Day of extremes in U.S. weather
Winter wear was beachwear as cold temperatures invaded Miami Beach.
January 4th, 2012
12:23 PM ET

Day of extremes in U.S. weather

Mark down January 4 as one strange day for weather in the United States. The extremes were topsy-turvy.

While Floridians were experiencing record low temperatures, Montanans were seeing record highs that are normal for April or October.

Forecast highs in the upper 50s in Montana were expected to break records in Lewistown, Great Falls, Harve and a handful of other places, according to the National Weather Service.

Similar highs were forecast Wednesday for large portions of Florida.

Overnight, record lows were set in Alma  at 19 degrees (breaking record of 20 set in 2001) and Gainesville, 20 degrees (breaking record of 22 set in 1900). Record lows were tied in Jacksonville, 22 degrees (set in 1887), Tallahassee, 18 degrees (set in 1928), and Appalachicola, 26 degrees (set in 2010).

In Homestead in South Florida, farmers scrambled to protect crops from the damaging cold overnight, CNN affiliate WSVN-TV reported. On Wednesday, they were assessing any possible damage.

"It's not as bad as it could've been. There's still some damage - the extent we don't know yet. With freezes, it's a little difficult. It might take a day or two to really see the effects of it," Miami-Dade Agricultural Manager Charles Lapradd told the station.

In Louisiana, a flood warning was in effect for St. Mary Parish. “Do not drive cars through flooded areas. Remember … two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including pickups. Turn around and don’t drown,” the weather service said.

Wednesday's extremes extend beyond the contiguous 48 states, too.

Forecasters in Hawaii issued a high surf warning, with wave heights on north-facing shores of the islands expected to hit 25 to 35 feet through Thursday morning. West-facing shores could see wave heights of 15 to 25 feet, forecasters said.

Meanwhile in southern Alaska, the weather service warned of dangerous winds with sustained speeds of 35 to 55 mph and gusts up to 85 mph, the strength seen in a Category 1 hurricane.

One thing that's not unexpected is frigid temperatures in Alaska in January, and Bethel, Alaska, near the state's west coast was fulfilling expectations on Wednesday, with a forecast high of 15 below to 20 below zero and wind chills as low as 50 below zero, the weather service said.

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Filed under: Alaska • Florida • Hawaii • Montana • U.S. • Weather • Winter weather
soundoff (270 Responses)
  1. Canopy

    Two words. Carbon Monoxide

    January 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken from FL

      I think you mean carbon dioxide, and I assume you're talking about global warming. So, thank you, you did not disappoint. I knew some loon would connect these temperatures with "global warming."

      January 4, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Davethecanuck

      Lmao... Perhaps. I am feeling a bit sleepier than usual at work today.

      January 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ang


      January 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • jtt

      And actually ken you need to look into the arctic dipole anomaly as this IS consistent with climate change. Also as much of Canada is having a much warmer winter than normal so is the east coast and florida too. A cold snap of one day does not dictate a season or climate. Denial loon.

      January 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Been There Done That

      The proclamations made on global warming are based on about 300 years of weather records. There is no way that anyone can know if there is an actual trend until looking at the big picture (over hundreds of thousands of years). Global warming is probably a misnomer for a natural cycle. Mars' atmosphere is made of almost entirely of CO2 yet NASA suggests that in order to raise temperature "green house gasses" would have to be released, but if CO2 is the leading GHG, then what does that say about CO2? All I'm saying is global warming conclusions are premature. Is smog bad for the environment? Probably, but whether or not CO2 really has anything to do with global warming is not fully understood.

      January 4, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • jtt

      "The proclamations made on global warming are based on about 300 years of weather records. There is no way that anyone can know"

      Really? – glaciers – biological markers – sediments – species adaption – jump immediately to mind – im sure there are many more. As to trends they are probably more accurate indicators than someone holding a thermometer out there and taking temps from time to time.

      January 4, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. FartherNorth

    Bethel, please. Minus 35 today in Fairbanks with no wind.

    January 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • fritz

      Now that's freakin' cold! Any word on the relative humidity there in Fairbanks?

      January 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Fritz – -35 is too cold to have any humidity to speak of. When it drops below roughly -20, there's so little humidity that it can't snow.

