Warren County remains in the grip of an arctic blast that has brought single-digit temperatures and made the start of 2014 among the chilliest ever.
The plunge into the deep freeze will be short-lived as forecasters are calling for a return to normalcy with highs climbing back into the 50s later this week. That return, however, may be just a brief respite before another arctic blast in mid-January.
As for the question of how low did it go, the answer would be minus 1. The temperature dipped below zero during the pre-dawn hours Tuesday morning and had only climbed to 11 degrees by 11 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Was it a record low? According to the National Weather Service’s Nashville Bureau, it was close. The coldest temperature ever recorded for Jan. 7 was minus 4 in 1970. The coldest temperature on record here for any day was recorded Jan. 21, 1985 when the mercury dipped to minus 17. As for Tennessee, Mountain City in the far eastern part of the state hit a low of minus 32 on Dec. 30, 1917.
The descent into frigid weather began Sunday night. Temperatures were in the mid-50s during the early evening hours Sunday, only to dip down to 6 degrees by the pre-dawn hours Monday morning. Official records at McMinnville Water Plant reveal the temperature plummeted almost 50 degrees in just 10 hours.
Along with the frigid temperatures came a blast of snow. The precipitation, which began as cold rain, transitioned to sleet before changing over to snow, which began about 8 p.m. Sunday. While the snow was short lived, it still did its damage. Official city records put the snow at 1 inch, while outlying areas in Warren County recorded up to 2 inches.
The arctic cold quickly turned the snow on the roads into a thin sheet of ice. The hazardous conditions, combined with the bitter cold, forced the closure of schools Monday through Wednesday and led to the cancellation of many school and civic events. Many government offices also closed early Monday due to the cold.
The conditions prompted a state of emergency to be declared in the state of Tennessee as residents were advised to stay indoors and travel only out of necessity. The state of emergency was lifted late Monday afternoon.