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Polar vortex whips millions of Americans with strong winds, record lows and even snow

More than 100 million Americans will see temperatures drop below freezing this weekend, a harsh contrast to last week's sunny weather.Saturday started...

Posted: May 9, 2020 9:45 PM

More than 100 million Americans will see temperatures drop below freezing this weekend, a harsh contrast to last week's sunny weather.

Saturday started with a tied record for the latest snowfall in New York City's Central Park, with light snow reported by the National Weather Service.

The NWS tweeted: "Snow in Central Park! In May! The Central Park Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) recorded snow. This ties the record latest snow set on this day in 1977."

Central Park on Saturday morning also hit a daily record low of 34 degrees Fahrenheit.

The white stuff also fell overnight in Pennsylvania and upstate New York, and continued Saturday in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine. Shaftsbury, Vermont, got 9 inches, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported.

At least 20 states were under a frost or freeze watch, warning or advisory on Saturday morning. Although most of those states are in the Midwest or Northeast, the advisories stretch all the way down to Georgia and South Carolina.

In some Northeast states, it felt more like early March than May. A system that began in the Great Lakes region was set to bring gusty winds and 6 to 12 inches of wet snow to New England.

"It appears that interior New England will see significant amounts of wet snow with northerly winds becoming increasingly strong and gusty late Friday night into Saturday morning," the Weather Prediction Center said.

For cities like New York, Albany and Hartford, cold rain will be the main focus, but some snow could mix in.

Check your local forecast temperature here >>>

Blame the polar vortex

More than 40 cities across the Midwest and Northeast set daily low temperature records Saturday morning, including Pittsburgh at 28 degrees and Baltimore at 34.

For Fort Wayne, Indiana, it was also the coldest temperature ever recorded so late in the season and the coldest temperature recorded in May, in addition to a daily record low (23 degrees).

The polar vortex was so strong this winter and spring that it led to the largest-ever Arctic ozone hole, but not a lot of cold weather.

The polar vortex, as its scary name suggests, is a circulation of strong, upper-level winds that normally surround the northern pole, moving in a west to east direction -- a polar low-pressure system.

These winds tend to keep the bitter cold air locked in the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. On occasion, the vortex can become distorted and dip further south, allowing cold air to spill southward.

But it didn't spill out into the US this winter. That's why the spring and winter have been mild and major East Coast cities saw low snowfall amounts.

Now the polar vortex is weakening, allowing Arctic air to spill out -- leading to plunging temperatures in the East this weekend.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 749097

Reported Deaths: 13745
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1030271775
Lake554211006
Allen41613691
St. Joseph36933564
Hamilton36505416
Elkhart29347459
Tippecanoe22849225
Vanderburgh22540400
Porter19313325
Johnson18386387
Hendricks17583317
Clark13190193
Madison13111344
Vigo12602253
LaPorte12385221
Monroe12152175
Delaware10947197
Howard10250225
Kosciusko9609119
Hancock8541144
Bartholomew8158157
Warrick7854156
Floyd7763180
Grant7227179
Wayne7154201
Boone6911103
Morgan6735141
Dubois6211118
Marshall6205116
Cass5989108
Henry5893108
Dearborn588878
Noble579786
Jackson508374
Shelby500697
Lawrence4727121
Gibson444093
Harrison440473
Clinton439855
DeKalb438585
Montgomery433890
Whitley405642
Huntington402181
Steuben398659
Miami392568
Jasper386254
Knox375690
Putnam371860
Wabash360583
Ripley346470
Adams344955
Jefferson335685
White329753
Daviess3028100
Wells294881
Decatur289992
Greene286385
Fayette284664
Posey273735
LaGrange272872
Scott269855
Clay265448
Randolph244683
Washington244534
Jennings235149
Spencer234131
Starke227558
Fountain218347
Sullivan213943
Owen210858
Fulton201542
Jay200832
Carroll193420
Orange188055
Perry186937
Rush175626
Vermillion173544
Franklin170135
Tipton165746
Parke148916
Pike137934
Blackford136032
Pulaski120047
Newton112636
Brown103943
Crawford102316
Benton100814
Martin91415
Warren83515
Switzerland8098
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0421

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1107047

Reported Deaths: 20091
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1284921459
Cuyahoga1155972204
Hamilton812991245
Montgomery524821040
Summit48339999
Lucas43303817
Butler38901603
Stark33286929
Lorain25641502
Warren24557303
Mahoning22330601
Lake21135385
Clermont20097252
Delaware18817135
Licking16645222
Fairfield16561204
Trumbull16522479
Medina15593270
Greene15252246
Clark14219306
Wood13280197
Portage13226214
Allen11905239
Richland11598211
Miami10835223
Wayne9116222
Columbiana9020230
Muskingum8889135
Pickaway8649122
Marion8635138
Tuscarawas8633247
Erie8052164
Ashtabula7137179
Hancock6996131
Ross6933161
Geauga6832150
Scioto6528104
Belmont6149174
Union583849
Lawrence5722102
Jefferson5669158
Huron5539122
Sandusky5436125
Darke5415129
Seneca5343126
Washington5308109
Athens523360
Auglaize501587
Mercer487385
Shelby476195
Knox4567112
Madison443765
Ashland435197
Putnam4333103
Fulton431871
Defiance431798
Crawford4033110
Brown401961
Logan387277
Preble3847103
Clinton378466
Ottawa372681
Highland359265
Williams347578
Champaign343658
Guernsey324153
Jackson317354
Perry297150
Morrow291340
Fayette285450
Hardin274865
Henry273267
Holmes2698101
Coshocton268359
Van Wert247264
Adams242856
Pike242735
Gallia240450
Wyandot234556
Hocking220162
Carroll196748
Paulding176342
Meigs148240
Monroe136144
Noble135839
Harrison113638
Morgan109624
Vinton85417
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 65°
Angola
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 61°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 65°
Decatur
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 65°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 62°
Tuesday is another mostly sunny and comfortable day with a small chance of a stray afternoon shower or sprinkle.
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