MLK Day Storm Proved to be a Strong One Across the Country

Written by Mary Wasson, Meteorologist

Last updated 1/20/2024, 11:24:08 AM

This week's winter storm produced arctic temperatures for 80% of the country, and according to the National Weather Service, almost 150million people were under Wind Chill Warnings and Advisories.

Many locations saw below-zero temperatures and one of the coldest was Limon, Colorado, which reported a temperature of -29 on Tuesday which was the coldest temperature on record in that area since 1948.  Numerous daily cold records were set this week across Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Dallas saw temperatures at or below freezing for 89 hours!

It also produced a significant amount of snow from the Central Plains to the Southeast and along the East Coast.  This storm ended the nearly 2-year snow drought in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C., where snow totals finally topped 1” or more! 

It snowed as far south as Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida, on Tuesday morning, and while there was no accumulation, both cities reported rare snowfall for a few hours. Places like Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee reported up to 8” or more earlier in the week. 

Lake effect snow was prominent around the Great Lakes, especially in New York. Western New York measured more than 2 feet of snow with localized areas picking up over 3 feet. The snow caused the Buffalo Bills to postpone their game and asked fans to help shovel out the stands at Highmark Stadium.  

In a rare event, lake effect snow was also reported in Texas, near Dallas.

The storm also caused major problems for electric cars as frigid temperatures zapped the batteries on electric cars. In cities like Chicago, Tesla graveyards were reported when the cold weather affected the efficiency of the batteries, reducing the range electric vehicles can travel. The batteries also charge slower so the demand for EV charging outpaced the EV-charger infrastructure.

The good news from this storm was that only a handful of power outages were reported in Texas as the energy grid, ERCOT, stayed within operating limits. Also, many locations received some much-needed moisture to help with drought conditions and also brought snow back to areas that haven’t seen it in almost 2 years.