A look at weather extremes and the big-picture climate connections.

Weird Weather Week: Southern Snow and Northeast Heat

To understand how odd the weather has been so far this week, consider this: yesterday, New York City basked in record-setting 70°F warmth, which set a new daily high temperature record for the date. At the same time, snow was moving into southern locales like Memphis and Nashville, TN. 

Satellite image on Nov. 29, showing the large swirl from the upper level low over the Tennesse River Valley. Credit: CIMMS.

Both the unusual warmth in the Northeast as well as the snow in the South were tied to the same weather system — a strong area of low pressure in the upper levels of the atmosphere that was cut off from broader steering currents, known to meteorologists as a "cut off low." This system, along with an area of low pressure at the surface, helped pump warm air up the eastern seaboard, while manufacturing just enough cold air in the South to produce the highly unusual snow.

The jackpot so far was the town of Denmark, Tennessee, where five inches fell. Missouri was particularly hard hit by the snow as well, with 3.5 inches falling in the town of Malden. The National Weather Service produced an interactive map of snowfall totals.

November snow is exceptionally rare in the Memphis area. According to The Weather Channel, Memphis has had just three days with an inch or more of snow in November since records began there in 1875. The Weather Channel also posted Weather Service snowfall reports from Memphis, Paducah, and Jonesboro.

Radar image on Nov. 29. The blue area marks the region where snow was falling, whereas rain is shown in green.

On the warm side of the weather system, Newark, NJ and New York City both tied or set new records for the daily high temperature as well as warm overnight low temperatures. In Central Park, the overnight low dipped to a still-balmy 56°F, breaking the old record of 55°F set in 1990.

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