November 2014 North American cold wave

The November 2014 North American cold wave was an extreme weather event that occurred across most of Canada and the contiguous United States, including parts of the Western United States up to western California. One of the first events of the winter, the cold wave was caused by the northward movement of an extremely powerful bomb cyclone associated with Typhoon Nuri's remnant, which shifted the jet stream far northward, creating an omega block pattern. This allowed a piece of the polar vortex to advance southward into the Central and Eastern United States, bringing record-cold temperatures to much of the region.[6][7][8] In contrast, Alaska experienced above-average temperatures.

November 2014 North American cold wave
Nov. 17 - 2014 North America Temperature Map.gif
A temperature map of the frigid conditions on November 17, 2014.
FormedNovember 8, 2014
DissipatedNovember 23, 2014[1]
Lowest pressure920 hPa (27 inHg)[2]
(2014 Bering Sea cyclone)
FatalitiesAt least 28[3][4][5]
Areas affectedCanada
Contiguous United States
Northern Mexico

This was the worst cold wave that the North American region had experienced since an earlier cold wave in early 2014. The cold wave was expected to last for a few weeks, extending at least until American Thanksgiving.[9] Although the Omega Block broke down on November 20, due to a powerful storm moving into the Gulf of Alaska, frigid conditions continued to persist across much of the United States. There was also concern among some meteorologists that another cold wave or abnormally cold trend might persist throughout the winter of 2014–15, the chances of which were "above average."[10] On November 23, a warming trend primarily in the Eastern United States brought an end to the cold wave;[1] however, below-average temperatures were forecast to return to the Midwest by November 24. Despite the development of a second cold wave, it ended on December 6, when a ridge of high pressure brought above-average temperatures to the region, especially in the Central United States.


The 2014 Bering Sea bomb cyclone at peak intensity on November 8, over the Bering Sea. This system triggered the cold wave across North America.

On November 8, the northward movement of a bomb cyclone associated with Typhoon Nuri's remnants shifted the jet stream far to the north, creating an omega block pattern, which allowed a fragment of the polar vortex to descend from Arctic region into lower Canada and the Eastern United States, affecting up to 200 million people with colder-than-normal temperatures and early snowstorms. Although the Omega block broke down on November 20, a powerful storm brought more frigid temperatures. The wave ended on December 6 when an area of high pressure moved in.[11]

Some meteorologists also predicted that the winter of 2014–15 would be abnormally cold across the Eastern United States (though on October 16 the NOAA predicted warmer than average Winter temperatures in the Northeast[12]), due to early snowfall in Siberia, and a weak but developing El Niño, which are both factors in erratic jet stream behavior that could lead to an abnormally cold winter.[10]

Record temperaturesEdit

United StatesEdit

November 18 was the coldest November morning since 1976 with a national average temperature of 19.4 °F (−7.0 °C) and below-freezing temperatures reported in all 50 states.[13] Some U.S. locations had temperatures 45 °F (25 °C) below normal.[14]

On November 13, Casper, Wyoming had its lowest temperature ever recorded in November, with a record low of −27 °F (−33 °C), and Denver, Colorado had a low of −14 °F (−26 °C), the second-coldest ever recorded for that month.[14] On November 18, Detroit tied a record of 11 °F (−12 °C), first set in 1880.[15] Jacksonville, Florida reached 24 °F (−4 °C) on November 20, 2014, breaking a record set in 1873.[16]

The cold wave brought an end to the navigation season on the upper Mississippi River, the earliest closing since records began in 1969.[17]

Related weatherEdit

United StatesEdit

A severe and persistent lake-effect snow event hit the Great Lakes snowbelt regions, triggered by a winter storm that emerged from Canada, to the north of the Midwest.

On November 10, St. Cloud, Minnesota had the biggest snowfall ever in November with 13.2 inches (34 cm). By the next day, Ishpeming, Michigan had 24.5 inches (62 cm), the most of any location.[18]

In Buffalo, New York, another winter storm triggered a strong lake-effect band, which impacted the city and its immediate southern suburbs from November 17–19, 2014, with a second wave hitting November 20 before shifting southward and weakening.[19] As much as 65 inches fell in Cheektowaga. Snow fell at rates as high as five inches per hour.[20] However, nearby regions of Buffalo only received between one and six inches from the storm.[21] Once the band dissipated, the risk of flooding became a significant concern, as temperatures were forecast to rise sharply and rain was forecast to enter the area beginning November 23, causing the snowpack to melt rapidly.[22]

South Bend, Indiana received 12.3 inches on November 13, breaking its old record for that day of five inches.[23]

Snow depths of greater than 24 inches were reported in numerous location across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.[24] with 42.5 inches reported near Ishpeming between November 10–12.[25] Gaylord and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan had each reported over 50 inches of snow in November.[26] Allendale in west Michigan received 20.4 inches with 17 inches in East Grand Rapids.[27]

On November 23, the formation of a ridge of high pressure across the Southeastern United States forced the polar vortex fragment over the Eastern United States to retreat back to Canada, allowing a warming trend across much of the Midwest and the Eastern United States.[1] However, this same warming trend brought concerns that the resulting snowmelt and incoming rain may cause floods in the region.[1][5]


