DENVER -- A powerful arctic front wreaking havoc along its journey across much of the nation certainly does not announce its arrival in any subtle fashion, sending temperatures plummeting at record speeds across the Midwest.
As the polar air spills south out of Canada and through America's heartland, temperatures are taking radical tumbles where conditions whiplash from near, or even comfortably above freezing -- to flirting with negative temperatures just minutes later.
Dillon, Montana, saw the temperature drop from 27 degrees at 4:22 a.m. Wednesday…. to just 1 degree at 4:25 a.m., just three minutes later! After another two hours, the temperature dropped to negative 12.
A similar fate awaited Casper, Wyoming, where the temperature dropped from 27 to 8 in eight minutes and to minus 6 an hour later.
Cheyenne, Wyoming, took an even larger tumble, dropping from 43 degrees to 3 degrees in 30 minutes -- their largest half-hour drop on record. Two hours later, it was minus 12 and still cooling but already a 55-degree drop between lunchtime and mid-afternoon snack.
Later Wednesday afternoon, it was Denver's turn, with a drop from 42 to 18 in 7 minutes, cooling to just 5 degrees an hour later with a wind chill of -23. The 37-degree temperature drop in an hour also appears to have set a record.
By late evening the temperature in Denver dipped to minus 1, a stunning 51-degree temperature drop from the lunchtime temperature of 50 degrees. By Thursday morning it was minus 14.
Similar stories to be told for millions
Sudden and radical temperature drops are a fate that awaits millions more as the front pushes south and east over the next few days. Chicago was bracing for a sudden drop Thursday evening from near freezing to nearly 10 degrees below zero. Milwaukee is heading for -4 shortly after "basking" in 31-degree weather hours before.
Even the Southeast won't be spared late Thursday night into Friday morning with a drop of 58 to 12 in Atlanta, and Nashville dips from a winterly-comfortable 48 degrees to a frozen 3 degrees.
Florida? The arctic air is coming for you too this weekend, with highs in Orlando in the low 60s Friday and about to switch to morning lows near freezing Saturday and Sunday.
Flash Freeze possible in the East
While the front brings a punch of snow to the Great Lakes as the storm develops, it'll remain rain along the I-95 corridor as precipitation falls.
With a sudden drop below freezing, any lingering water on roadways may quickly freeze, catching Friday evening commuters or holiday travelers off guard.
For those tired of winter, there is sunlight at the end of the tunnel. The entire nation will get a break from the winter chill late next week and as we ring in 2023 with the entire Lower 48 expecting above-average temperatures.