Dangerous Cold and Ice & Snow

An active weather pattern is upon us with in the lower 48 for the next several days. A strong arctic cold front will usher in dangerously cold temperatures to end the year and start off the new year. And, there is still the chance for wintry precipitation tonight into Friday for parts of the Southeast and parts of the Southern Plains (see end of article for details).

Introduction/Discussion of Cold Air
Currently, a frigid airmass is building across northern and western Canada, which will ooze southward down the leeward side of the Rockies over the next couple of days (see Fig. 1). This arctic air will arrive in Oklahoma on Saturday, northern Texas Saturday evening, and push into the coastal areas of Texas by Sunday (locations further east: Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, etc. will also see the arctic front move in Saturday into Sunday). Dangerously cold wind chills and high temperatures below freezing are likely for much of Oklahoma, northern Texas, much of Arkansas, much of Tennessee, northern Mississippi, and northern Alabama. In fact, temperatures may not get above freezing for 2-5 days depending on the location; and windchills may drop below zero for northern Texas and northwestern Mississippi, while parts of the Texas Panhandle, much of Oklahoma, and northern Arkansas see windchills 10-30 below zero. Windchill Advisories are likely for much of the western Gulf States (see Fig. 2).

Fig. 1: Cold Temperatures Building

Fig. 2: Forecast Windchills NYE

Wintry Precipitation
If the cold temperatures were not enough, wintry precipitation is possible, too. As the arctic airmass advects southward, moisture will move on top of this cold airmass. This will set the stage for freezing drizzle for much of Oklahoma, Arkansas, northern and central Texas, Tennessee, northern and central Mississippi, and northern and central Alabama. The freezing drizzle may mix with light snow flurries for parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, and possibly far western Tennessee. The chance for wintry precipitation arrives in Oklahoma on Saturday continuing into Sunday (see Fig. 3), while northern Texas will see the chance by Saturday night (see Fig. 4). Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama will see the chance for wintry precipitation by early Sunday morning continuing into Sunday afternoon (see Fig. 5). Amounts of freezing rain should be less than 1/10th of an inch, and there is the possibility for light snow accumulations on top of the freezing rain accumulations across parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and northern Mississippi.

Fig. 3: Southern Plains Wintry Precipitation Late Saturday Night

Fig. 4: Southern Plains Wintry Precipitation Sunday Afternoon

Fig. 5: Southeast Wintry Precipitation Sunday Evening

Outlook After NYE/NYD
The arctic airmass will be hard to nudge out of the South and Southeast. This will force us to keep an eye on a shortwave that is modeled to dive into Texas by Tuesday and then into the Southeast on Wednesday (see Fig. 6 and Fig. 7). This shortwave could generate enough lift to cause precipitation across the Gulf States (from Texas to the Carolinas). With the arctic airmass in place, wintry precipitation looks possible. It is too early to say with certainty this event will occur, but it needs to be closely monitored.

Fig. 6: Future Radar Tuesday Evening

Fig. 7: Future Radar Wednesday Morning

Even if your area is not expecting wintry precipitation, please protect yourself (see Fig. 8) and your animals (see Fig. 9) from this cold weather. This cold weather will be deadly. Check on your elderly neighbors. Make sure you have detectors in your home for fires and harmful chemicals, and be safe with those moveable heaters. It would also be wise to protect your pipes and plants.

Fig. 8: Protect Your Skin From The Cold

Fig 9: Protect Your Animals From The Cold

Wintry Precipitation Tonight
This weekend into next week is not the only time-frame in which wintry weather may occur. As early as tonight, freezing drizzle/freezing rain is possible for parts of the Southeast (see Fig. 10). Winter Weather Advisories go into effect tonight at 11:00PM Eastern for the eastern Carolinas (see Fig. 11). Freezing drizzle amounts should be less than 1/10th of an inch, but this will be enough to make roadways (especially elevated roads) dangerous for the Friday morning commute (see Fig. 12). It should be noted, light freezing drizzle may occur across parts of Oklahoma and northern Texas early Friday morning (see Fig. 13).

Fig 10. : Areas That Have a Chance to See Wintry Precipitation Tonight

Fig. 11: Future Radar Around 5:00AM Eastern

Fig. 12: Winter Weather Advisories

Fig. 13: Light Freezing Rain Early Friday Morning

I will continue to monitor this evolving forecast and have the latest updates as needed, so please keep checking back.

Key Takeaways
I. Wintry precipitation is possible as early as tonight for eastern South Carolina, eastern North Carolina, and southeastern Georgia. It is also possible across western Texas and Oklahoma.
II. Dangerously cold air will impact all of the Southern Plains and Southeast. Protect yourself, pets, plants, and pipes.
III. Wintry precipitation will likely occur Saturday-Sunday.
IV. A potential winter storm is being monitored for Tuesday into Wednesday for the Gulf Coast States.