Arctic Outbreaks of January 1982

Two arctic outbreaks effected the eastern half of the CONUS on consecutive weekends in January 1982.

On January 10, a deep 500 hPa polar vortex was displaced southward over the Great lakes and Northeast U.S. which resulted in record minimum and record low maximum temperatures for many locations. At 850 hPa, -30C temperatures were advected southward into the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys due to the strong circulation with this feature. Note on the SD plots for 12Z January 10, that both 850 hPa and 500 hPa were 3-3.5 SDs below climatology. Also note that coldest temperature anomalies occurred where the lowest 850 hPa temperatures were observed.

On January 17, another arctic outbreak occurred however the brunt of the cold air plunged into the Northeast U.S. the 500 hPa data did not suggest an extraordinary scenario, but at 850 hPa, -40C temperatures covered Ontario and Quebec and the -30C isotherm extended southward well into Pennsylvania at 12Z. As was the case the week before, the coldest surface temperature anomalies correlated with the extreme 850 hPa cold.