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  • Tim McGill

Coldest Air Of The Season So Far

Nasty Combination Of Cold & Wind

An Arctic cold front came crashing in last night on the tail end of a system that kicked up a couple of inches of new snow for most areas. That fresh snow will be blown around today by winds gusting over 30 mph. A winter weather advisory is in effect until noon today because of blowing and drifting snow with reduced visibilities.

Today will be the coldest day of the season so far. We can't complain too much. Up until yesterday this winter has been relatively mild. December ended up 5.1° above average. January was 5.4° above average and the first part of February has been 3° above average. Thus far we have not seen any highs below 20°. That changes today. The warmest part of today has already occurred. O'Hare was at 19° at midnight. After dropping into the single digits early today the afternoon highs should reach into just the middle teens. It has been almost a year since we had a day with highs in the teens. On February 14th last year our high was 15°. That day was also the last time we dipped below zero. The low that morning was -2°.

When it gets this cold we have to consider the wind chill or "feels like" temperatures too. The combination of gusty winds today and frigid Friday temperatures will make it feel much colder than those teens we will see at our "warmest" part of the afternoon.

Wind chills this afternoon will dip to -5° to -15° in our coldest spots west and north of the city. Wind chills Sunday morning could drop to -15° to -25°. Winds will gust early today to near 35 mph. Even though the winds diminish this weekend the bitter cold temperatures mean just a light breeze could create dangerous wind chills.

The coldest part of this weekend will be Sunday morning. The GFS model has consistently called for record breaking cold. The record low for Sunday morning is -10°. If the GFS model verifies, we would break a record that goes back 146 years. I think we will get close to that record but not all the models have it quite as cold as the GFS model. Any way you slice it, it will be a brutal morning.

The GFS model has sub-zero lows for the next three straight mornings. It has lows tomorrow morning dipping down to about -4° to -9°. Monday morning's lows would fall to -4° to -8° according to this model.

The worst may be yet to come for the country with this bitter blast of Arctic air. The GFS temperature anomaly forecast has the Chicago area around 35° to 40° below average a week from Saturday. This polar plunge sinks all the way southward through Texas and into most of Florida. We may not climb above freezing for at least a couple of weeks. Keep reminding yourself spring is only 43 days away.

Several Snow Chances

The GFS model spits out several rounds of mostly light snow between this weekend and the middle of next week.

The accumulated snowfall meteogram suggests most of these systems will squeeze out just minor accumulations. It shows several model solutions for the upcoming snowfall. The first round arrives late Saturday into early Sunday with most models forecasting around an inch or less of new snowfall. Other rounds of similar snowfall would arrive late Monday into Tuesday, the first part of Wednesday and then later Thursday.

The GFS model lays down about a dusting to nearly an inch with our first round tomorrow night.

The second round would be about an inch or two late Monday into early Tuesday morning. The totals shown here are between about 2" to 3" but this also includes our weekend snow.

The Blues Get Bluer

The colder pattern that settled in last night (or should I say came crashing in on gusty winds) may be with us through the middle of the month. Our probabilities for a colder than average pattern have increased as noted by the darker blues now centered almost directly over Illinois. The latest 6-10 day temperature probability forecast has the Chicago area outlooked for below average temperatures overall from February 10th through February 14th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast continues to keep us outlooked for below average temperatures overall from February 12th through February 18th. There could be a few days were temperatures get to around or even above average but the overall trend is for a much colder pattern than what we have seen so far this winter.

The even longer range Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) forecast seems to suggest February will stay frigid (overall) through nearly the end of the month. The forecasts for both the week ending February 19th and the week ending February 26th have us favored for below average temperatures overall.

More Quiet Pattern To Come

The year started off with a snowfall deficit compared to average but we made it up quickly in the past several days. As described above, it looks like we will stay average into the early part of next week. The long range temperature probability forecasts seem to suggest a more quiet pattern is coming for the middle of the month. The 6-10 day forecast favors us for below average precipitation overall from February 10th through February 14th. The 8-14 day forecast keeps us outlooked for below average precipitation overall from February 12th through February 18th.

Here is my 7 day forecast:

Today: Blowing & drifting snow in open areas early, blustery, a few flurries High: 15

Saturday: Mostly cloudy, light snow late Low: -4 High: 14

Sunday: Sunny start then increasing clouds Low: -8 High: 8

Monday: Mostly cloudy, light snow possible late Low: 2 High: 15

Tuesday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 1 High: 14

Wednesday: Partly to mostly cloudy, light snow possible Low: 0 High: 15

Thursday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: -2 High: 10



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