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The 3 Harshest Cold Snaps in American History

America is no stranger to sudden, harsh drops in temperature. After all, sitting between the jet stream and two oceans is sure to bring some unusual weather patterns to bear. Today, we’re taking a look back at some of the harshest and most sudden cold snaps in American history.

Christmas 1983

If you were around for Christmas 1983, you might remember some of the gifts you gave, or maybe some you received. However, what you almost assuredly remember is the weather. 1983 is still the coldest Christmas on record across the country, as it brought more than 120 low-temperature records to the US.

Meanwhile, the barometric pressure was off the charts. The pressure was so high, in fact, that the recording from a barometer in Miles City, Montana, (31.42 inches) remains the highest ever recorded in the US.

January, 1977

One of the things the ’70s are remembered for is being a very cold decade. Bouts of extreme cold snaps were the norm in the ’70s, and the cold snap of January, 1977 was the mother of them all. This cold snap was so intense that it brought snow to Miami for the first time in recorded history. The same happened in Freeport, in the Bahamas, which had never known snow prior to the January cold snap.

Meanwhile, the weather pattern gave rise to the Great Buffalo Blizzard of ’77, which brought so much snow to Upstate New York that cities in the region all but shut down. It turns out when you’re under 42 inches of snow and facing down 75 mph gusts of wind, it’s hard to get to work!

Arctic Outbreak, 1899

Right before the turn of the century, a wintry outbreak in February of 1899 made history. To this day, the cold snap is considered the very harshest ever recorded in the US: consider Logan, Montana, which struggled through -62 degrees F during the outbreak of arctic weather. The historic storms brought sub-zero temperatures to literally every state in the union at the time: all 45 of them.

Additionally, the weather pattern spawned numerous blizzards, which raged across the East Cost for two weeks, keeping the entire nation in the icy grip of winter. By the time all was said and done, DC alone had seen 30 inches of snow across the arctic outbreak.

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