Just when you thought it couldn’t get colder: A blast of cold air from Siberia shattered records in at least 60 cities on Friday morning, from Detroit to Miami to New York City. Washington, D.C. got down to 5 degrees, its coldest February 20th since 1896. Sub-freezing temperatures reached deep into the swamps of the Everglades in south Florida on one of the coldest mornings in decades. In the core of the cold air, from roughly Toronto, Ontario to Knoxville, Tennessee, temperatures were some 40 to 60 degrees colder than normal for late February.
One upside to the these historic levels of bone-chilling cold: Really cool images! Canadian videographer Brent Foster captured the nearly frozen Niagara Falls on Friday morning via drone. Over email, Foster describes the experience:
It was a very cold shoot, but we were very careful to keep flight times to a minimum and to keep my hands as warm as possible to maintain full control and stay safe during the flight. I personally have never seen Niagara Falls frozen like that before. It was spectacular to capture.
Temperatures in Buffalo, just a few miles from the falls, have averaged more than 13 degrees below normal so far in February and more than 23 degrees below normal over the past week. That’s enough to create some breathtaking ice formations near the base of the falls. The rushing water that creates the falls can never completely freeze solid, though in extreme cases it can create an “ice bridge” between the U.S. and Canada. In 1912, that ice bridge collapsed, killing several tourists that had walked out onto it. (So far, we’re not in ice bridge territory.)
As the climate warms, a frozen Niagara will surely become increasingly rare. Even this current cold snap is somewhat of a fluke—nationwide, there have been five times as many record highs so far in 2015 than record lows, with the western U.S. locked into persistent warmth.
No weather post these days can go without mentioning Boston, which has essentially swapped climates with Anchorage, Alaska, this winter. This has led to some radical snow removal plans amid massively growing piles tall enough to pose a danger to aircraft. After considering more elaborate solutions—say, a shoulder-mounted flamethrower, which turns out to be not very efficient—Randall Munroe, who lives in Boston and writes the xkcd comic strip, calculated that it’s probably best to just keep trying to shovel the snow out of the way.
Unfortunately, this ridiculously cold weather isn’t going anywhere. A persistent kink in the jet stream is sending wave after wave of Arctic air plunging toward the East Coast, a pattern that’s expected to last well into March.