In recent days, some of the coldest March air in decades has gripped portions of Alaska and the Canadian Arctic. Fragments of that frigid air will come crashing into the eastern United States on Friday and into the weekend.
The air spilling into the Great Lakes, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic may not fall to record levels, but it could bring the coldest weather to parts of the region since January.
Its pedigree is impressive.
On Saturday, Mould Bay in the Canadian Arctic set an all-time record low of minus-66.5 degrees (minus-54.7 Celsius).
— Patrick Duplessis (@Pat_wx) March 4, 2017
Then on Monday, Fairbanks, Alaska, saw its temperature plummet to minus-38, the coldest temperature this late in the season since 1964, according to climatologist Brian Brettschneider.
Meteorologist Ryan Maue tweeted that temperatures in the Canadian Arctic’s lower atmosphere challenged the coldest levels observed in March since at least 1958.
GFS forecast is even colder in next 24-hours at -47°C at 850-hPa, coldest globally for month of March since at least 1958. pic.twitter.com/Mj7CgmjdEf
— Ryan Maue (@RyanMaue) March 6, 2017
The extreme cold was because of the unusual strength of the polar vortex swirling over the region.
Tentacles of that vortex will dislodge and slap the Great Lakes, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic with a stinging round of March cold between Friday and the weekend.
“You can say little puffs [of cold] come down, elongate and spread out,” Maue said.
Between Friday evening and Monday morning, much of the region will experience temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below normal.
The core of the cold will consume the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Low temperatures in the interior portions of the New England will dip into the single digits, while coastal areas fall to the teens. In the Mid-Atlantic, widespread lows in the 20s are likely.
Afternoon highs both weekend days will only be in the teens and 20s in New England, and 30s in the Mid-Atlantic.
The air will be so cold that it is likely to suppress the storm track into the Deep South, and snow will be possible over the lower Mid-Atlantic, including parts of North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.
As much of this region experienced record warmth in February and flowers have begun to bloom, these bitter cold temperatures could cause damage to sensitive species.
Colder-than-normal weather is forecast to persist in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast well into next week.