1994 North American cold wave

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1994 North American cold wave
Type Cold wave and snowfall
Formed January 1994
Dissipated January 1994
Fatalities 130[1]
Areas affected Canada, United States

The 1994 North American cold wave occurred in the northern United States and southern Canada on January 18, 1994.

During the same period, the western United States experienced one of its most damaging earthquakes ever, and the eastern United States experienced a major snowfall that significantly delayed traffic.[2]

Over 100 deaths occurred in the United States as a result of the weather.[1]


Temperatures in Chicago, Illinois reached −21 °F (−29 °C)[2] with windchill of −55 °F (−48 °C),[3] the coldest day of the 1990s in Chicago by far.[4] Almost all primary and secondary schools in Chicago were closed that day. Richard Daley, mayor of Chicago advised residents not to go outside if they do not have to. Nearly all schools in the area were closed and four people in Cook County, Illinois died from hypothermia. Hundreds of drivers per hour complained to the AAA-Chicago Motor Club about dead automobile batteries, fuel injectors being too cold and other vehicle issues and United Airlines cancelled almost half of its flights. Tens of thousands of individuals complained about a lack of power due to severed electricity lines while water companies shut off water to homes as a result of pipe explosions.[3] Thousands of apartment renters complained to Cook County about insufficient heat.

Temperature records[edit]

Washington National Airport, later renamed to Reagan National Airport, had a new record low max temperature for the 20th century of 8 °F (−13 °C).[5][6]

On January 19, the temperature in New Whiteland, Indiana dropped to −36 °F (−38 °C), the record lowest temperature in Indiana.[7]

The minimum record temperature in Kentucky was −37 °F (−38 °C) in Shelbyville on January 19, 1994.[8]

The lowest temperature seen in Sussex County, New Jersey was −26 °F (−32 °C) on January 21, 1994.[9]:p.3

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania saw its record low temperature of −22 °F (−30 °C) on January 19, 1994.[10]

On January 6–7, 1994, Lake County, Minnesota set records for the largest snow in one day as well as the most snow in one storm.[11]


  1. ^ a b By MATTHEW L. WALDPublished: January 21, 1994 (1994-01-21). "Cold Wave Hits Bottom; A Slow Climb Out Begins - New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  2. ^ a b "Chicagoans Endure New Record Cold - Chicago Tribune". Articles.chicagotribune.com. 1994-01-18. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  3. ^ a b "Cold, Colder And Maybe The Coldest - Chicago Tribune". Articles.chicagotribune.com. 1994-01-18. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  4. ^ "Coldest Days Ever In Chicago « CBS Chicago". Chicago.cbslocal.com. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  5. ^ October 16, 2013 (2013-01-19). "Recalling the January 1994 Arctic Outbreak - The Frederick News-Post : Free State Weather". The Frederick News-Post. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  6. ^ NOAA National Climate Data Center. "Daily Summaries Station Details: WASHINGTON REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT, VA US". Retrieved 2013-11-04. 
  7. ^ "Indiana State Climate Office". Climate.agry.purdue.edu. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  8. ^ "Winter Climatology". Crh.noaa.gov. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  9. ^ U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service. Soil Survey of Sussex County, New Jersey (Washington, DC: 2009).
  10. ^ "Brrrr! Remembering Pittsburgh's coldest day | Weather - WTAE Home". Wtae.com. 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  11. ^ "Minnesota Snowfall and Snow Depth Extremes". National Climatic Data Center. December 3, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-01.