With a high temperature that would be “normal” on a Dec. 4, Philadelphia tied records Saturday for the coldest May 9 since the government began keeping score in the 1870s — almost as unbelievable as what’s going on in Alaska.

The high reached 49 at 3:31 p.m. at Philadelphia International Airport matching 1977 for the lowest maximum temperature for the date. That’s 23 degrees below “normal,” and coincidentally, the wind-chill at 6 a.m. was 23.

With a low of 35, the daily average, 42, tied the record first set in 1947.

Once again, much of the region is under a freeze warning for Sunday morning, with areas in and around the city flirting with freezing, and the outskirts hitting 32 or below.

Freeze warnings are up for all the deep-blue areas.
National Weather Service
Freeze warnings are up for all the deep-blue areas.

As has been happening since mid-April, air has been pouring out of the Arctic setting up surreal contrasts. (Then again, everything else is surreal these days.)

Fairbanks has an excellent shot at reaching 80 on Sunday, said Jim Brader, a veteran meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Fairbanks.

“That would be something if we hit 80 before you did,” he said Saturday as Fairbanks was approaching its annual “greening up” period, when everything seems to turn green at once.

While it might appear incongruous, to the atmosphere it all makes perfect sense. Arctic high pressure up that way can make Alaska a major exporter of frigid air.

“We’re typically kind of the opposite of you," he said. “It’s like a seesaw. We’re going up, you’re going down. That’s not a technical term.”

Temperatures are due to stay below normal around here at least until later in the week, but Philadelphia does have a shot at reaching 80 on Friday, “although it’s not a slam dunk,” said Jonathan O’Brien, a meteorologist with the weather service in Mount Holly.

The latest date for Philadelphia’s first 80-degree reading is May 20.