Canada was also affected by the cold wave, but due to frequent cold waves in the winter, very few records were broken and effects were negligible.[citation needed]



United StatesEdit

Sustained winds of 110 km/h (70 mph) with gusts to 156 km/h (97 mph) were recorded on the island of Shemya.[28] Only minor damage was reported on the island which houses a United States Air Force installation.[29] On November 12, a winter storm in the Great Lakes region killed four people in Minnesota.[3] On November 17, another winter storm caused the deaths of at least 11 people in traffic-related accidents.[4] By November 19, another seven people had died in western New York from the cold temperatures brought by that same winter storm.[30] On November 20, another person died from the cold.[31] On November 22, the death toll from the November 13–21 winter storm increased to 13 fatalities (not including 11 earlier traffic accidents).[5]

Because of weather-related difficulties in the Buffalo area, many sporting events were postponed, canceled, or moved.



Government responseEdit

United StatesEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "Warmer Weather, Rain Prompted Flood Concerns in Snow-Weary Western New York, Michigan". The Weather Channel. November 19, 2014.
  2. ^ "Marine Weather Warning for GMDSS Metarea XI 2014-11-08T06:00:00Z". WIS Portal – GISC Tokyo. Japan Meteorological Agency. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Breslin, Sean (November 18, 2014). "Winter Storm Astro: Four Killed on Icy Roads in Minnesota; Feet of Snow Fall in Wisconsin and Michigan". The Weather Channel, LLC. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Winter Storm Bozeman Impacts: At Least 11 Dead From Weather-Related Traffic Accidents". Archived from the original on November 19, 2014. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Ralph Ellis and Ed Payne, CNN (November 23, 2014). "Be ready for flooding, Cuomo tells the Buffalo area -". CNN.
  6. ^ "Arctic snap will ice Northern states, whipped down by 'bomb cyclone". CNN. November 9, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  7. ^ "Area Forecast Discussion". NOAA. November 13, 2014. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  8. ^ Freedman, Andrew (November 12, 2014). "Unrelenting outbreak of frigid air smashes temperature records in U.S." Mashable. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  9. ^ Erdman, Jon (November 19, 2014). "Record-Breaking November Arctic Cold, Round Two". The Weather Channel, LLC. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
  10. ^ a b "The Weather Channel 2014-2015 Winter Forecast". The Weather Channel. October 22, 2014.
  11. ^ "Polar Vortex to Blast 200 Million People With Arctic Air". November 8, 2014. Archived from the original on November 8, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  12. ^ NOAA. US gov. Retrieved October 3, 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ Samenow, Jason (November 18, 2014). "Analysis: Coldest November morning in U.S. since 1976; all 50 states freeze". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 7, 2016.
  14. ^ a b Fritz, Angela (November 13, 2014). "Arctic blast grips Central U.S. with record cold temperatures". Washington Post. Retrieved November 15, 2014.
  15. ^ Winter bears down: 2 more inches of snow expected, Katrease Stafford and Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press, November 19, 2014
  16. ^ 141 year old cold weather record falls in Jacksonville, WJXT, November 20, 2014
  17. ^ Ice to close upper Mississippi from November 20, earliest on record, Reuters, Michael Hirtzer, November 20, 2014
  18. ^ Rice, Doyle (November 11, 2014). "South and East: Get ready for the icebox". USA Today. Retrieved November 15, 2014.
  19. ^ Aaron, Besecker (November 19, 2014). "Day Two: Killer storm gets a name: 'Knife'". The Buffalo News. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
  20. ^ Root, Jordan (November 19, 2014). "Seven Dead as Snow Buries Upstate New York, Great Lakes".
  21. ^ "Buffalo area braces for more snow". Cable New Network. November 19, 2014. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
  22. ^ Fear Turns to Roofs and Flooding After Deadly Snowstorm in Buffalo, Western New York. NBC News (November 21, 2014). Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  23. ^ UPDATE: South Bend hit with record snowfall of 12.3 inches Thursday, WNDU, Nov 13, 2014
  24. ^ Interactive Snow Information, National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center, November 20, 2014
  25. ^ Michigan’s Upper Peninsula gets 3 1/2 feet of snow, Associated Press, November 12, 2014
  26. ^ Snowfall - Seasonal Totals/Normals, National Weather Service, November 21, 2014
  27. ^ 20.4 Inches Of Snow Hits Parts Of Michigan, More On The Way, CBS Detroit, November 19, 2014
  28. ^ "Local Storm Reports". National Weather Service Office in Anchorage, Alaska. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. November 8, 2014. Archived from the original on November 9, 2014. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  29. ^ Devin Kelly (November 8, 2014). "Weather service: No damage reported in Bering Sea storm". Alaska Dispatch News. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  30. ^ Sanchez, Ray; Hanna, Jason; Fantz, Ashley (November 19, 2014). "Western New York buried by snow; at least 7 dead with more snow likely". Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
  31. ^ Ray Sanchez and Steve Almasy, CNN (November 20, 2014). "10 dead in storm as Buffalo awaits rain -". CNN.