The cold snap was one for the ages.
With wind chills well below minus 30 degrees, weather records were shattered as Akron-Canton residents shivered through the second day of what weather experts called a historic event.
The temperature in the Akron area on Monday took its biggest, one-day drop ever — a 55-degree plummet.
The temperature peaked at 45 degrees at midnight Monday and dropped to 10 degrees below zero by 11:59 p.m.
That set an all-time record drop for one day, according to Kent State University geography professor Scott Sheridan.
John Mayers, a National Weather Service meteorologist who specializes in local climate records, said the previous one-day temperature differential record — called a diurnal spread — in the Akron area occurred Jan. 20, 1926, when the temperature fell 54 degrees in one day.
And that wasn’t the only weather record that was set.
A low of 10 degrees below zero on Monday at Akron-Canton Airport broke the previous record of 9 below zero set in 1924, according to the National Weather Service.
A second record was broken at the airport Tuesday morning when the temperature fell to 11 below zero. The previous record low for Jan. 7 was 5 below in 1942.
This was one storm that lived up to its hype.
While the Akron area was spared the brunt of the snow, the Arctic cold certainly made up for the lack of flakes.
The cold was too much for motorists as vehicle doors simply froze shut or batteries lost their juice.
Schools and most government offices were closed for the second day in a row.
The wait for a tow truck Monday night into Tuesday was as long as two hours, AAA Akron Auto Club Vice President Kevin Thomas said.
“Our call center is flooded, in terms of actual calls into our dispatch system,” Thomas said. “Right now, we are taking in as many as 50 to 60 calls an hour.”
Thomas said a typical winter day would generate about 20 to 30 calls.
The call center in downtown Akron has 12 operators. They ask about the caller’s situation and prioritize the response according to how much danger a motorist faces.
Problems that leave a motorist stranded in a remote area such as a freeway are given priority, and the response on Tuesday was as short as 30 minutes, Thomas said.
AAA has ties to 77 tow trucks, but Thomas said those trucks are vulnerable in bad weather, too. At midday Tuesday, about 50 vehicles were available to help drivers.
Cold weather took its toll on flights at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and had a more limited impact at Akron-Canton Airport.
Tuesday’s cancellations were not because of weather in Northeast Ohio, but in other parts of the country that were experiencing the cold and snow, including Chicago, New York and Detroit.
At Hopkins, more than 200 flights were canceled Tuesday, about the same number as Monday, airport spokeswoman Jackie Mayo said.
Mayo said the airlines canceled the flights before the bad weather hit.
While several airlines had delays and cancellations, most flights canceled at Hopkins were by United since the airport is a hub, Mayo said.
Hopkins was running at about 70 percent of normal capacity Tuesday, mostly to destinations that were not affected by the frigid weather, Mayo said.
At Akron-Canton Airport, airlines were operating at about 90 percent capacity, spokeswoman Kristie Van Auken said.
Van Auken said the delays and cancellations have been small, “which I think is really great, in spite of the weather.”
Most of the flights canceled or delayed were United going to Chicago, she said.
The planes that took off were de-iced and prepared, she said. Planes these days are designed to be cold-weather machines, she said.
“They’re flying up at 50,000 feet — it’s cold up there,” she said. “The airplanes themselves are pretty hardy. Thankfully, our airline operations crews are also hearty. It’s definitely a cold, miserable job.”
Snowy TV reception
Time Warner Cable reported intermittent television cable, phone and Internet outages because of the cold.
Spokesman Mike Hogan said the cable system experienced pocket outages in the Midwest.
“This created a phenomenon called ‘suck out,’ ” Hogan said. “Cold temperatures can cause coax feeder cable to retract and can literally pull out from connectors.”
Hogan said the problem can range from a few customers to a widespread outage.
“These are random occurrences rather than widespread issues,” he said. “We are working on getting services restored.”
Hogan said he did not have details on how many customers were affected.
Some in Northeast Ohio whose homes rattled following a big boom in the night may have experienced a rare “frost quake” thanks to the crazy-cold weather.
The frigid temperatures are believed to have triggered the rare natural phenomena known as cryoseisms that produce ground shaking and noises similar to earthquakes.
But it is difficult to document whether this week’s record cold actually produced any frost quakes, said Thomas Schmidlin, a weather expert, author and geography professor at Kent State University.
“They are real … but it’s almost impossible to say if any have occurred around here,” he said.
Conditions in Northeast Ohio appear to have been suitable for frost quakes to be triggered, he said. Frost quakes are very localized and typically occur between midnight and dawn — the coldest part of the night.
The quakes may not be felt more than a few hundred yards away as they don’t release much energy, but they can cause a loud boom and shakes.
The mini quakes are caused by sudden deep freezing of the ground, especially if the soil is saturated with rain water. The frozen soils then expand and crack.
They typically occur in the first cold snap of the year when the temperature drops from above freezing to below zero, particularly if there is no snow cover to insulate the ground.
There is a good chance that such frost quakes occurred in the last few days in Ohio, said Michael Hansen, coordinator of the Ohio Seismic Network for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
But such quakes are so localized they do not show up on seismic equipment.
There is a good chance that Northeast Ohio experienced such frost quakes, he said.
“It sounds logical … and is a good explanation,” he said of reports from Northeast Ohio residents that they heard a loud boom and their homes shook. “That’s probably what some people are experiencing.”
A major frost quake was reported in southwest Ohio in February 2011. It was reported in Miami and Darke counties in Ohio and Randolph County in Indiana. Ohio also had frost quakes in 2007 near Newark, Hansen said.
Such quakes sometimes occur on the south side of houses where snow or ice thaws in sunlight and then refreezes at night, he said.
People are more likely to hear creaking houses in a deep freeze, Schmidlin said.
Many wood joints are apt to move one-eighth of an inch because of the cold making wood shrink slightly and the result is strange noises at night as the wood contracts, he said.
“Cold can do weird things,” he said.
Beacon Journal staff writers Jim Carney, Bob Downing, Betty Lin-Fisher and David Scott contributed to this report.