Northeast Facing Record-Low Temperatures As Polar Vortex Returns; Nat Gas Prices Soar 700%

The return of the dreaded polar vortex is battering much of the eastern US this week, sending temperatures well into freezing territory and close to record lows - a phenomenon that could persist for much of the week leading up to Thanksgiving.

According to the New York Post, record-low temperatures are forecast for Friday and Saturday, with nighttime and early-morning mercury dipping into the 20s.

The temperature dropped into the 20s in some places in the northeast last night, and could sink as low as 21 degrees fahrenheit on Saturday, according to AccuWeather forecasts.

The record low for November 10 was 27 degrees in 1914. The high Saturday will be 37 to 43 degrees - up from the predawn low of about 24 degrees. The record low for November 11 was 29 degrees, set in 1933.

The forecast calls for 50 degrees on Monday, setting off eight straight days with high temps of at least 50, AccuWeather said.

The forecasting service added that signs are pointing toward a shift of the polar vortex that may cause snow, rain and other hazardous weather conditions like icy roads in some parts of the Northeast.

Right now, a cold snap is bringing an abrupt November reality check to most of the eastern US that will persist for the rest of the Veterans’ Day weekend. As Accuweather explains, the weather pattern will become even more interesting later in the week because it will feature a meteorological phenomenon called “the Greenland block”.

This pattern consists of relatively high pressure wind pattern near greenland that forces the polar jet stream to move sharply south toward the eastern US.

"Model forecasts have been pretty consistent and increasingly strong with the -NAO," said Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist with the Weather Company, an IBM Business.

Crawford said the strength of this upcoming Greenland block/negative NAO would be about a "90th percentile event for late November.” In early to mid-November, it’s far more rare.



The first snow.

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While the pattern is of relatively high confidence, there are some impacts we're more confident about and others that remain uncertain this far out in time.

One near certainty in this pattern is another series of plunges of colder air deep into the Midwest and East by the weekend before Thanksgiving.

If the weather pattern holds, it’d be impossible to rule out a powerful snowstorm arriving just in time for the Thanksgiving travel season. Indeed, snow is already falling in the Chicago area.

However, none of this is certain - yet. It’s merely just something to keep an eye on, Accuweather’s meteorologists said.

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The unseasonably cold weather is, of course, another boon for the energy market, with natural gas prices in New England soaring 700% this week as refineries braced for the uptick in demand.

According to Accuweather, the heating season is starting off with a frigid start, which has boosted prices of spot gas for Boston and other cities in the region eightfold this week to $8.0195 per million British thermal units Thursday on ICE, their highest level since Jan. 6. Regional power prices also jumped. Boston's low on Friday was around 20 degrees Fahrenheit - 17 degrees below normal.