Snow and extreme cold thanks to the Polar Vortex will dominate the headlines across a large portion of the country this week. There is even the risk for some snow across parts of the South. We’ll discuss these stories and more in this week’s 5 Things to Watch.

Polar Vortex:

A lobe of the Polar Vortex will dive southward into the Northern Tier of the US this week, a feature that doesn’t happen quite often. Due to lots of wiggles in the jet stream and a conducive upper-level set up, we will see a portion of the Polar Vortex actually impact the US. High temperatures will break records for being their coldest (especially Wednesday) when most of the Midwest won’t even surpass the zero degree mark. There will also be a widespread area in the Upper Midwest that deals with highs in the -20s and -10s, with lows possibly as cold as -45 degrees. The Northeast will also deal with the effects of the Polar Vortex, albeit not as severe. The coldest of temperatures will occur on Thursday as highs struggle to get out of the single digits or teens. This cold will retreat by the upcoming weekend, but temperatures will still remain below average and below freezing for many across the Northern Tier.

Early-Week Clipper:

A clipper system will track across the Northern Tier early-week, bringing a quick swath of light to moderate snow from the northern Plains through the Midwest. This clipper will also be responsible for ushering in a dangerously cold air mass midweek. On Monday, snow showers will linger across the northern Plains while the Midwest endures the brunt of the snow. Several inches of snow is forecast to fall across numerous cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Green Bay. It will then bring snow to the Northeast Tuesday into Wednesday, with even coastal areas experiencing it. The best chance for accumulating snow will be inland, but the risk for snow in the I-95 corridor begins Tuesday afternoon. Stay tuned for additional details on this weather system.

Southern Snow?

The same storm system that will bring snow to the northern half of the country early- to mid- week may even bring a round of light snow to parts of the South. Based on the latest model data, there is the chance for a few hours of snow Monday night from the southern Appalachian Mountains through northern Alabama and into southern Mississippi. Even southeastern parts of Louisiana (north of New Orleans) may briefly experience snow. Up to 3 inches of snowfall will be possible. By sunrise Tuesday morning, the snow should begin to diminish as a round of rain moves across the Southeast. Depending on how strong the cold air is, there is the chance for snow Tuesday morning in parts of Alabama and Georgia. This has caused the National Weather Service to issue Winter Storm Watches. This means that impactful, wintry weather will be possible. Keep in mind this forecast remains uncertain.

Credit: NWS/NOAA

Drier Florida:

The Sunshine State was not so sunny this past weekend with widespread rainfall affecting the state, making for dreary and cool weather during what is known as the dry season. A large chunk of South Florida is in a Moderate to Severe Drought, however, so this rain was definitely welcome. Now as a cold front pushes through on Monday, ending the rain by midday across the state, that will make for another dry stretch of weather with little to no rainfall expected this entire week. The Florida Panhandle is still expected to deal with rain at times, however.

ECMWF forecast rainfall Monday through next Monday

West Coast Storm:

In the West, winter is the time when the region experiences most of their precipitation. Well, most of this week will feature little to no rain and snow until this coming weekend when a storm is expected to move onshore, bringing a widespread dose of rain to most of the West Coast while snow affects most of the mountains in the West, including the interior. The details are still to be determined, but several inches of rain is expected while over a foot of snow falls in the mountain ranges.


Jackson is Head of Content at WeatherOptics and produces several forecasts and manages all social media platforms. Previously, Jackson forecasted local weather for southwestern Connecticut, founding his website, Jackson's Weather, in the March of 2015. He is currently studying Meteorology and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Miami.

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