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The good old days of December with its warm and gentle ways have passed us by. Winter has finally found the Midwest and seems content to keep us in its icy grip until further notice. That's not to say there won't be a few "milder" days in January but overall, the month looks cold with below normal temperatures.

December though is going to go down as a warm one. In the Quad Cities the average temperature averaged of 35.6 degrees, a full 7.6 degrees above normal making it the 7th warmest December on record. That also included a 75 degree high on December 15th, the highest reading ever recorded during December. The month also included a rare tornado watch, with 43 confirmed tornadoes in Iowa the 15th, an all-time record for any day of the year! It was a truly remarkable month.

Here are the daily temperatures for December in Cedar Rapids. 25 of the 31 days highs were above normal. The coldest high for the month was only 25. A total of 9 days produced highs in the 50s.

Compare that to January so far. Not a single day above freezing yet with lows of 12 and 13 below with more sub-zero cold in the forecast.

Notice how widespread the warmth was in December with 95% of the U.S. mainland above normal.

Compare that to the first 5 days of January below. The other shoe has dropped.

By the way, here's a picture sent to me by Bradley Hampton of the whiteout conditions that were found around the region Wednesday thanks to those 45mph Arctic breezes.

Here's another image of the blowing snow taken in Scott County, Iowa courtesy of the NWS Quad Cities.

While not as strong, the winds will remain brisk into Thursday morning producing wind chills of 15-25 below near and west of the Mississippi. A wind chill advisory is in effect until noon. Further east temperatures won't be quite as cold and and so the NWS has not extended the advisory across the river. Even so, wind chills will be significant in the range of 12-18 below there as well.

Here's what the NWS is showing for wind chills to start Thursday morning.

The remainder of Thursday brisk NW winds will continue and temperatures will only climb into the single digits for highs with wind chills in the range of 5 to 20 below all day. Thursday night looks to be the worst of this burst of cold with lows in some spots going colder than 15 below, especially north of I-80. The EURO indicates this.

Just to emphasize the point, wind chills Thursday night will be quite significant potentially reaching 25-30 below zero.

Winds veer to the southeast Friday as the Arctic high retreats to the east but it will take most of the day before we sniff the benefits. After a frigid start highs will reach the single digits north to the low teens south. Friday night the southerly winds increase allowing temperatures to slowly rise. That sets the stage for warmer readings Saturday that have the potential to reach into the low to mid 30s.

Unfortunately, that won't last long as another Arctic front sweeps southeast Saturday night. NW winds will rev up behind it delivering a renewed pop of cold air Sunday and Monday. That wanes Tuesday as another cold front rapidly approaches with warm air advection ahead of it. That's over Tuesday night and behind the front more cold air builds in for Wednesday and Thursday. It looks like a progressive push pull pattern with ups and downs in temperatures but little more than flurries with regards to precipitation. The 10 day precipitation totals on the GFS are anemic at best.

To sum it up, we stay the course with a cold but dry forecast right on through the weekend. Roll weather...TS


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