Monday, March 23, 2015

Coldest Spot In Northern Hemisphere Was in Quebec, New England

This graphic generated by the National Weather Service
office in South Burlingotn, Vermont shows
a Sunday depiction of the core of the coldest
air over Quebec and Ontario. Click on the image to
make it bigger and easier to read.  
Congratulations, residents of southern Quebec and maybe northern New England!

By one measure, you were probably the coldest spot in the northern hemisphere last night and this morning.

When analyzing data for forecasts, meteorologists look to levels of the atmosphere above the Earth's surface in layers from a few thousand to tens of thousands of feet above the ground.

That helps the meteorologists understand flow patterns of temperature, moisture and wind, and from there, they can forecast what's going to happen down where we live.

Starting at just a few thousand feet above the Earth's surface, the coldest temperatures found anywhere in the northern hemisphere was southern Quebec last night. That cold spot pretty much extended into northern New England as well.

This area of cold was more frigid than the North Pole, the ice caps of Greenland and the most northern remote regions of Siberia.

Down at the Earth's surface, where we live, there was probably a few places up by the North Pole, extreme northern Alaska and Greenland that were colder than Quebcc, southeastern Ontario and New England.

That's because the sun's angle is still higher here than points north, so the ground levels can be heated more efficiently than at the North Pole. Plus, there's less snow and ice here that in places like Greenland, so what meager heat comes from the sun won't be reflected back to space as much.

The "heat," if you want to call it that, from the sun lingers to a small extent in more southern places like Montreal and Maine during the night, so yeah, we're probably warmer than the high elevation ice cap of Greenland.

And the top of Greenland's ice cap is at a much higher elevation than Quebec or New England, so it is colder there.

Still, the fact that Quebec and New England are colder a few thousand feet above the surface is remarkable to say the least.  The coldest pool of air in the northern hemisphere usually doesn't settle this far south.

Though it might be colder in one or two places at the top of the world, it's certainly cold enough here. Subzero readings this Monday morning are reported in spots across Quebec, Ontario, northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Especially in Quebec, the other eastern provinces of Quebec and New England, it was quite windy Sunday and last night, and will continue to be very gusty today. Wind chills were in the teens or even 20s below in some areas Monday morning.

I don't think I've ever seen wind chill advisories in Vermont, New York, New Hampshire and Maine this late in the season.

Highs yesterday and today in the teens are colder than the normal overnight lows this time of year. A few record lows will fall.

The cold air will retreat north closer to where it belongs starting Tuesday, and there will be a brief period of near normal temperatures Wednesday and Thursday.

Then it gets cold again for next weekend. But not as cold as it is now. It most likely won't be this frigid again in Quebec, Ontario and New England until next November or December.

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