Coldest Air of the Season Will Sweep into the South and Midwest and Is Setting Records in the Rockies, West

Jonathan Erdman
Published: October 11, 2019

The most expansive chill so far this season will sweep into much of the United States through the weekend, ushering in much colder air that is setting record lows for mid-October in the West.

This powerful cold front has already brought much colder air to the Great Basin, Rockies and Plains. The chilly temperatures are now pushing into the Midwest and will spread into parts of the South this weekend. This system will also wring out a major, potentially record-setting October snowstorm in the Northern Plains.

Very sharp temperature drops will accompany the front. After a high of 74 degrees Wednesday afternoon, Cheyenne, Wyoming, experienced wind chills near zero degrees Thursday morning. Denver dropped from a high of 83 degrees Wednesday to a low of 13 degrees Thursday night, a 70-degree temperature change, which ranked as the greatest one- and two-day temperature drops on record for October and tied for the fourth-largest two-day temperature drop for any month in the Mile High City.

Current U.S. Temperatures

A Chilling Reality Check

This powerful cold front will continue its charge south and eastward into the rest of the Midwest and the South this weekend.

Highs will plunge from 10 to as much as 40 degrees below average after the front passes through.

Through this weekend, high temperatures may be stuck in the 30s and 40s over a large part of the Northern Plains and upper Mississippi Valley.

Highs may struggle into the 50s or 60s from parts of Texas into Tennessee this weekend.

Morning lows will be downright uncomfortable by mid-October standards.

Teens and 20s will be the rule in the northern Great Basin, Rockies and High Plains this weekend. A few areas with fresh snowpack may see morning lows plunge into the single digits.

Daily record lows will be in jeopardy in such cities as Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Wichita Falls, Texas; and Pueblo, Colorado, on Saturday morning.

Record-cold temperatures have already been set this week.

Denver plummeted to 9 degrees Friday morning, making it the city's coldest temperature so early in the autumn in any year dating back to the 1870s.

Daily record lows were also set Friday in Sheridan, Wyoming (14 degrees), Colorado Springs, Colorado, (14 degrees), Pueblo, Colorado (18 degrees), Grand Junction, Colorado (19 degrees), Pocatello, Idaho (19 degrees), Bend, Oregon (19 degrees), Wichita, Kansas (33 degrees), and Midland, Texas (40 degrees).

Great Falls, Montana, dropped to zero degrees Thursday morning, setting a new record for the coldest temperature so early in the season. The previous earliest zero-degree temperature was on Oct. 27, 1925.

Daily record lows were set Thursday morning in Burns, Oregon (8 degrees), Denver (13 degrees), Yakima, Washington (21 degrees), Pendleton, Oregon (22 degrees), Boise, Idaho (23 degrees), Portland, Oregon (33 degrees), and Salt Lake City (42 degrees).

Rapid City, South Dakota, set a daily record for coldest high temperature on Thursday, with a high of just 27 degrees.

The rapid, intense freeze could have major impacts on trees and shrubs that remain in full leaf in many parts of the region, including the Denver area, following one of the warmest Septembers on record.

It may also lead to a flash freeze on roads in areas where rain or light, wet snow melting on roads is immediately followed by subfreezing temperatures behind the cold front.

(MAPS: 10-Day U.S. Forecast Highs/Lows

Forecast Morning Lows

The colder air will also penetrate into the South.

This weekend, lows in the 30s are possible as far south as west-central Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, with widespread first frosts and freezes in the Plains and upper Mississippi Valley. Some lows in the 40s will seep into the lower Mississippi Valley and Tennessee Valley just over a week after the October record heat.

(MORE: When Your First Freeze Typically Arrives

This cold front will be cold enough to generate snow. And it won't simply occur in the higher elevations of the Rockies or adjacent Front Range, as was the case with the record-smashing September snowstorm just over a week ago.

Click here for more details on a major October snowstorm that's well underway.

This will be quite a shock to the system given the recent warm weather. Then again, we're moving deeper into October. We must have some autumn reality check, right?

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.