Hundreds of record cold temperatures are falling in the Eastern United States as an early-season Arctic plunge arrives. We are not expecting record-breaking cold in Atlanta, but that is a bit deceiving. When you look at the record books for Atlanta, which date back to 1878, the coldest low temperatures for November 12-13 all happened more than 50 years ago. Why is that the case? It's hard to point the finger at one culprit, but there are likely a couple of reasons why.
Coldest Temperatures on Record
|November 12||November 13|
|Not below 32° since 1996||28°||2013|
As we know, the climate has been warming for the past 50 years, and it would be easy to say that it just does not get as cold in Atlanta as it did before 1970. While the numbers seem to bear that out, the main reason why may have less to do with the climate as a whole and more to do with concrete. The greater Atlanta area has grown a lot in the past 50 years, and with that comes an increasing "heat island" effect due to all the roads and buildings in the area.
Records are kept at Hartsfield-Jackson - the busiest airport in the world. It's huge, and all the development at and near the airport creates its own little heat island. The concrete helps to hold in warmth absorbed from the sun during the day, and the temperature does not cool as much at night. That's why it's so often colder outside of the city on clear and calm nights. In fact, if you've ever walked around the city on a calm and cool or cold morning near dawn, you'll notice it get colder when you get into a park compared to on a city street.
Tonight's Bitter Cold
We are projecting a low temperature near 25° tonight at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. If it gets that cold, it will not be a record, but will represent the coldest temperature in the first half of November since 1976 - 43 years ago! For the date, it would be the coldest since 1968. For many of us, that is the first time we'll experience something so cold so early in the season.
Putting it in even more perspective, the temperature did not fall to 25° in Atlanta from January 18, 2018 to January 21, 2019 - a span of 367 days. The last time it reached 25° at Hartsfield-Jackson was January 30, 2019.
Bundle up! The good news (I guess) is that it will bounce back into the mid 40s with sunshine and a light breeze on Wednesday afternoon. A chilly mid-winter day - in mid-November.