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Near-Record Cold Hits Omaha

A look back at the polar vortex's visit to Nebraska and Iowa.
Posted at 9:08 PM, Jan 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-30 22:08:51-05

The polar vortex of late January 2019 brought record-breaking cold to many parts of the Midwest... and we felt the impacts across Nebraska and Iowa too! You've probably heard the term, "polar vortex" but if you'd like to know what it really is, check out Meteorologist Audra Moore's story HERE!

Temperatures started to rapidly tumble on Monday, January 28. Just after midnight, Omaha was in the mid 30s, but once the arctic cold front moved through, we fell into the teens in just about 3 hours. Strong winds helped to move the cold air in, making it feel even colder. Winds gusted over 50 mph in Omaha, and even over 60 mph in some cities around northeast Nebraska.

Cold air then continued to push in through the middle of the week, with the worst of it settling in during the early hours of Wednesday, January 30th. With the dangerous wind chills in the forecast, many schools, including Omaha canceled classes the night before.

Omaha ended up dropping to -14 degrees at Eppley Airfield Wednesday morning, but with strong winds blowing through, wind chills dropped to -37. Iowa was hit with even lower temperatures, with multiple cities in the western part of the state dropping to -20 or lower... and that's before factoring in the wind. Wednesday afternoon eventually brought a high of 0 in Omaha.

Omaha's low temperature of -14 came close to setting a new record for the date, but fell just short. In 1965, Omaha fell to -16 degrees, which still holds it place as the coldest January 30th on record for the city.

While I'm usually a big fan of setting new records, I wasn't too upset with missing out here.

While that is the coldest January 30th on record in Omaha, we have been even colder. The coldest temperature on recorded in Omaha was a long time ago... before any of us were likely born. The city fell to -32 degrees on January 5, 1884. I vote for that record to not be broken any time soon!!!

More recently, we topped this cold snap early last year. As we celebrated the start of 2018, we bottomed out at -20 at Eppley on January 1. The high that day was just 0. The next day wasn't much better, with a low of -16.