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Weather forecasting and analysis, space and historic events, climate information

10:00 AM | ***Siberian connection to next week's cold as this incredible long-lasting frigid pattern continues into early February***

Paul Dorian

gfs_cold_Tues[GFS forecast of 2-meter temperature anomalies; courtesy WeatherBEll Analytics]

gfs_cold [GFS forecast of 2-meter temperature anomalies; courtesy WeatherBEll Analytics]


Overview In my many years of weather forecasting, I have seldom seen an overall pattern with the type of sustained bitter cold that will likely be experienced in much of the eastern half of the nation this week right into February. To find such brutal cold one has to go back to January 1994 or January 1985 and for sustained cold perhaps to the winters of the middle 1970's (76-77, 77-78). The current air mass in the eastern US rivals the “polar vortex” cold air outbreak of earlier this month, but that was a rather short-lived, albeit very painful, period compared to what we’ll likely experience from today into early February. It is certainly time to take notice when the main US computer forecast model (GFS) predicts temperatures anomalies of 30 to 50 degrees below normal - in back-to-back weeks - during the climatologically coldest time of the year [purple regions of the GFS 2-meter temperature anomaly forecast maps; courtesy WeatherBell Analytics at]. Heating systems will be sorely tested during this period and, needless to say, the bills will be as high as they have been in a long time.

Next couple of days Tuesday's Mid-Atlantic snowstorm ushered in the first Arctic air mass that began this long-lasting cold weather pattern. Temperatures bottomed out around zero in many of the suburbs of the big cities during the past couple of nights and will no doubt drop to the low single digits late tonight with a fresh influx of Arctic air. Flirting with the 0 degree mark in the I-95 suburban locations for three nights in a row is indeed a rarity in this part of the country. It is not just the Mid-Atlantic region that is in the deep freeze. Temperatures dropped to the freezing mark in many parts of Florida and there is a winter storm warning for the southeastern coastal region of Texas as Houston and Galveston may receive some frozen precipitation in the near term.

Siberian connection to next week's cold Yet another Arctic air outbreak is destined to move into the Mid-Atlantic region on Sunday and then, after a less harsh Monday, an absolute brutal air mass will invade the central and eastern US on Tuesday and Wednesday. That particular Arctic blast has its origins in Siberia and it promises to feature some incredible cold (more details below in the video discussion). Siberian air masses are often quite noteworthy as they have in the past produced some record-breaking cold in this part of the world. Siberia is an extensive land mass and air masses that spend some time in that region this time of year can get amazingly cold as there is no nearby water body to help modify its temperatures. The “cross polar” air mass that is expected to arrive in the eastern US on Tuesday and Wednesday may not be the last as the overall weather pattern could certainly bring another into the US.

Snow threats As far as snow is concerned, with these multiple Arctic air outbreaks there will be numerous snow threats. Snow showers are possible late Thursday in the I-95 corridor before the arrival of the next Arctic blast, but this should not amount to much in terms of accumulations. The next Arctic front on Saturday will contain more moisture and there can be a couple inches of snow as a result in the I-95 corridor before more frigid air moves in for Sunday. Yet another Arctic front will approach the Mid-Atlantic region on Sunday night and Monday and there is the potential for a storm to form along the frontal boundary zone. In fact, the upper air pattern for this frontal system resembles somewhat the pattern associated with Tuesday's snowstorm as there is an impressive short wave of energy rounding the base of a long wave trough. No matter if a storm does actually materialize on Monday near the Mid-Atlantic coast, there will no doubt be some painfully cold air invading the central and eastern US on Tuesday and Wednesday with the arrival of the "Siberian" air mass. Temperatures next week could drop to 25 degrees below zero in Chicago, near zero around the big cities along the I-95 corridor, and a deep freeze is likely way down in the Deep South.