Pattern Change Finally Brings Fall-Like Conditions in East, Midwest and Record Cold to Rockies, Plains

Linda Lam
Published: October 16, 2018

A change in the jet stream pattern has finally brought refreshingly cool, dry fall weather to the soaked and sweaty East, but it's also bringing a blast of arctic air that is setting daily record cold temperatures early this week in the Plains and Rockies.

After a record- or near-record-warm September and a record-warm start to October, temperatures plunged in the East as far south as Florida this past weekend.

Current U.S. Temperatures

This cooler air snapped some record-long streaks above 60 degrees at Savannah, Georgia, and above 70 degrees at Gainesville and Tampa, Florida. These record-warm streaks had been ongoing since May or June.

Meanwhile, cold arctic air is plunging down the Rockies and Plains, with temperatures more reminiscent of winter.

The jet stream will bulge northward over the West Coast and then dip southward over portions of the central and eastern United States this week.

East Outlook

A reinforcing cold front moved through much of the East Monday night into Tuesday morning, knocking temperatures down once again to more fall-like readings and swept humidity away. 

Showers and above-average temperatures, however, will linger in the Southeast through Wednesday before the frontal system moves out of the region.

Five-Day Forecast

By later this week, only parts of Florida may see temperatures above average for mid-October.

Central Shiver

Meanwhile, a powerful cold front has brought the coldest air of the season to the Plains and Rockies.

With a high of only 49 degrees Monday – just after midnight, nonetheless – Dallas-Fort Worth set a new record-cold high temperature for Oct. 15.

It was also the earliest day on record – by a full week – that Dallas-Fort Worth failed to reach 50 degrees. The previous record was Oct. 22, 1936, when the high was just 48 degrees.

Midland, Texas, shattered its record-cold high Monday as temperatures only reached 42 degrees. The old record for the date was 56 degrees set in 1941.

Additional record cold high temperatures set on Monday include Marquette, Michigan (36 degrees), Wichita, Kansas (47 degrees), Salina, Kansas (47 degrees), Oklahoma City (50 degrees), Waco, Texas (54 degrees)

Daily record lows were broken or tied Monday morning in Cheyenne, Wyoming (11 degrees), Colorado Springs (16 degrees), Denver (18 degrees), Kansas City (30 degrees), Wichita (31 degrees), Oklahoma City (35 degrees) and Dallas-Fort Worth (41 degrees).

Mountain locations in Colorado even saw temperatures slip below zero early Monday.

On Sunday, Laramie, Wyoming, set a daily record low of 2 degrees, and Kansas City had its earliest measurable snow (0.2 inches) in records dating to 1898.

Additional record daily low temperatures and record-cold high temperatures are possible through Tuesday in the Rockies and Plains.

Forecast Lows

Daytime highs won't be all that warm, struggling to rise out of the 40s or lower 50s in much of northern and western Texas through midweek.

A Look Ahead

The colder-than-average temperatures will likely persist through the week ahead from the central and southern Rockies into the central and southern Plains, Midwest and Northeast.

The latest temperature outlook from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center indicates the Northeast has the highest chance to experience colder-than-average conditions this weekend into the first half of next week.

Six- to 10-Day Temperature Outlook

However, temperatures will likely be generally near- to above-average for Florida.

Through mid-October, the West Coast might see warmer temperatures than experienced recently due to the upper-level ridge of high pressure expected to be in place toward the coast. This milder air may spread into parts of the northern Rockies and perhaps the northern Plains late this week.

(MORE: Early-Winter Temperature Outlook)

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