Reported wind chills as low as 17 degrees below zero Tuesday morning led to school delays and higher than normal calls for service from motorists.
And although the reading on the thermometer will inch upward starting today, meteorologists expect the deep freeze to continue through this weekend.
The low temperature Tuesday averaged between 3 and 6 degrees with wind chills as low as 16 or 17 degrees below zero in some places.
“It’s the first time in almost two years that we’ve been that cold in most spots,” said StormCenter 7 Meteorologist Rich Wirdzek. The high at the Dayton International Airport on Tuesday afternoon was 14 degrees, making it one one of the 10 coldest afternoons in the last five years.
The arctic blast of cold air was felt across the Midwest and Northeast and lower-than-average temperatures will remain into Sunday, according to AccuWeather.com.
“The air just north of the Great Lakes is colder than that over the North Pole,” said AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity.
The normal high for this time of year is 35 degrees and the normal low is 20 degrees. The record low in Dayton for Jan. 22 was negative 15 in 1936.
Numerous schools were on delays Tuesday morning as it was deemed too cold to have children outside waiting at bus stops.
AAA reported responding to double the number of calls for service than an average day, according to spokeswoman Cindy Antrican. She said the largest number of requests for assistance was for battery failures, followed by flat tires.
Wirdzek said today will be slightly warmer, with highs in the upper teens. The low temperature is once again expected to be about 5 degrees with wind chills at about negative 5 when people head out the door in the morning.
Snow showers will be possible into the evening and winds will persist in the 5 to 10 mph range.
“A very light amount of snow is expected,” Wirdzek said. “But with it as cold as it is, any untreated roads will become slick immediately.”
Chief Meteorologist Jamie Simpson said the timing may be bad for the evening commute with the first slick spots developing around 4 or 5 p.m. this evening.
“When traffic packs down snow before roads crews can treat roads, it typically becomes icy more easily,” he said.
A more significant storm system will impact the area possibly Thursday night into Friday morning, Wirdzek said. That system has the potential for accumulating snowfall, but it is too early to determine how much, he said.
Highs will be in the low to mid-20s Thursday and Friday with a dip back into the teens on Saturday.
Snow on the ground could perpetuate the cold snap by making it harder for the ground to warm up.