Temperatures dipped early Thursday to -35 degrees at Helena Regional Airport, tying the record low for Dec. 22 set in 1990, the National Weather Service said.
Jane Fogleman, an NWS meteorologist out of Great Falls, added that Thursday broke a record for the lowest high temperature, with the day’s warmest temperature topping off at -18 degrees, compared to -16 on the same day in 1983.
Temperatures are expected to start warming up Friday and rise to the 40s on Sunday, which is Christmas Day.
“It’s a massive turnaround, more or less, by Sunday,” NWS meteorologist Patrick Pierce said.
On Wednesday the low temperature in the Helena area was -21 degrees, which was the seventh-coldest Dec. 21 on record. The coldest Dec. 21 reached -32 in 1990, he said.
The arctic air mass blanketed the lower 48 states, causing one of the most treacherous holiday travel seasons the U.S. has seen in decades.
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It caused some havoc in Helena.
Police reported 36 vehicle crashes Wednesday, and most were weather-related, Helena Police Department Sgt. Adam Shanks said, adding the number is usually under 20. He said the number of crashes