A bicycle messenger chains his bike to a snow-covered parking meter in downtown Cleveland Friday, Nov. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

 

A strong cold front is pushing through the contiguous U.S. early this week, bringing a blast of snow for many, and an Arctic chill for most. Over 50 percent of the Lower 48 is covered in snow on Monday morning, the most this early in the year in at least a decade.

After a series of powerful early-November winter storms, snow extends as far south as West Texas on Monday morning, according to NOAA’s National Snow Analysis. The Texas Panhandle is covered by up to four inches of snow, and a trace to two inches coats areas further south, including Dallas and Ft. Worth, as well as Lubbock, Abilene, and Odessa.


Animation of snow depth from November 1, 2014 through November 17, 2014. More than 50 percent of the contiguous U.S. is covered in snow, which is the largest area for November in at least a decade. (NOAA modified by CWG)

The entire states of South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Oklahoma were coated in snow as of Monday morning. Few areas of the central U.S. managed to escape the wintry onslaught, and the accumulation across the country has been widespread over the past week, from Oregon to Maine, and south into Texas.

This week’s snow extent is the most we’ve seen (by a long shot) in the first half of November since 2003, when the National Snow Analysis archive begins. Only 2012 comes as close to this year’s 50.4 percent coverage — on Nov. 12, 2012, 31.5 percent of the lower 48 was covered in snow.

Related: Record-challenging cold to grip D.C. area this week

Almost all of the 50.4 percent was accumulated in the past seven days. On Monday, Nov. 10, snow covered just 11 percent of the lower 48 states.

Up to 20 inches of snow remains on the ground in the Upper Midwest, which was hammered by the first blast of the season early last week. Northern Wisconsin is the hardest hit so far, with some locations picking up as much as 50 inches of snow from Nov. 10 through Nov. 14.

The snow assisted in keeping morning lows cool on Monday. Lows were in the single digits from Montana south into Kansas. In the Texas Panhandle, Amarillo bottomed out at a measly 10 degrees, while Lubbock only reached 12. Sub-freezing lows extended as far south as Austin, Texas, on Monday morning.

These chilly lows are up to 35 degrees below normal for this time of year in the central U.S.


Temperature departure from average in degrees Fahrenheit on Monday morning from the GFS model. (weatherbell.com)

It might be time to think warm thoughts, though. One more push of cold air is expected later this week, which could send temperatures plummeting to 40 degrees below average across the Great Lakes and into the Northeast by the weekend. But after that, the temperature is expected to rebound into “normal” territory for this time of year, and even has the potential to be running far above average across the Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard by early next week.

Colorado gets pummeled by snow once more on Saturday following the week's record-setting cold snap. (Reuters)