On Tuesday morning, millions of people woke up under wind chill alerts ahead of what will not only be the coldest day of the week, but also the coldest day in three years, for portions of the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and the Northeast. 

Air temperatures at sunrise were in the single digits to below zero, with wind chills as cold as 30 degrees below zero across northern New England.

In fact, the air was so cold, it could be seen from space, on infrared satellite.

On Tuesday, high temperatures were forecast to be a chilling 15 to 30 degrees below average, especially across the Northeast. That means highs in the teens and 20s for most.

With a high temperature forecast of 22 for New York and 12 for Boston, these will be the coldest afternoons for these metros since 2019.

Boston’s public school system, the largest in Massachusetts, announced Monday that schools will not open on Tuesday because of expected extremely cold temperatures. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that four Covid-19 testing sites overseen by the state would be closed Tuesday because of the cold.

The good news is this is a short-lived cold blast, with temperatures rebounding by Wednesday, with temperatures forecast to be warmer through the end of the week.

Adding to the shock to the system of the frigid temperatures is the fact that the continental United States just came off its warmest December on record, which helped to rocket 2021 to the fourth warmest year on record.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 10 states — Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas — individually all had their warmest Decembers on record.

The record warmth fueled multiple tornado outbreaks, leading to 193 confirmed tornadoes which became the most December tornadoes on record.

Looking at 2021 as a whole, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 54.5 degrees, a staggering 2.5 degrees above the 20th-century average.

The six warmest years on record have all occurred since 2012.

Maine and New Hampshire had their second-warmest year on record with 19 additional states across the Northeast, Great Lakes, Plains and West experiencing a top-five warmest year.

Kathryn Prociv is a senior meteorologist and producer for NBC News. 

The Associated Press




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