If you thought last weekend was cold, brace yourself

It happens every year… the long awaited cold front that finally drives temperatures below zero and wind chills even colder.  We all experienced it last weekend for the first time this winter.  And while conditions were frigid, it was nothing particularly unusual.  But if you thought last weekend was brutal, you better escape someplace warmer because this upcoming weekend looks even worse.  Another shot of brutally cold air will be plunging southward into the state and will likely bring chills not seen so far this winter.  Temperatures will easily be below zero, but it’s ultimately the wind that will be the issue, dropping chills to dangerous levels both Sunday and Monday that could allow frost bite to form on exposed skin in just 10 minutes.

Thursday though, we all woke up to seasonably pleasant temperatures as milder air finally made a comeback… but just won’t be lasting long.  Here is what the region looks like Thursday afternoon.

Here, we are under the influence of southerly flow allowing for at least bearably cold conditions.  But the cold air starts to plunge southward Thursday night and by Sunday, it could be one of the coldest mornings in a couple years…

So how do we know how cold we will get?  That’s a good question.  It’s a combination of where the air is coming from, how much snow is on the ground, and how quickly the temps can moderate as the air mass rolls south.  But first, we have to know where the air is coming from.  We can note the trajectory of where the air mass originated to get a guesstimate of its location, but if we want to know the exact spot, we can find that too.  We can plug in the location of the Twin Cities to one of the forecast computer models and have it show us exactly where our air will travel over the next 84 hours taking us right into Sunday morning.  Here is that image…

So this shows that the air hovering over the Twin Cities Sunday morning is currently over northern Alberta.  Now we head to our temperature map to discover how cold it is there currently to get an idea of the air mass.

The air over southern Canada is FRIGID, but our air is roughly located around Flin Flon which shows an early Thursday temperature of -10°.  THAT is the air mass headed our way.  But here’s the kicker… they too will see a push of even colder air as the cold front presses through this part of the continent, so we have to assume that temperatures will likely be AT LEAST this cold when it arrives.  YIKES!!  In fact, there is a good possibility that the metro could spend several consecutive days below zero.  Check out the potential temperatures…

This is a graph that shows the model driven temperatures for the next few days.  The days and times are on the bottom with time going from right to left.  The 0° line is highlighted in red with above zero temps above the line and below zero temps below the line.  Notice the chunk of time in the middle of the graph where temperatures are below zero.  Models are indicating that temps could be subzero for quite some time.  Temperatures are likely to drop below zero sometime Saturday and it COULD BE Wednesday before they head back above zero.  Crazy right??  Remember that this is just a possibility, but shows that some REALLY cold air is headed our way.

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