Following a brief but very welcome January thaw, where temperatures were as much as 50 degrees above average and broke several records, another round of significant cold will continue to move in and will affect the entire eastern two-thirds of the nation by the end of day Saturday. The main reason that you could blame for the unease of the Arctic air is the transition to a positive Pacific-North American Pattern. This type of pattern represents a ridge of high pressure centered over the Western US. What goes up must come down, so downstream from this monster ridge will be a trough over the Eastern US, as shown below.So what exactly does this pattern change translate to in terms of temperature? In general: very cold. On Friday, high temperatures from eastern Montana to northern Minnesota, which is known as the “Icebox of the Nation” (and rightfully so), will be below zero. To the south, across the remainder of the Northern Plains and the Upper Midwest, most locations will experience highs between zero and ten degrees. The South will get in on this cold as well, although it won’t be as severe due to moderating temperatures. The Central US, Mid-Mississippi Valley, and Ohio Valley will feel temperatures between 10 and 30 degrees, which is up to 20 degrees below-average. Now east of there along the East Coast, the cold front, which is what’s ushering in the colder air, has not arrived yet. Therefore, temperatures will continue to be very mild, with many locations in the 50’s and 60’s in the Northeast and in the 60’s and 70’s across the Southeast. Enjoy that while it lasts!
Heading into Saturday, everybody east of the Rockies will be dealing with these colder temperatures. Most of the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest will feature maximum temperatures below 10 degrees. A much larger area from the Central Plains through the interior Northeast will be feeling temperatures below 30 degrees. The freezing line will work as far south as Atlanta and Dallas. Temperatures for most areas across the East will be between 5 and 15 degrees below average.
Temperatures will be about the same on Sunday as Saturday. The Central Plains will actually warm up by 5 to 10 degrees, while the Northeast coast cools down further into the 20’s. If you want to avoid the cold, escape to South Florida, where highs will only be in the 60’s.
Looking ahead to early next week, an even more intense push of Arctic air will begin to move in, affecting the Northern Plains first and eventually areas to the south and east. With this new lobe of cold, temperatures will likely be 5 to 10 degrees colder than the peak of the cold this weekend. Meanwhile out west, the monstrous ridge will remain in place, keeping it warm and toasty—at least relatively speaking.
Looking past this cold, which will last through much of next week, warmer temperatures will likely finish off the month of January for the East as the pattern changes yet again. This month has been one of the most extreme on record, as temperatures have fluctuated many times from freezing lows to record highs.Stay inside if you don’t like the cold. Just keep the positive thoughts of more warmth coming when looking ahead to at least the final week of January.