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Unusually early, extremely cold weather has blanketed much of the Midwest over the weekend of Nov. 20 through 22, dumping record amounts of snow in the process.
Although winter has not officially begun, from the West in South Dakota and southern Minnesota, to Iowa, Wisconsin and northern Illinois, and even as far south as North Texas, temperatures dropped below freezing (and even below zero in some areas) accompanying record snowfalls. Temperatures plunged behind the front of the winter Storm named Bella, that blew in from the Western U.S. as the National Weather Service forecast 20 degrees or lower across six states from North Dakota to Illinois. Sioux Falls, South Dakota, reached 11 degrees Saturday and the town of Estherville in northern Iowa was even colder at 6 degrees with a wind chill of minus 4, the weather service said. The temperature hit 17 degrees in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the single digits in some areas in Northern Illinois. Brownwood, Texas saw temperatures fall to 23 degrees.
Heavy snow accompanied the cold in many areas. Southeastern South Dakota more than 20 inches of snow on Friday and Saturday.
While Cedar Rapids, Iowa, joined a number of locations receiving record amounts of snow. Snowfalls topped 7.5 inches in Cedar Rapids, braking the record for Nov. 21 of 3.5 inches set in 1893.
“It’s not unusual to get our first snowfall this early, but to have these kinds of totals accumulate is uncommon,” said Chris Havely, a meteorologist with KCRG-TV9.
Southern Wisconsin’s snowfall was also anomalous, with snowfall totals from Friday and Saturday, topping more than 14 inches in Beloit, 17 inches near Footville and 11 inches in Janesville, shattering the snowfall records in Rock County going back to 1908 for the dates of Nov. 20 and Nov. 21. And it breaks the county’s record for the most snowfall in any two-day period in November. The previous record for a two-day snowfall in Beloit was 3 inches in 1996. And the county record for snow on any two-day span in November—13 inches—was set in 1896. Residents in northern Illinois, including Chicago, experienced more than 11 inches of snow — the highest November total in 120 years in the city, resulting in more than 700 flights being cancelled out of Chicago over the weekend.
And the U.S. was not the only spot on the globe experiencing an early cold spell of below average temperatures and above average snowfall. The UK’s Daily Mail reports the British Isles were bracing for one of the coldest November weekends on record with some temperatures expected to fall to -11C and warning bands of sleet, hail, snow, rain would be pushed down from Scotland on winds gusting up to 70 mph at times.