Arctic Cold Returned, But Another January Thaw Will Provide Relief Late Week

Chris Dolce
Published: January 18, 2018

Arctic air returned east of the Rockies this past week, but another January thaw will bring relief from the shivering temperatures late this week.

This current round of frigid temperatures has brought the coldest conditions of the season to numerous locations.

(MORE: America's Coldest Outbreaks)

On Thursday morning, temperatures plummeted into the single digits and teens for parts of the South, with 20s into central Florida and some 30s in South Florida. Tampa dropped below freezing for the first time in just over seven years.

In fact, several locations across the South experienced the coldest temperatures since 1996 on Wednesday morning, including, Memphis, Tennessee (7 degrees), Jackson, Mississippi (10 degrees), Baton Rouge, Louisiana (14 degrees), Biloxi, Mississippi (17 degrees), and New Orleans (20 degrees).

In addition, Greenwood, Mississippi, saw temperatures plummet to 5 degrees, which is the coldest morning there since Dec. 24, 1989.

Wind chills in the 20s to 40s below zero gripped parts of eastern Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota Monday morning and again early Tuesday. This bout of extreme cold is associated with a second Arctic blast that has swept south and eastward. Wind chills in the single-digits above and below zero impacted the South, including the northern Gulf Coast, on Wednesday morning.

(MORE: Winter Storm Central)

The first shot of arctic air in this colder weather pattern arrived late last week and sent the actual air temperature as low as 47 degrees below zero Saturday morning in Cando, Langdon and Munich, North Dakota.

Current Wind Chills

The National Weather Service has issued wind chill advisories from the Appalachians to the South for this latest round of bitterly cold air. This includes much of Florida, with the exception of far southern Florida.

Wind Chill Alerts

Here's a look at how long you'll shiver before relief arrives.

Bitterly Cold Arctic Blast Through Midweek

  • An Alberta Clipper low-pressure system ushered in a reinforcing shot of Arctic air into the Midwest and northern/central Plains early this week.
  • That batch of cold air then swept into the southern Plains and Ohio Valley Tuesday and has now pushed through the Southeast and mid-Atlantic.
  • Wind chills once again plunged to bitterly cold levels in the north-central U.S. states this week, ranging from the 20s below zero to the 40s below zero, with wind chills in the 20s below zero as far south as northern Missouri and northern Kansas.
  • Lows in the teens will surge into the mid-South through Thursday, with even lower wind chills.
  • This cold weather pattern is unlikely to set as many record lows as we saw in early January, but some are possible.

Forecast AM Lows

Several daily record lows were set on Tuesday, including, Joplin, Missouri (6 degrees below zero), Wichita Falls, Texas (6 degrees), Jackson, Mississippi (13 degrees), and Houston (26 degrees).

Additional daily record lows were set on Wednesday, including Waco, Texas (8 degrees), Hattiesburg, Mississippi (12 degrees), Lake Charles, Louisiana (19 degrees), Beaumont, Texas (19 degrees), New Orleans, (20 degrees) and Victoria, Texas (21 degrees). 

Daily record cold high temperatures were also set including, Montgomery, Alabama (29 degrees), Jackson, Mississippi (29 degrees, tied), Hattiesburg, Mississippi (33 degrees), Galveston, Texas (36 degrees) and Corpus Christi, Texas (36 degrees).

January to Close With Another Thaw

Forecast guidance suggests that after we get past the early- to mid-week cold shot, a milder temperature regime will become established from the Plains to the East Coast starting late this week.

High temperatures are likely to be near or above average in most areas east of the Rockies by Friday or Saturday.

Warming Trend Late Week

The pattern change will feature a building ridge of high pressure over the north-central Pacific, which will induce an overall southward dip in the jet stream across the western states.

This, in turn, will force the jet stream to ride farther north in the eastern states, keeping cold air bottled up to the north.

The milder weather pattern may stick around in the eastern states into the final full week of January.

(MORE: 10-Day Forecast Temperatures)

Temperature Outlook

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center indicated in the latest 6- to 10-day outlook that most areas east of the Appalachians have a 50 percent or greater chance of above-average temperatures during the Jan. 23-27 period.

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