Wichita broke or tied two temperature records overnight as fresh snow cover, clear skies and little to no wind combined to plunge temperatures to their lowest readings in more than 20 years.
Oklahoma may well have set an all-time state record overnight, with Bartlesville recording a temperature of -27, said Scott Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita.
“We’re still checking to see if that’s the all-time record,” Smith said.
The temperature fell to -17 in Wichita at 6:21 a.m., obliterating the previous record for Feb. 10 of -5 set in 1980.
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“We blew it out of the water,” Smith said.
The reading just before midnight of -9 tied the record low for Feb. 9 set in 1899. Forecasts had called for lows to slip a few degrees below zero, Smith said, but high pressure set in over the region, clearing skies and calming winds.
“Temperatures just bottomed out,” Smith said.
The -17 is the fourth-coldest temperature ever recorded in Wichita, tying Feb. 11, 1899 and topped only by -22 on Feb. 12, 1899; -21 on Feb. 6, 1982; and -18 on Feb. 13, 1905.
Records fell around the state overnight. Salina’s -15 shattered the previous mark of -11 set in 1905. Russell dropped to -10, topping the -7 of 1981. Chanute’s -15 more than doubled the previous record of -7 set in 1980.
“We weren’t expecting to go to this low,” Smith said.
Plumbers may be busy today dealing with frozen pipes throughout Kansas and Oklahoma, but forecasters say the unexpectedly low temperatures shouldn’t forestall an expected warming trend. Highs should still reach the upper 20s later today in southern Kansas, Smith said.