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Eastern U.S. braces for most frigid start to New Year in decades: Here’s how cold

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Forecast low temperatures for lower 48 States on Jan. 1 from the National Weather Service. (WeatherBell.com)

Eight degrees. That’s the predicted average low temperature for the lower 48 States on New Year’s Day.

A third (34 percent) of the area in the contiguous states is forecast to plummet below zero.

Temperatures in 90 percent of the nation will be below freezing and, in the east, all but the Florida peninsula will feel the wrath of subfreezing wind chills. A remarkable 156 million people are under wind chill alerts across the nation.



NAM model forecast wind chills at 7 a.m. New Year’s Day.

In recent decades, there is no precedent for extreme cold covering such a large area on Jan. 1.

The bitter cold began about Christmas and has refused to relent, coming in a series of surges. The blast ringing in the new year is the latest reinforcement. It arrived in the north-central United States on Saturday and consumed most of the eastern two-thirds of the nation by New Year’s Eve.

In the Dakotas on New Year’s Eve morning, wind chills crashed as low as minus-50 to minus-60.

The air temperature in Minneapolis and Chicago dropped to minus-16 and zero Sunday morning. Their forecast temperature in 2018’s opening seconds? Minus-12 and 1.

The District, where the high stalled at 23 degrees, likely had its coldest New Year’s Eve since 1962. When the ball drops in New York City to mark the start of 2018, the forecast temperature is 10 degrees with a chill factor of minus-5, also the coldest since 1962.

Here are forecast highs and lows at a select set of cities New Year’s Day:

  • Minneapolis: High: 2, low: minus-14
  • Milwaukee: High: 7, low: minus-5
  • St. Louis: High: 8, low: minus-3
  • Oklahoma City: High: 17, low: 5
  • Dallas: High: 28, low: 17
  • Chicago: High: 4, low: minus-5
  • Detroit: High: 10, low: minus-2
  • Cleveland: High: 12, low: 2
  • Indianapolis: High: 3, low: minus-8
  • Memphis: High: 20, low: 10
  • Boston: High: 11, low: 0
  • New York: High: 20, low: 5
  • Pittsburgh: High: 14, low: 0
  • Washington: High: 23, low: 12
  • Raleigh, N.C.: High: 28, low: 16
  • Atlanta: High: 32, low: 22

The eastern U.S. will remain unseasonably cold through the first week of the new year, with yet another very powerful blast arriving between Jan. 3 and 5 from west to east.

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