A prelude to the main Arctic outbreak was already getting established Thursday with a surge of cold air. A cold front continued to march across the nation, traversing the Appalachians before knocking highs back some 15 degrees for a much cooler Friday.
Washington, Philadelphia and the rest of the Northeast corridor are next in line, with the front bringing a few hours of light rain around the time of the evening commute. The District will climb into the lower 60s on Thursday but may hover around 44 degrees Friday. Boston will be stuck in the upper 30s on Friday.
The sharp drop in the mercury was highly noticeable in places the front already cleared. Denver fell from around 60 degrees at 10 a.m. Wednesday to 31 degrees by 1 p.m. (Exceptional temperature swings are nothing new to the Mile High City, a place that last month saw 83 degree sunshine, snow and 55 mph winds all within an eight-hour window.)
The same cold front was cruising through the Dallas area on Thursday morning. The city was roughly 70 degrees at midnight Wednesday, easing back to 62 by 7 a.m. Thursday before dropping 10 degrees in an hour as the front passed. The front was even noticeable on Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport’s Doppler radar:
But this first cold spell pales in comparison to what’s on the docket for next week.
The cold’s leading edge will charge south from the U.S.-Canada border Sunday morning, spilling into the northern part of the country and Upper Midwest before collapsing into the Great Plains and Corn Belt. By Monday, places such as Minneapolis, Chicago, the Kansas City area and Detroit will all be in the freezer.
Monday’s high may be only 18 degrees in the Twin Cities, which could tie the record-lowest high temperature from 1986. Madison, Wis., which has already seen over a foot of snow this year (the most on record so early in the season), looks to break its record-cold high of 23 degrees, set in 1894. Overnight lows in both cities will fall into the single digits.
On Tuesday, the front will cross the Tennessee Valley, press up against the Appalachians and slosh into New England. Farther west, Texas and Louisiana will feel the frosty chill as the cold snap makes it all the way to the Gulf.
In St. Louis, a few flurries may fly on Veterans Day; Tuesday will be cold — only in the upper 20s — albeit not quite a record. And Memphis will dash its record for chilliest high Tuesday, the forecast of 33 degrees taking the cake from a 37-degree reading on Nov. 12, 1920.
Houston could drop from a high of 70 degrees Monday to 46 on Tuesday. While that’s not a record (the record-low maximum is 44 degrees), it’s still wicked cold. Especially considering that water temperatures are still in the upper 60s to near 70.
The core of the cold will shift east Wednesday, with many cities along the Interstate 95 corridor flirting with record-cold highs. From Washington to New York, highs may struggle to hit 40 while holding in the 30s over much of New England.
Even Atlanta, the rest of the Southeast and possibly even northern Florida — yes, actually — will feel some chill Wednesday. New Orleans could approach record territory with a forecast high of only 48 degrees. Panama City, Fla., won’t make it out of the middle 50s on Wednesday. The same is true in Tallahassee.
Where the bone-chilling air passes over the warm Gulf of Mexico waters, stunning sunrise “sea smoke” is likely.
Indications favor that this pattern will stick around through the end of next week before things become highly variable once again as the seasons battle it out. Ultimately, though, winter will win. This time of year, it always does.