This Week in Pittsburgh History: The City Records Its Coldest Day Ever

The record-setting day occurred during a frigid cold snap when the low temperature was below zero for four straight days.
Fisheye View Of Skyline Ice On The Allegheny River Pittsburgh Winter


On Jan. 19, 1994, Pittsburgh recorded its coldest temperature ever. Early that morning, the mercury dropped to minus 22 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Later, when the sun came up, it warmed all the way to minus 3 degrees, matching the record for the coldest high temperature in Pittsburgh.

That high temperature of minus 3 only happened two other times — once in 1982, and before that, in 1899.

It was so cold that then-Gov. Robert Casey declared a state emergency and urged workers to go home early. The demand for electricity was so high that in some parts of the state, utilities engaged in “rolling blackouts” to prevent the entire grid from shutting down.

That bitter day occurred during a major cold snap that year when, for four days in a row, the low temperature dropped below zero. During the peak of the 1994 cold snap, temperatures stayed below zero for 52 straight hours. That is the longest time period on record with temperatures below zero.

Temperatures that cold are rare in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh only sees a maximum temperature below zero about once every 10 years, and temperatures drop to minus 10 degrees or below about once every five years.

Learn more about the city’s past at The Odd, Mysterious & Fascinating History of Pittsburgh Facebook page.

Categories: This Week in Pgh History