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Bad weather: Record cold engulfs central U.S. while sweeping east

The Washington Post

A cold April is breaking records and delivering rare snowfall so deep into spring.

It’s not often you can make snow angels in late April.

A frosty last gasp of winter swallowed much of the central United States on Tuesday into Wednesday, delivering snow all the way down to the Mid-South and sending temperatures plummeting below freezing at a time of year when shorts and sandals usually begin making an appearance.

Scores of records lows were set throughout the heartland on Wednesday.

At least 80 million Americans were under frost or freeze alerts from the National Weather Service, with temperatures some 25 degrees below normal in spots bringing the feel of late February or early March.

On Wednesday morning, snow had pulled into New England after plastering a swath from the Rockies to the Northeast. Some locations in the Midwest and Tennessee Valley saw their biggest snow on record so late in the season Tuesday and Tuesday night.

The Arctic front responsible for the blast of cold was sweeping toward the East Coast on Wednesday afternoon, and more record low temperatures are likely to fall in its wake into Thursday. Low temperatures in the 20s to near freezing were expected from the eastern Rockies to the interior Northeast and as far south as northern Arkansas, Kentucky and the southern Appalachians.

Temperature records set

Record lows were set all the way to the Gulf Coast on Wednesday morning. Oklahoma City dropped to 30 degrees as the winds went calm about 5 a.m. That beat out the previous daily record of 34 degrees set in 1966. In fact, it’s the latest in the season that Oklahoma has ever recorded a 30-degree reading. The average low this time of year is 51 degrees.

It’s not just the Sooner State that’s getting a crisp start. Kansas City, Mo., dropped to 34 degrees — shy of a record but still a dozen degrees below average. Dallas cooled into the upper 30s, breaking a century-old record of 39 degrees observed in 1918.

Little Rock made it down to 36 degrees, too, also smashing a record of 39 set in 1983. That same cold outbreak in ’83 brought a reading of 29 degrees to Nashville; this time, Music City only managed to make it down to 36.

Memphis got down to 36 as well, and farther north, 20s littered the map. Chicago dropped to 34, and Des Moines into the upper 20s. Sioux City, Iowa, fell to 27, while Sioux Falls, S.D., plummeted to 19.

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