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Temps 'low to moderate' after severe cold Monday

Updated: 01/06/2014 @ 11:41am

Much of the country is under the grip of the one of the coldest air masses in nearly 20 years. Temperatures have dropped to freezing as far south as the central and northern Gulf Coast with areas as far south as central and southern Texas dipping near freezing. Zero-degree temperatures are currently as far south as the Kansas/Oklahoma borders, east through the Arkansas/Missouri border along the southern periphery of the Midwest near the Ohio River.

High temperatures today will remain near to below zero from central Missouri east along the southern Midwest, where recent snowfall has coated much of this region with a decent snowpack. Areas across the northern Midwest will experience the worst of the cold as temperatures will fail to reach -10 degrees F. from central Iowa east across central portions of the Ohio Valley north through Minnesota, Wisconsin, and central and eastern North Dakota. Currently, 52% of the U.S. is covered with snow. 

The latest snow cover analysis indicates very thin cover across much of Nebraska, northern Kansas, and some portions of southern Kansas. These areas are all near to below zero, and will likely experience at least some damage to the hard red winter wheat crop. Across the Midwest, most areas that will experience below zero temperatures today have a snowpack of at least 3 inches in depth.

Extreme southern Illinois and Indiana may have some issues with thin snow cover and temperatures near zero, although the impacts appear greater for the HRW wheat. Tomorrow, this bitterly cold air mass settles across the East Coast despite some moderation as it crosses the Great Lakes.

Temperatures will be low to moderate across the central portion of the country this week. However, as the E Pacific ridge continues to break down, a more zonal jet stream will allow a warmer air mass to arrive in the central/southern Plains and Midwest by the 10th of the month, with Jan 12 potentially offering above- to well-above normal temperatures across the Plains and Midwest.

It then appears a normal to warmer-than-normal pattern will continue through a least the 15th of the month. Beyond this time frame, some of our long-range models show another accumulation of bitterly cold temperatures across central and western Canada. Whether or not this air mass is able to plunge south into the U.S. is uncertain this far out. Regardless, the odds seem low of another Arctic outbreak to the current magnitude occurring later this month.

The next two days could very well be the coldest of the winter. Our ENSO-based analogs do lend some support to this. What is more certain is that a rather unsettled pattern will occur across the central/eastern Midwest this week with the 6-10 day time frame offering wetter-than-normal conditions for the Pacific Northwest and eastern U.S. It appears that more dry weather will be in store for the western Midwest and eastern Plains through the extended period.

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