Cold air is here to stay for a while

The cold just keeps coming and in fact there’s a really good chance next weeks 3rd surge of Arctic air could be the most intense of the season. The cold air could be the longest lasting in 3 winters as the below average temperatures could last at least 10 days.A persistent ridge of high pressure will dominate the west coast where California is baking and drying out under a drought. While on the east coast a persistent trough of low pressure is keeping things very cold and unsettled with storm after storm. Add in another blocking high developing in the North Atlantic and buckets full of cold arctic air are being force feed into the eastern half the country.


The ridge, trough and then ridge configuration produces cross polar flow which allows for the Polar Vortex to spin down large amounts of very cold air. While the polar vortex never really leaves the polar regions it does displace lobes further south that help pin wheel cold air in the U.S. So much so that by next Wednesday you have a full hemispheric trough. This has the potential to be colder than the outbreak 2 weeks ago for a couple of reasons.

  1. There is more snow-pack over the Midwest and Ohio Valley now with likely more to fall. This keeps the air mass cold and doesn’t allow for modification or warming.
  2. We have some blocking now in both the Pacific and Atlantic which will force the cold air deeper into the U.S.
  3. The days heading into this outbreak will be much colder than before the last one. Which had record highs in many spots ahead of the trough.


So what does this mean for Charlotte and the Carolinas?:

One look at the ECMWF model ensembles shows a period of highs in the the 20s and 30s with morning lows in the singles digits and teens. Pay particular attention to next week when the temperatures will be very close to the outbreak 2 weeks ago. Stay warm, be safe and make sure you have safe heating sources. Working smoke detectors and that all pets have warm places to stay during the cold snap. If you had problems with pipe before take full precautions this next go around as well.


This is backed up by the GFS Ensembles.


Here’s a look at a few morning lows from the GFS Deterministic model. Which could be all too high.