top of page

"Once in a Generation Type Cold Shot" Possible Late This Week for New England

It was only a matter of time. During this mild winter, there was one weekend that featured very cold temperatures. On Christmas weekend, temperatures were in the teens north and the 20s south. This cold retreated quickly and there has not been much in the way of arctic air since.

This upcoming weekend will feature not only the coldest air of this season, but some of the coldest air certain areas have seen for quite a while. This exceptionally cold air will penetrate the region on Thursday and will slide southward and encompass all of New England by Thursday night. Southern New England will likely see a morning high on Friday morning with temperatures falling during the day. The peak of the cold will be Saturday. This will set up a historically cold Saturday for some areas.

In Boston, the current forecast low for Friday night is -7°. The record low for this day is -2°. This will likely be the first time the city has dropped below zero in over five years. There are some indications that this event may be even colder than what is forecast right now. The NWS of Boston states:

"Looking more closely at the ensemble spread, can see potential for even lower temperatures than what is currently forecast. These details will come into better focus as this week progresses. The onset of this colder air currently looks to be sometime Thursday night into Friday."

Boston is a good indication of what southern New England will see, but temperatures will be far colder across northern New England. The NWS of Gray, Maine states:

"...the air mass looks supportive of temps falling into the -20s in and north of the Whites and western ME Mtns. The combination of wind and cold will likely necessitate wind chill headlines for portions of the forecast area. Current forecasts are for temps to plummet Thu night...with little if any recovery readings continue down below zero. Wind chills may fall below zero sometime early Fri morning and not recover back above zero until sometime Sun afternoon. Wind chills colder than -30 are possible for large sections of the forecast area. This has the potential to be a once in a generation type cold shot...even if it only lasts 24 to 48 hours."

This chart shows actual air temperatures, wind chills will be as low as -20° in southern New England and even -40° in northern New England on Friday night and during the day on Saturday.

Note that the National Weather Service calls this a "once in a generation type cold shot" for northern New England. A cold snap this arctic is rare for New England. When arctic air penetrates the central United States, it can bring temperatures of -30 to even -50 in the central plains. As this air shifts east, it typically moderates to a level that is much more stable for New England. While temperatures will not be as cold as they are in portions of the central plains this week, it is going to be far colder than what most cold snaps bring.

This cold snap may be comparable to a cold snap that struck New England in February of 2016. Temperatures forecast right now are similar to those felt during that snap, however, as the NWS of Boston stated, there is some signal that temperatures could drop further than what is currently forecast. This will be the coldest Boston has been since the 2016 event, when the city recorded a temperature of -9°.

As cold as this snap will be, it will follow the pattern New England has been in all winter. That pattern being that any cold temperatures that arrive exit very quickly. It happened on Christmas weekend, and it will happen this weekend.

Temperatures will start off in the single digits and below zero on Sunday morning. By Sunday afternoon, temperatures will shoot up 25 to 35 degrees during the day, with afternoon highs topping out in the 30s for most of the region.



bottom of page