterns Thursday are setting the course for the frigid New Year's conditions. The arctic air centered over the Northeast and New England states is pushing temperatures way below average, while another arctic front will enter the Northern Plains Friday and spread south and east over the weekend.
Temperatures will be 20 degrees below average on Sunday from the Northeast to central Texas, and the Central Plains will be nearly 40 degrees below average.
But if you must ring in the new year someplace toasty, it's not too late to make plans. Highs in the mid-70s are projected this weekend for Phoenix, Miami and Palm Springs, California.