If you are not a fan of the cold then enjoy this week because 50s and low 60s will feel like summer by the time Monday gets here. Starting this weekend there will be a major pattern shift across the eastern US, and will start bringing in waves of arctic air. Many people have been saying it is a polar vortex. Contrary to what many may think, it is not new it did not develop yesterday. It is not a winter hurricane, and will not hit us. So what is it? Article below and then update about our temperatures.
Here is a good article about it: The polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of the Earth’s poles. It ALWAYS exists near the poles, but weakens in summer and strengthens in winter. The term "vortex" refers to the counter-clockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air near the Poles. Many times during winter in the northern hemisphere, the polar vortex will expand, sending cold air southward with the jet stream (see graphic above). This occurs fairly regularly during wintertime and is often associated with large outbreaks of Arctic air in the United States. The one that occurred January 2014 is similar to many other cold outbreaks that have occurred in the past, including several notable colder outbreaks in 1977, 1982, 1985 and 1989.
There are several things the polar vortex is NOT. Polar vortexes are not something new.
The term “polar vortex” has only recently been popularized, bringing attention to a weather feature that has always been present. It is also not a feature that exists at the Earth’s surface. Weather forecasters examine the polar vortex by looking at conditions tens of thousands of feet up in the atmosphere; however, when we feel extremely cold air from the Arctic regions at Earth’s surface, it is sometimes associated with the polar vortex. This is not confined to the United States. Portions of Europe and Asia also experience cold surges connected to the polar vortex. By itself, the only danger to humans is the magnitude of how cold temperatures will get when the polar vortex expands, sending Arctic air southward into areas that are not typically that cold. (Article taken from NOAA)
Assuming the pattern develops the way the models suggest, what will we see here?
WHAT TO EXPECT HERE: Starting Sunday a major cold front will move through, which will open up the door for arctic cold. Monday highs could struggle to get out of the 20's with many models suggesting lows in the low teens and single digits across the state. This would be a great time to make sure your house is prepared for very cold weather. It appears that temperatures will moderate for a few days before another reinforcing shot of cold air arrives. Cold and below normal pattern with shots of even colder temps looks to be staying for the next couple of weeks into February. Your arctic coats will definitely be needed next week!
Model showing temperatures 15-20 degrees below normal next Monday.
SNOW? This pattern would support snow storms for NC, however, it is hard for NC to get snow even if we have the cold air in place. Many questions about this weekend of possible snowfall we are long ways out but basing on what I have seen this weekends storm will be a rain event for NC. Some mountain snowfall Sunday night be possible so stay tuned. The new pattern would support winter storms for NC, but that's no guarantee.
Bottom-Line: It is about to get really cold after this week and stay for awhile, if you are a snow lover this the pattern you want for NC. Stay tuned for more updates as this is a changing situation!