FIRST ALERT: Remembering the coldest day ever - January 21, 1985

Updated: Jan. 21, 2020 at 4:39 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The coldest temperatures ever observed in the Carolinas occurred on this date in 1985 during what is known as “The Coldest Day.”

One of the most intense arctic outbreaks of the 20th century settled into the Carolinas between January 18th and 22nd, 1985. Bitter cold temperatures impacted nearly every state east of the Rockies.

According to newspaper reports, at least 165 fatalities were attributed to the frigid weather across the United States. The inauguration parade for President Reagan’s second term in office was canceled as wind chills in Washington DC were as cold as -25°. The bitter cold even hit Florida. Florida’s Secretary of Agriculture termed this the “freeze of the century” with the state’s citrus industry suffering $2.5 billion in losses.


In the Carolinas, nearly every city and town set records for the all-time coldest temperatures ever reported. Locally, the thermometer dropped to 6° in Myrtle Beach and Charleston and 0° in Florence. Many areas across the Carolinas dropped below zero. Locally, the subzero temperatures included -5° in Bennettsville, -4° in Darlington and -1° in Dillon.

The coldest temperatures ever recorded in both North and South Carolina were also set in the great Arctic outbreak. Those new records included a staggering -34° at Mt. Mitchell, North Carolina, and -19° at Caesar’s Head, South Carolina.

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