Texas Sees Snow Before New York on Near-Record Cold in South

(Bloomberg) -- Houston reported its earliest snowfall ever, beating places like New York City and Boston as a cold snap descended over Texas.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston set a new record for the first observed snowfall, breaking one set on Nov. 23, 1979, according to a Twitter post from the National Weather Service. Near record-breaking cold has swept into the South, with temperatures in the state 25 degrees Fahrenheit (14 Celsius) or more below average, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

“You can’t find any temperatures in Texas this morning that you could say are warm,” said Bob Oravec, a senior forecaster at the prediction center. “A pretty cold air mass sunk south over the weekend. We have gone right into a winter weather pattern across the central U.S.”

Wholesale day-ahead electricity prices in North Texas surged to the highest level in more than three months for the 7 p.m. hour on Wednesday, as commuters are forecast to crank up the heat once they return home as the mercury drops. Power in Ercot North jumped 84 percent to $79.46 a megawatt-hour, according to Genscape data.

As U.S. residents turned up their thermostats in response to the frigid temperatures, natural gas exports to Mexico fell to a five-month low Monday.

New York, with temperatures just 6 to 8 degrees below normal, probably won’t see its first snow until Thursday, when a mix of snow and sleet will eventually turn into rain. Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia could get a few flakes too.

Freeze watches and warnings cover a large part of Texas, stretching into New Mexico to the west and Louisiana and Mississippi to the east. Temperatures will linger in the high 30s Fahrenheit, potentially reaching 45 degrees (7.2 degrees Celsius) in Austin. Then the plunge comes, with forecasts by the National Weather Services showing temperatures below freezing late Tuesday, potentially reaching records by early Wednesday.

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