John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Baltimore set a new all-time low of 4 degrees, and that's warm compared to the weather elsewhere.
If residents of the Northeast step outside, they'll know it's damnably cold. But if you need to hear it from an official source, the National Weather Service is reporting that Tuesday's spittle-solidifying frostiness brought with it "[q]uite a number of record low temperatures."
In Baltimore, the mercury dropped so fiercely it smashed a record set in 1873 – farewell 5 degrees, 4 degrees is the new all-time low to beat for the month of March. Polar conditions also reigned at Dulles airport near Washington, D.C., where a morning temperature of 1 degree below zero tied with a monthly record set on March 15, 1993. Don't worry, insane practitioners of extreme-winter jogging: The temperatures in the D.C. region today are expected to stay about 20 degrees below average.
Still, these conditions are practically balmy considering yesterday's chilly smackdown in West Virginia (minus 10 degrees in Elkins) and Pennsylvania (minus 13 in Bradford). The NWS has this nugget to add from the ocean boardwalk: "Also, at 1133 pm last night (technically March 3rd) the temperature at Atlantic City NJ fell to 2 degrees above zero, which broke the record low temperature for March."
America's so frigid that even its nether regions are shivering. At 34 degrees, the Dallas/Fort Worth area just logged its coldest March 3 on record (and the books go back to 1898). Freezing winds and sleet-covered roads led to school cancellations in Dallas; a spokesman said that in his "18 years being with the Dallas school district, this has been the most difficult year in determining how to respond to the weather."
In New Orleans for Mardi Gras, the air was so unpleasant that the number of breasts exposed dropped by 67.8 percent (actual number pending peer review). This was the sad scene of one rain-dampened parade:
Empty streets and small crowds for a cold and wet Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Too bad for such lousy weather. pic.twitter.com/XsGNYfCjVF— Jim Brown (@jimbrownla) March 4, 2014
Not to belabor the brrrr!, but this year also features the third-highest North American snow cover this late in the season since records began 48 years ago. Look at how far south this crusty snowfield stretches in this map tweeted out by NOAA Satellites:
For those who want to wallow in the details of this wintry crapitude, here's the full list of Tuesday's record lows:
Top image: A Philadelphia commuter's solution to the unusual single-digit weather on Tuesday. (Matt Rourke / Associated Press)