Local temps drop below 0; warmer weather is on the way
Only one phrase can accurately describe Tuesday: Brrrrrrrrrrrrr!
Across Northumberland County, the polar vortex caused school cancelations and below-zero temperatures that ranged between minus 7 in Milton and Mount Carmel and minus 5 in Sunbury, said National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Steinbugl.
However, with the wind chill, he said it felt like it was between 20 and 30 below zero, and residents never saw a temperature in the county reach double digits Tuesday.
Even at 10 a.m., it was still minus 3 in Shamokin, according to the Weather Channel's weather.com, and minus 4 in Mount Carmel. Typical mountaintop cold spots Aristes and Wilburton were each at minus 5 at that time.
It wasn't until about 11 a.m. that it reached 0 degrees in Shamokin, while Aristes and Wilburton remained at minus 3 at that time. By 3:30 p.m., it was a balmy 6 in Shamokin and "plus" 2 in Wilburton and Aristes.
While Northumberland County does not have any official records, Steinbugl said the records in Williamsport and Harrisburg were broken.
"This air mass is the coldest we've seen in two decades. If it's not record, it's near record for early January," he said.
In Williamsport, temperatures dropped to minus 5, beating the previous record of minus 2; in Harrisburg, temperatures dropped to zero, beating the record of 5 degrees.
Temperatures Tuesday night were expected to be slightly warmer, bottoming out at zero degrees, while today's temperatures should reach 20 degrees, Steinbugl said.
"The worst of the cold is over. Later in the week, we're expecting more of a warming trend," he said.
By Saturday, temperatures should be around 50 degrees, providing a "pretty mild weekend," Steinbugl said.
The Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital did not report any weather-related injuries as of 5 p.m., said Geisinger spokesman Mike Ferlazzo.
The News-Item asked its Facebook readers to post what the coldest temperatures they had seen Tuesday morning. Among the responses were these:
"Minus 5 in Coal Township."
"-6 but felt like -22 here in Mount Carmel."
"-8 real temp in Tharptown."
"-2 real feel is -25 in Coal Township.
"At 6:46 this morning, it hit -8.1 here in Numidia."
Someone checked in from Spring Hill, Fla., to say it was 30 degrees. That prompted the response, "don't rub it in." However, 30 degrees is rather cold for that part country, where the average low in January is 45 degrees, according to weather.com.
(Editor Andy Heintzelman contributed to this report.)