      January 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • FartherNorth

      according to the weatherman, 77% humidity today. And yes, it snows at 40 below.

      January 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alaskaguy225

      Thats the the point with out wind in bethel its -32 with a 12 MPH wind making it -60 windchill

      January 4, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alaskaguy225

      oh and BTW Bethel is colder than Fairbanks right now

      January 4, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chris

    I'm In Park City, Ut and there hasn't been any snow....I was contracted to come here all the from Hilton Head Island,Sc where its colder than usual there... I AGREE WITH ALEX GLOBAL WARMING.....BE AWARE OF WHAT YOU'RE DOING TO YOUR PLANET,.....BP.....EXON....YOUR BILLION DOLLAR QUATERS WON'T GET YOU OUT OF THIS ONE.!!!

    January 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Dude

      So was BP and Exxon responsible for the record lows temps in FL back in the 1920's, 1880's and 1900?

      January 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • LaLa

      Here in Northern California, we just had our first "snow survey" done – where Water Resources goes to various Sierra sites to measure snowfall & its moisture content. Came back at 19% of normal. Very bad. And it's stupid warm, with no precip in sight.

      January 4, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. patty

    12/21/2012 planet pole shifts....south pole becomes north pole and visa versa. Today is 20 deg warmer in Northern CANADA than it is in Southern FLORIDA. I rest my case.

    January 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Despite the cold weather Canada is the best country. We deal with cold but get free healthcare. Which in my opinion is much better :O)

      January 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      The poles flipping is talking about the magnetic fields, the poles did not literaly flip. sigh

      January 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      The poles changing takes thousands of years. It's not an instantaneous thing.

      And even then, the way you're describing would have to take all the land on Earth, then flip it around so that Florida is where Canada is now. Pretty much you're not correct.

      January 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Biddy

      Thanks John, that was really on topic!

      January 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • jtt

      What – are you talking about magnetic polls? Thats has nothing to do with weather or climate.

      January 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hangtownie

    Here in Northern Cali we haven't had a drop of rain all December. However the earth has been warming long before gasoline and Climate change were invented. This planet has had ice ages as well as warming cycles long before man had billions of people here. With that said, it still dosen't mean that we as a people shouldn't find ways to polute less and use less resources.

    January 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©


    You're welcome.
    I bought an organic banana today in yours!

    January 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chriseskimo

    You know its cold out when your car's tires have frozen flat spots from sitting over night and the vinyl seats shatter upon butt impact!

    January 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. The all potent one

    It is impossible to know man's effect on earth because there is no control experiment where there is no man made pollutants. Temps change, climates change without man. Humans likely have an effect but it is not possible to determine the amount.

    January 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Brad

    Funny how the man made global warming nuts are out, but not a single mention of the record colds from them mentioned in the article, records colds that beat out records from BEFORE man made global warming......

    January 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Dude

      Yea they IN-conviently forgot to mention that.

      January 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • snake

      thedude, hey, it say record breaking cold in florida. can't you read cowboy?

      January 4, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TownC

    Global warming? Not sure but there is no denying our weather has been wacky for a while. Random or some sinister cause...who knows!

    January 4, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Chriseskimo

    @Hangtownie, Some very smart scientists believe we are accelerating the cycles and amplifying them. If this is true, we may see extremes beyond anything humans have experienced so far. Hopefully, not before we find a way to get to and colonize other planets...

    January 4, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dishya

    Anyone else thinking Global warming or am i the only one?

    January 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • teresa, ohio

      @dishya: yep. of course, it's global warming or whatever words anyone chooses to use. The odd weather has to be happening for some reason. I've been in Ohio for 50 winters. Last winter was so horribly snowy, I started getting depressed in the summer : ) This year is the first one I remember where we didnt have a noticeable ( shoveling amount) amount of snow til January. I loved it. Global warming, climate changes, the words dont really matter: just step outside and notice the odd weather patterns.

      January 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jtt

    No its not a "normal winter" and heat records are out pacing cold ones by 80 percent. and yes climate change is even more real and worse.

    January 4, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. snake

    HAARP causeing movement of jetstream.

    January 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Orchal

    It's Havre, not 'Harve', Mr. CNN guy.
    *puts red marker away*

    January 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
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