Christmas-into-the-New-Year Extreme Cold in Maryland

Christmas-into-the-New-Year Extreme Cold in Maryland

Now that the cold weather had abated, for now, here are a few things that I’ve discovered occurred during this extended period from Christmastime through the first week of January:

  1. It wasn’t the coldest weather that has ever occurred in the state.
  2. It wasn’t the lengthiest cold weather to ever occur here.
  3. Though it wasn’t the coldest period, it kinda was in several ways.
  4. Some cold temperature records were broken but not many.
  5. Though the cold may not have been the coldest, it’s all relative as it was pretty darn cold anyway, especially with the continuous wind much of the time.
  6. Cold, cold, cold! And likely would have been even colder had a deep snow cover been in place across the entire state.

Some interesting stats:

  1. The lowest temperature I could find for the state was at Oakland, Garrett County, which dropped to -17° on Jan. 3rd and 4th (Oakland also holds the state’s cold record with -40° on Jan. 13, 1912 – Brrrrr!). Other recent cold spots reaching ≤0° from official locations: -11° at Sines Deep Creek (Garrett County) on Jan. 8th , -8° at Frostburg (Allegany County) on Jan. 7th, -6° at the Garrett County Airport on Jan. 5th and 7th, -5° at Savage River Dam (Garrett County) on Jan. 8th, -4° at Mechanicsville (St. Mary’s County) on Jan. 6th, -3° at Millers (Carroll County) on Jan. 7th, -2° at both Smithsburg (Washington County) on Jan. 8th and Camp David (Frederick County) on Jan. 7th and 8th, -1° at both Cumberland (Allegany County) and Damascus (Montgomery County) on Jan. 8th, and 0° on Jan. 7th at Gaithersburg Airpark (Montgomery County), St. Mary’s County Airport, and Ft. Meade-Tipton Airport (Anne Arundel County), and on Jan. 8th at Reisterstown (Baltimore County). Additionally, it did reach 1° right at the ocean as an unusually deep snow cover was in place at the Ocean City Airport.
  2. Baltimore Airport (BWI) slipped to 1°, tying for the coldest temperature since Feb. 1996, the last time it actually fell below zero (-1° on the 5th); it was also 1° on Jan. 19, 1997 and Feb. 20, 2015.  In fact, since the official climate record for Baltimore moved from downtown to the airport in Aug. 1950, this nearly 22-year period is now the longest stretch without a calendar year falling to ≤0° dating back to Dec. 1870 when the official historical temperature records began.
  3. It was Baltimore’s 3rd longest streak of consecutive Minimum Temperatures of ≤15° which occurred over 9 days ending Jan. 8th (tying several years – 2015, 1899, and 1893) but bested by the 15 days (ending Feb. 3, 1961) and 13 days (ending Jan. 17, 1912).
  4. The 2 consecutive days where the Baltimore Airport had Maximum Temperatures remain below 20° (19° on the 5th, 18° on the 6th) ranks at #7 overall. The record is 6 days (ending Jan. 3, 1918), with 5 days occurring in 1899 and 1895, 4 days in 1886, and 3 days in both 1893 and 1880. Note that these higher-ranked dates are all more than 100 years ago.
  5. Baltimore DID record it’s coldest period when focusing on the first 7 days of the year: The Average Maximum Temperature was only 23.1°, just beating out the now #2 from 1918 of 23.4°; the Average Minimum Temperature was a bitter 7.3°, crushing the 11.3° from 1877; the Mean Temperature of 15.2° blew away the competition of 18.4° from 1918.

So, though no extreme records were set with this recent Arctic blast, it certainly competes with previous cold spells, especially when seeing that most of the existing historical records date back to the 1800’s and early 1900’s.


Here is a 7-minute clip from YouTube with a drone showing ice on the Chesapeake Bay just south of the Bay Bridge, published 1/8/2018 by Goose Guy:






Cover photo courtesy of NASA:

2 thoughts on “Christmas-into-the-New-Year Extreme Cold in Maryland

  1. Great article Jeff. Noticed that no mention was made of the incredibly cold month of January 1977. As far as I know, that was the month where the greatest Chesapeake Bay ice extent was experienced, and was written up by Joe Moyer who was the MD State Climatologist at the time, for the Mariners Weather Log. I remembered from my old stats that I had very few days that month of above 32 maximum temps. No day was really extremely cold, it was just persistent below normal, below 32 cold on most days during the month. I sent your link around to others in the area, and many really enjoyed your article – Dave Lesher, John Oravec, and others. Thanks for your great efforts on this very interesting piece.

    1. Thanks Kevin. The whole blog entry was a quick one that I did during my lunch hour. The ice extent was a last-second inclusion when I found a few things online – unfortunately, not actually being there limited my knowledge on what was actually happening. Yes, Jan. 1977 was a great month, as I remember it well (Frostburg stayed below freezing 30 of the 31 days!). If I get time, I might add some things to that post. I just wanted to add some thoughts quickly before it got too warm 🙂 I have a lot of weather trivia on my computer at home so can access that if I get time.

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