Cold Sunday
"Cold Sunday" was a meteorological
Meteorology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere. Studies in the field stretch back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw breakthroughs occur after observing networks developed across several countries...

 event which took place on January 17, 1982, when unprecedentedly cold air swept down from Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and plunged temperatures across much of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 far below existing all-time record lows.

The phenomenon was caused by an unusually strong high pressure system
High pressure area
A high-pressure area is a region where the atmospheric pressure at the surface of the planet is greater than its surrounding environment. Winds within high-pressure areas flow outward due to the higher density air near their center and friction with land...

 over Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

 with a core pressure of 31.15 inHg (1055 hPa
Pascal (unit)
The pascal is the SI derived unit of pressure, internal pressure, stress, Young's modulus and tensile strength, named after the French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and philosopher Blaise Pascal. It is a measure of force per unit area, defined as one newton per square metre...

/mbar), a level rarely seen outside of permanent polar
Polar region
Earth's polar regions are the areas of the globe surrounding the poles also known as frigid zones. The North Pole and South Pole being the centers, these regions are dominated by the polar ice caps, resting respectively on the Arctic Ocean and the continent of Antarctica...

 areas such as Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 and Antarctica. A recent snow
Snow is a form of precipitation within the Earth's atmosphere in the form of crystalline water ice, consisting of a multitude of snowflakes that fall from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material. It has an open and therefore soft structure, unless packed by...

fall had left the ground without any way to hold on to its heat and temperatures dropped precipitously. This mass of cold air was so strong that the temperature at Mequon, Wisconsin
Mequon, Wisconsin
Mequon is a city in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin, United States. It had a population of 21,823 at the 2000 census, and an estimated population of 23,739 in July 2009...

, dropped to −40 °F (−40 °C). The previous record was −28 °F (−33 °C) and temperatures below −20 °F (−29 °C) had only been felt there six times in the previous 100 years. The lowest temperature recorded that day in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 was −52 °F (−47 °C), measured near Tower, Minnesota
Tower, Minnesota
As of the census of 2000, there are 479 people in the city, organized into 233 households and 137 families. The population density is 176.8 people per square mile . There are 295 housing units at an average density of 108.9 per square mile...


Below is a partial list of cities which set all-time record low temperatures in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. This is only a small fraction of all locales setting record low temperatures: Hundreds of towns and cities from North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

 to New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 to Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

 broke records, and the vast majority of the records set on "Cold Sunday" still stand. The cold was not confined to the night, either. In Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton is a community located in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. It is best known as the location of Princeton University, which has been sited in the community since 1756...

, and Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio. Cincinnati is the county seat of Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located to north of the Ohio River at the Ohio-Kentucky border, near Indiana. The population within city limits is 296,943 according to the 2010 census, making it Ohio's...

, the daytime high temperatures were 2 °F (−17 °C) and −9 °F (−23 °C). The average high temperature in January is 39 °F (4 °C) in both cities.

While much of central and south Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 escaped the deep freeze, enough damage was done to citrus crops in the north-central part of the state during the month of January to write off the 1982 harvest as a disaster.
  • International Falls, Minnesota
    International Falls, Minnesota
    International Falls is a city in and the county seat of Koochiching County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 6,424 at the 2010 census....

    : −45 °F (−43 °C)
  • Saint Cloud, Minnesota: −35 °F (−37 °C)
  • Madison, Wisconsin
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the county seat of Dane County. It is also home to the University of Wisconsin–Madison....

    : −31 °F (−35 °C)
  • Green Bay, Wisconsin
    Green Bay, Wisconsin
    Green Bay is a city in and the county seat of Brown County in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, located at the head of Green Bay, a sub-basin of Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the Fox River. It has an elevation of above sea level and is located north of Milwaukee. As of the 2010 United States Census,...

    : −28 °F (−33 °C)
  • Chicago, Illinois: −27 °F (−33 °C)
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Milwaukee is the largest city in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, the 28th most populous city in the United States and 39th most populous region in the United States. It is the county seat of Milwaukee County and is located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. According to 2010 census data, the...

    : −26 °F (−32 °C)
  • Moline, Illinois
    Moline, Illinois
    Moline is a city located in Rock Island County, Illinois, United States, with a population of 45,792 in 2010. Moline is one of the Quad Cities, along with neighboring East Moline and Rock Island in Illinois and the cities of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa. The Quad Cities has a population of...

    : −23 °F (−31 °C)
  • Peoria, Illinois
    Peoria, Illinois
    Peoria is the largest city on the Illinois River and the county seat of Peoria County, Illinois, in the United States. It is named after the Peoria tribe. As of the 2010 census, the city was the seventh-most populated in Illinois, with a population of 115,007, and is the third-most populated...

    : −23 °F (−31 °C)
  • Akron, Ohio
    Akron, Ohio
    Akron , is the fifth largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Summit County. It is located in the Great Lakes region approximately south of Lake Erie along the Little Cuyahoga River. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 199,110. The Akron Metropolitan...

    : −22 °F (−30 °C)
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Pittsburgh is the second-largest city in the US Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Allegheny County. Regionally, it anchors the largest urban area of Appalachia and the Ohio River Valley, and nationally, it is the 22nd-largest urban area in the United States...

    : −18 °F (−28 °C)
  • Cleveland, Ohio
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

    : −17 °F (−27 °C)
  • Jackson, Mississippi
    Jackson, Mississippi
    Jackson is the capital and the most populous city of the US state of Mississippi. It is one of two county seats of Hinds County ,. The population of the city declined from 184,256 at the 2000 census to 173,514 at the 2010 census...

    : −5 °F (−21 °C)
  • Washington, DC: −5 °F (−21 °C)
  • Birmingham, Alabama
    Birmingham, Alabama
    Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. According to the 2010 United States Census, Birmingham had a population of 212,237. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S...

    : −2 °F (−19 °C)

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