Sunday, January 3, 2010

Arctic cold a sure bet, but how much snow?

Potentially dangerously cold conditions will occur throughout the upcoming week as Arctic high pressure controls the weather for the first half of the week. A low pressure system will then be the weather-maker everyone is watching for the latter portion of the week, followed by yet another strong Arctic high pressure system for next weekend that could bring even colder air to the Mid-South.

Starting with early week cold - after a high of 34 today, the Mid-South will remain below freezing until perhaps Wednesday (my forecast high for the city on Tuesday is 33; suburbs will probably stay at or below freezing). Overnight lows will be in the teens for most areas the next 3 nights with wind chill values in the single digits Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Daytime wind chills will only rise into the 20s.

By mid-week, the first winter storm of 2010 for the southern U.S. will be coming together over the southern Rockies with another Arctic high pressure system right on it's tail dropping south out of Canada. With cold air in place and Gulf moisture streaming north ahead of the low, snow chances increase late Wednesday night and last through Thursday. With very cold air behind the system, flurries could continue into Friday as highs remain in the 20s (at best - one computer model keeps us in the teens). As to snow amounts, this is probably the hardest part of the forecast this many days out and will likely change (perhaps daily) until it occurs. My best guess for the metro area right now is up to a couple of inches of accumulation. Again, highly subject to change (up or down)... stay tuned.

Trailing the low, bitterly cold polar air will entrench itself over the region. Single digit lows in outlying areas will be entirely possible Saturday morning, with wind chills below zero Friday and Saturday mornings. Long-range models don't show us breaking out of the very cold air until at least early next week.

The next 10 days or so could be the coldest air the Mid-South has experienced in many years. Wind chills could easily approach and drop below zero late in the week, but it will still be bitter to start the week as well. Take all necessary precautions against the cold. Cover outdoor faucets, let indoor faucets (especially those on exterior walls) drip overnight, bring outdoor pets inside during prolonged cold conditions or excessively low wind chills, check on the elderly, and watch where you place portable space heaters. Cold weather doesn't need to be tragic. will have full coverage of the cold weather and potential winter storm on this blog, the MWN forecast, Facebook, and Twitter.

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