Cold end to month sets records; more possible

ALPENA — The month of December began with mild weather where record high temperatures were approached. Three weeks later record cold temperatures are being shattered.

According to the National Weather Service more temperature records could fall in the coming days before a brief warm-up arrives. More cold air is expected to return later next week.

On Wednesday a cold temperature record from 2004 was tied when a reading at Alpena County Regional Airport recorded a temperature of -16 degrees. The Arctic air remained in the area and the record low temperature record for Dec. 28 was broken Thursday when the thermometer dropped to -19. The previous record was -9 degrees, which was set in 1967.

Meteorologist Andy Sullivan said the cold weather moved into northern Michigan quickly and settled in.

“It went from the mid 50s the first week of December and then dropped into the mid-20s in one day’s time,” Sullivan said. “The cold Arctic air has just been locked into the area since.”

Sullivan said looking at the weekend and next week, there will be little relief from the bitter cold. He said there is a chance more record could fall in the coming days.

“The air is going to be cold enough, but it will depend on how much cloud cover there is,” he said. “The clouds act like a blanket and can actually keep things a little warmer. But if we get a few clear nights there could be more records broken.”

As cold as it has been, Sullivan said it could have been worse. Except for a few days earlier in the month the winds have been mild, which has led to little wind chill. He said if there was more wind, the cold would be much more severe.

“It has been mostly calm, and although it has been really cold it hasn’t been that brutal cold where the wind blows right through you,” Sullivan said. “If we would have had a stiff breeze or higher wind gusts, temperatures would have plunged even more significantly.”

Sullivan said temperatures will remain in the low teens and single digits though the weekend and there will be an increase in the winds as well. He said there is a chance of snow showers today.

Sullivan said there could be a slight warm-up Tuesday when it could reach 20 degrees, but then another round of Arctic air will move in and temperatures will slide again.

Sullivan said although it is going to remain cold for about 10 days, more seasonable temperatures will return midway though the month.

“There is some light at the end of the tunnel, but we aren’t going to reach it any time soon,” he said.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.