A wintry weather pattern that brought single-digit temperatures and more than a foot of snow to parts of the Upper Midwest rolled across a wide swath of the nation Monday, threatening to break hundreds of records and bring a deep freeze as far south as Florida.
"The coldest surge of arctic air so far this season will bring widespread record low temperatures for much of the central and eastern U.S. even down to the Gulf Coast," said Kwan-Yin Kong, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center.
More than 300 daily records could fall through Thursday, the weather service said. Houston's record low for Tuesday, 29 degrees, was set 113 years ago. The forecast for Tuesday called for 27 degrees. Nashville's record of 18 degrees for Tuesday, set in 1911, was imperiled by a forecast of 16 degrees.
AccuWeather meteorologist Tyler Roys said many forecasts call for breaking records by just a degree or two, so it was not clear how many would actually fall.
"The total will be closer to hundreds of records than a handful," Roys told USA TODAY. "In some places we will smash them, in others we will tie them, in other places we might just fall short. But it will be cold."
The cold will dip deep into the South. A freeze watch was in effect for Pensacola, Florida, where temperatures were forecast to dip below freezing Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Crestview, north of Fort Walton Beach, could see 26 degrees, Roys said. It was 77 on Monday.
Low temperatures in parts of Alabama might barely make it to the teens.
"It's going to be cold and breezy through the rest of Tuesday. Make sure you're ready for the ~30 degree temperature drop!" the weather service in Birmingham tweeted. "Nighttime lows will be in the low-mid 20s with some pockets of upper 10s."
In Oklahoma, freezing temperatures and freezing rain normally reserved for the middle of winter made their debut more than two weeks before Thanksgiving. Tulsa's 101st Veterans Day Parade was an adventure. Thousands lined the streets despite temperatures in the 20s and strong winds. Freezing rain greeted early arrivals.
"Veterans Day Parade 2019 is in the books," spectator Brandon Thompson tweeted. "We’re slowly thawing out."
Parts of Texas could drop to 16 degrees. Cities in Texas and Louisiana were predicted to reach highs in the mid-40s, breaking long-standing records.
The high Tuesday in Dallas is forecast for 44 degrees – 24 degrees below average for the date. By Tuesday night, Dallas is forecast for a low of 22 degrees. The record low for the date is 21 degrees.
Monday's high in Brownsville, Texas, was forecast for 86 degrees – more than double Tuesday's forecast high of 42 degrees.
By Wednesday, the coldest temperatures will drift east. Cities from Boston to Washington will challenge record lows for the date.
Snow will add to the wintry feel across the interior Northeast on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"We expect a swath of higher snowfall totals from central New York to northern Maine, where accumulations could climb into the double digits," AccuWeather meteorologist Courtney Travis said.
The Upper Midwest was in the thick of it Monday. Parts of Michigan were overwhelmed with more than a foot of snow Monday. Areas of Michigan and Indiana could see 2 feet or more before the snow ends, AccuWeather said.
It snowed Monday in Chicago; temperatures were in the 20s, and wind gusts hit 30 mph. The city opened a warming center.
"Chicagoans are advised to take precautions due to low temperatures and winter weather, whether you're on the road or going for a walk," Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Veterans Day weather: Snow, record-breaking cold sweep nation