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Here's a warm thought on a frigid winter day. With all the numbers accounted for, the Midwest Climate Center indicates this past December was the 4th warmest for the Midwest as a whole since 1895. The average temperature was 5.8 degrees above normal. Missouri, with a departure of +9.4 degrees per day experienced its warmest December ever.

As you would expect, the winter season severity index is generally mild to moderate across the Midwest. The only region experiencing average to severe ratings is North Dakota and the northern sections of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Locally, what snow has fallen this winter has largely come since December 28th. Here's the seasonal snow totals across the nation. The upper reaches of the Midwest have actually done quite well with up to 4 feet already down in NC Wisconsin.

Nationally, 42% of the country has at least an inch of snow on the ground as of Thursday. That is a huge change since December 25th when only 10% of the nation had a white Christmas.

And as you may recall, the skies were blue and cloudless Thursday which means what you are seeing in the satellite image below is snow cover. The definition is so good that you can even see the river valleys of eastern Iowa and northern Illinois. Pretty cool!

Speaking of cool, it's those river valley's where temperatures are going to be coldest Friday morning. With the ridge axis directly over us winds will be light by daybreak allowing the dense Arctic air to drain into the lower lying areas, especially north of I-80. It is not out of the question some of the traditionally colder locations could see lows of 15 to 19 below zero. The hi-res HRRR is showing this. Ouch!

As you can see below, these readings are 30-35 degrees below normal. A little pay back for December's warmth.

With temperatures like that, even a slight breeze brings wind chills into the dangerous category of 20-35 below late Thursday night and early Friday. The HRRR shows these wind chills just before sunrise.

As a result, the NWS has the appropriate wind chill advisories in effect for all of my region Friday morning.

Thanks to the snow cover, even with winds turning SE Friday, temperatures will have a long way to warm after the frigid sub-zero start. Most places will reach the single digits but in areas where snow cover is the deepest, highs might struggle to get much above zero. The HRRR indicates this for highs Friday. Wind chills will improve in the afternoon but will still be an issue in the range of 5 to 15 below after starting the day 20-30 below zero.

Saturday the next strong cold front enters Minnesota and with brisk southerly winds temperatures, after slowly rising Friday night, take off Saturday and should approach freezing (maybe a couple degrees above in the south). They remain there most of Saturday night until the front hits late. At that time readings will begin to fall reaching the single digits north to mid teens south Sunday morning. Once there they hold steady the rest of the day with gusty winds sending wind chills below zero once again.

Temperatures look to remain cold through Tuesday but another attempt at a minor thaw gets readings near or just above freezing Wednesday and Thursday before another cool-down next Friday.

If there is going to be any precipitation the next 7 days, it will be very light and confined to two periods. The first is late Saturday or Saturday evening when some warm advection showers are shown clipping the SE half of my area. Totals are .01 to .03 so very light. However, with the recent cold and surface temperatures hovering close to 32, some freezing rain or mixed precipitation is possible. Even if it's just drizzle it could produce some slick driving conditions and needs to be watched.

The other opportunity exists Monday with a very weak clipper. So weak that it hardly has any surface reflection. Even so the GFS tries to scare up a band of light snow that cuts across the NE half of my area, (generally NE of the Quad Cities). Amounts are generally an inch or less. The EURO shows nothing measurable so it may be a nothing burger. The GEM is also dry. Lots of time to resolve that little issue.


The period of most interest to me begins to manifest itself around January 15th. The GFS shows a series of impulses rotating around the polar vortex. Not only do they carve out a deep trough that extends across much of the nation, it begins to stretch the polar vortex and relocate the center. Such a set-up would have the potential to bring bitterly cold weather into the heartland. Watch what happens in the 500mb jet stream pattern between the 15th and 22nd of January. The original vortex shears into two separate entities much further south.

It's never prudent to put too much stock in a model beyond 7 days unless you have far better consistency than I'm currently seeing. I do think the potential is there during this period for colder and potentially snowier weather but there's too much spread in solutions to buy stock in it just yet. As your broker, I will let you know when it's time to pull the trigger.

That's all for the here and now. Enjoy that nice fresh Arctic air as you venture out this morning. If nothing else it's a Friday and that should ease your pain a bit. Have a great weekend and roll weather...TS