Snow fell in Central Park early Saturday morning, tying a record for May snowfall set in 1977, according to the National Weather Service. "In New York City at Central Park this morning, it was- it tied for the latest snowfall we've ever seen," said CBS News meteorologist Jeff Berardelli on "CBS This Morning: Saturday."
In upstate New York, a significant amount of snow left the region looking like a winter wonderland – in the middle of spring. According to Berardelli, the disorienting May weather is due to the, which normally only touches down in the winter.
The polar vortex is a massive whirlwind of frigid air that typically circulates around the Arctic Circle. It tends to sink down into the U.S. a few times each winter. But this past winter it did not – and instead the vortex was unusually strong and stationary, keeping cold air locked far north.
"It is very strange because typically the polar vortex may visit a few times during the wintertime. It almost never comes down here in May," Berardelli said. "As a result, we have dozens and dozens of records being shattered in the eastern part of the country."
The strange weather will extend throughout Mother's Day weekend, according to Berardelli, as freeze watches are in place from the Midwest to the Northeast. More records could be shattered early in the week, as temperatures are expected to plummet again early Tuesday morning.
"This cold front is forecast to reinforce the abnormally cold air-mass in the eastern U.S. to kick-off the upcoming week," according to the National Weather Service.
"Well below average temperatures with widespread record lows are likely across the Eastern, Central and Southern U.S." over the weekend, reads the NWS website. "Freeze watches and warnings along with frost advisories are in effect," across the eastern two-thirds of the U.S., it said.
Out west, the weather is once again warming up. According to Berardelli, a big ridge of high pressure has brought very warm temperatures to California, and all the way up to Alaska. Temperatures in Anchorage Alaska are 47 degrees on Saturday, while California's valleys are going to max out in the 70s, 80s, even 90s to near 100.
Meanwhile, the Midwest's Ohio valley and the Northeast are experiencing temperature dips into the 20s and 30s — with windchills even colder than that.
"For Mother's Day the best place is going to be the West Coast," Berardelli said.