Old Man Winter Hits Midwest Hard!
A huge slab of arctic air is dropping out of Canada and is setting its sights on the upper portion of the lower 48 of the United States. It will impact the upper portions of the midwest this weekend, predominately the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin with frigid temps, sub-zero wind chills, and blowing snow from gusts of wind near 50 MPH! Eventually, the cold air will move in towards the Ohio River Valley and into the Northeast as the rest of this weekend progresses, into Martin Luther King Day.
The cold air may be a little bit of a shock to many folks in the northern plains, especially in cities such as the Twin Cities area. There has not been a sub-zero high temperature recorded for that area in over 4 years! It is the longest streak ever for that metro area, with the 2nd longest streak ending on January 28th, 2004 at 1142. The Twin Cities may see the current streak come to an end soon with forecasted temps on Monday likely to be below zero.
On Thursday, the daytime high reached a nice 41°. Through the overnight hours, temps dropped to around 30° but were still running above normal. By 11AM, the front had yet to make it into the area, so the cold air had not punched through, but the southwesterly winds did help to boost the temps into the mid 30s. Soon, they will start to drop. Speaking of dropping temps, check out where the front has already been.
Grand Rapids, MN, up in northern portions of the state, had temps running around 19° during the morning hours today, and then a surge of warmth occurred. With a southwest to westerly wind gusting around 20 MPH, temps went up to the upper 20s with in a matter of a few hours, stayed there into the late morning hours, then dropped back into the teens when the winds switched to out of the northwest at gusts near 35 MPH.
In Detroit Lakes, MN, in the northwestern section of the state, you can see the lowered visibility in this picture by how grayish the city looks. That is from blowing snow that is coming along from winds of 30 mph, making it very chilly to be outside, where the wind chills were in the negative teens. Its only going to get colder as time goes on.
Elsewhere in North Dakota, the arctic front has come through earlier on in the day and it is a bad day to travel in portions of the state. There are some roadways that have ice and blowing snow, and low visibility issues. Rugby, ND, in north central portions of the state, had temperatures earlier in the single digits, but that stiff, northwesterly wind made it feel like the negative twenties! Saying “Bundle Up” is an understatement in cases like this. Any expose skin would be subjected to becoming frostbitten. So if you are ever stranded in a situation like this with your car, stay inside, its the best advice. The road map of North Dakota shows that the northeast corner is already experiencing the bad road conditions and travel is not advised.
Wind advisories extend from North Dakota to Lake Michigan and are likely to be sustained around 30-40 MPH with gusts near 50 MPH. These will be up throughout the day today.
Wind gusts across North Dakota are already incredibly high! A 51 MPH gust came through in Jamestown, ND and that is where the core of the highest winds have recently been found. Wind chill values, as a result, are into the negative numbers for much of the state. Imagine being outside in Devils Lake, ND where it feels like minus 24°… I do not even want to know what that feels like.
There is some snow associated with this system, but not much, since the air is so dry, but what will come down will be measurable in some spots.
Portions of North Dakota and Minnesota are under a blizzard warning due to the blowing snow in the area. There is not going to be a lot of snow coming into those areas, but what will be falling will be blowing around enough to reduce the visibility to less than a 1/4 of a mile, making driving very dangerous. Cities such as Devils Lake and Grand Forks are in the blizzard warning.
The highest amounts will be in the upper peninsula of Michigan where the winds will be coming off Lake Superior, leading to some lake effect snow to pile up in the area. Lake effect advisories and warning are up across the area for cities such as Hancock, Marquette and Newberry, where almost a foot of snow could come down.
The temperatures tonight across the upper portions of the midwest will be very, VERY chilly. It will be a virtual icebox in International Falls, MN where temps will get down to nearly 20° below zero.
In fact, on Sunday, temps do not warm up anywhere near where they should be for this time of year. This arctic air mass keeps the highs around the single digits and even below zero. Devils Lake only “warms up” to temps around minus 12°. Sunday night, oh boy, it gets even colder. Forecasted low temps will be down into the negative twenties for portions of North Dakota and Minnesota.
Martin Luther King Day on Monday will be see the chilly air linger.
There is your first sub-zero high temperature for the Twin Cities. We shall see how much the forecast will prove valid, but it certainly looks like that frosty air is going to really snuff out any chance of normalcy in terms of average highs.
As for the rest of the nation, well that arctic air is going to be on the move. I’ll show you where it is going and how much temperatures will be running below normal. Saturday starts off with warmer air riding up through the central plains and into towards the Great Lakes. The Twin Cities sees highs warm up into above normal in the afternoon hours, before the cold arrives and by Sunday, notice the deep dark purple over the Dakotas, that is some bone-chilling air.
By Tuesday, the cold air has moved towards the eastern seaboard. Even the deep south can not escape the frigid air, although at that point, the airmass has started to moderate and the drop in temps will not be as bad as what the northern plains have experienced.
Over the next three days, colder air will move into cities such as St. Louis, Detroit, NYC, Little Rock and Atlanta. By contrast, the southwest stays warm and very pleasant, especially the coastal areas of California. San Francisco and Los Angeles enjoy amazing weather with highs in the 60s to 80s under sunny skies.
Now I can see why “snow birds” do what they do. Escape the cold, head down south, where it is nice and warm. Old Man Winter will be awaiting your return back north.
Have a great weekend everyone.
Meteorologist Addison Green (twitter @agreenWNTV)