Arctic air will blow up much of the US just before Christmas

Forecasters are warning of treacherous vacation travel and life-threatening cold weather for much of the nation if an Arctic air mass blows into the already frigid southern United States.

“We’re seeing well below normal temperatures, possibly record low temperatures ahead of the Christmas holidays,” said Zack Taylor, a weather forecaster with the National Weather Service.

The “rare and dangerous Arctic air mass is likely to bring extreme and prolonged freezing conditions to southern Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana,” according to the National Weather Service in one special weather statement Sunday.

By Thursday evening, temperatures in Jackson, Mississippi, will drop to as low as 13 degrees (minus 10.6 degrees Celsius); and around 5 degrees (minus 15 degrees Celsius) in Nashville, Tennessee, is forecast by the National Weather Service.

Incoming Arctic air is arriving as a previous storm system begins to ease in the northeastern US buried parts of the region under two feet (61 centimeters) of snow. More than 80,000 customers in New England were still without power as of Sunday morning, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks outages across the country.

In much of the US, winter weather is set to worsen before it gets better. The coming week will bring the potential for a “significant winter storm” in the eastern two-thirds of the United States just before Christmas, according to the latest forecasts from the Federal Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

“The main weather story that will make headlines next week will be the massive spread of frigid temperatures from the northern Rocky Mountains/Northern Plains to the Midwest through mid-week and then hitting the Gulf Coast and much of the eastern US Friday and into the weekend,” warned the Weather Prediction Center.

“An extremely strong arctic front will usher in the season’s coldest air by a considerable margin, with widespread negative overnight lows expected from the northern Rocky Mountains to the central/northern Plains and upper Midwest extending south and North extends Oklahoma and southern Missouri.”

In Atlanta, where low temperatures are expected to drop below freezing early Monday morning, forecasters are warning of even colder air through the end of the week, according to the National Weather Service’s office in Peachtree City, Ga. Friday night’s low in Atlanta will be about 13 degrees (minus 10.6 degrees Celsius), with Saturday’s high still below freezing at about 29 degrees (minus 1.7 degrees Celsius), the weather service forecast.

Florida won’t have a white Christmas, but forecasters expect this weekend to be unusually cold across the state.

Cities in North Florida like Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Pensacola have forecast Christmas Eve lows in the 20’s (minus 3 degrees Celsius) and highs of around 40 (4 degrees Celsius). Orlando and Tampa aren’t expected to surpass 50 (10 degrees Celsius) on Christmas Eve, and even Miami isn’t expected to get out of the 50s (15 degrees Celsius).

In the Northeast, utility companies hired additional workers from other states, but were hampered by slippery roads and hazardous conditions.

“This was heavy, wet snow that affected both travel and infrastructure in the area,” said Frank Pereira, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Vermont officials warned Saturday that power to some customers may not be restored for two to three days. The state was scouting locations for potential warming centers in the hardest-hit areas if they were needed, state officials said.

Police across New England were responding to hundreds of crashes or vehicles skidding off the road during the weekend’s storm. The Maine State Police said Saturday night that they have responded to more than 180 accidents since Friday night. Police said there were only minor injuries.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/national/2022/12/18/arctic-air-will-blast-much-of-us-just-before-christmas/ Arctic air will blow up much of the US just before Christmas

Sarah Y. Kim

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