Past week sets weird weather records in area

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Fall 2019 will be remembered as a season of extremes after setting record high temperatures at the start of October and now record low temperatures in the middle of November.

Daytime high temperatures topped out in the 90s for the first few days of October, but Edgar County has been experiencing quite the opposite for the past week.

The week started off above average with highs in the 60s on Nov. 10, but a strong cold front pushed through later that day ushering in a surge of cold air.

On Nov. 11, a low-pressure system tracked southeast of the area, and as a result, Edgar County was on the cold side of the system where most of the precipitation fell in the form of snow. It was the snowiest Veterans Day on record for the city of Paris.

Records for the city – dating back to 1893 – are from the Sewer Treatment Plant where three inches of snow was measured Monday. That amount broke the previous record of a half-inch that fell 111 years ago in 1908. The snow wasn’t the only thing falling on Monday, though.

Temperatures steadily dropped throughout the day, and by Tuesday morning, thermometers read 6 degrees, breaking the old record of 12 degrees set in 1976. While temperatures were in the single digits, it felt much colder due to a persistent northerly wind. Wind chill readings, or what the temperature feels like on exposed skin, were 10 to 15 degrees below zero at times. The combination of plummeting temperatures and snow led to a messy situation on area roadways.

The snow initially melted as it fell since the ground was still warm, but the quickly dropping temperatures transformed the melting snow into a layer of ice as the evening progressed. With temperatures in the single digits Tuesday morning, many roads were still covered with snow and ice, prompting several area school districts, including Paris, Kansas and Marshall to call off classes for the day.

“The slick roads were the leading factor in the decision, along with the freezing temperatures,” said Danette Young, Superintendent of Crestwood Community Unit School District 4.

Young said Tuesday was the earliest snow day she can remember for Crestwood, and her predecessor shared similar thoughts.

“While I do not have the data to back it up, I am fairly certain that November 12 is the earliest snow day that has ever been called,” said Lorraine Bailey, co-principal of Paris High School who formerly served as Crestwood’s Superintendent before retiring in 2017. “I can remember a few in late November/early December, but never any as early as November 12.”

Paris District 95 Superintendent of Schools Jeremy Larson also canceled classes Tuesday due to the icy conditions. His thinking matched that of Young and Bailey.

“Tuesday was the earliest snow day I can recall,” he said.

Despite abundant sunshine Tuesday, the fresh snow pack kept daytime highs in the teens, and once the sun set, clear skies allowed temperatures to fall even lower than Monday night. Without clouds, there was nothing above the surface to trap the heat of the day. Known as radiational cooling, the warm air escaped through the atmosphere.

Around midnight Wednesday, temperatures bottomed out at 2 degrees before the wind shifted and came from the south, slowly raising temperatures through the morning. By falling to 2 degrees, Paris set another record, replacing the old record low temperature for Nov. 13 of 9 degrees, which was recorded in 1986.

The early Arctic blast is a result of the jet stream taking a southerly track. The jet stream is a channel of fast-moving air high in the atmosphere that separates warm and cold air masses. As it dipped south of the area, cold air from the Arctic plunged southward into the region. This pattern was reinforced by the remnants of Super Typhoon Halong, which churned in the North Pacific near Alaska. With mild air pushing north toward Alaska, the cold air around the North Pole was forced south across Canada and the United States.

The jet stream has since lifted back to the north, but temperatures have struggled to return to seasonal averages. Temperatures are expected to be in the lower 40s this weekend before climbing near 50 next week.

The average high for today is 52 degrees and the average low is 34 degrees.