Some of the cold could be record-challenging if the most extreme forecasts are correct.
The first cold wave arrived over the weekend into Christmas Day, infiltrating the Pacific Northwest, the Northern Rockies and much of the eastern half of the nation.
On Tuesday morning, a reinforcing blast of cold sent windchill temperatures across North Dakota and northern Minnesota crashing to around minus-40, offering just a taste of even more bitter cold to come.
But it’s the surge of cold that follows, expected to be unleashed this weekend and to continue into early next week, that may be even more severe — particularly in the central United States.
Jason Furtado, a meteorology professor at University of Oklahoma, described the forecast as “about as anomalously cold as it gets” in a tweet.
Taylor Trogdon, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, tweeted that the American model is forecasting some of the most extreme cold “ever observed” in central Missouri, with highs below zero and lows near minus-20 around New Year’s.
This frigid air may well expand east into the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast by New Year’s Day or shortly thereafter.
The cold waves, together, could become noteworthy for their intensity and duration. The National Weather Service is calling for New York City’s average temperature over the next seven days to be around 19 degrees, which is about 10 degrees below average.
Just how cold will your city be? Here is the American modeling system’s (ensemble mean) forecast for the coldest day between Wednesday and New Year’s Day:
- Minneapolis: Saturday. High: minus-9, low: minus-15
- Milwaukee: Saturday. High: 6, low: minus-2
- St. Louis: Sunday. High: 1, low: Minus-9
- Oklahoma City: Monday. High: 9, low: minus-1
- Dallas: Monday. High: 20, low: 11
- Chicago: Saturday. High: 4, low: minus-1
- Detroit: Monday. High: 14, low: 4
- Cleveland: Monday. High: 15, low: 11
- Indianapolis: Monday. High: 6, low: minus-5
- Memphis: Monday. High: 16, low: 9
- Boston: Wednesday. High: 11, low: 6
- New York: Monday. High: 17, low: 6
- Pittsburgh: Monday. High: 15, low: 4
- Washington: Monday. High: 20, low: 10
- Raleigh, N.C.: Monday. High: 26, low: 15
- Atlanta: Monday. High: 35, low: 20
Keep in mind that model forecasts, so far this year, have tended to run colder than reality beyond three days into the future. So it remains to be seen whether the cold will be this intense.
But irrespective of its exact magnitude, models are in strong agreement that the abnormally cold period will last for a while — at least the next week to 10 days. After that, there may be a gradual thaw.