A mild start to 2023 comes to an end this weekend as winter returns to the Northern Plains and across the Midwestern United States.
Minneapolis residents have experienced a mild January so far, at least by their standards, with temperatures never falling below freezing and averaging about 7 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.
“Dangerously cold temperatures and wind chill are forecast for early next week across the northern plains and upper Midwest,” the Weather Prediction Center said. “Below normal temperatures are expected across the northern/central plains over interior portions of the Pacific Northwest through the weekend and into early next week.”
High temperatures across much of the northern United States will be 25 to 40 degrees below normal in the single digits or even below freezing. Nighttime minimum temperatures will be very cold, resulting in wind chill advisories being issued for parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Montana.
“This will be the coldest weather since Christmas for the region, with maximum temperatures expected to remain below freezing for locations from eastern Montana to northern Minnesota this Saturday through Monday, and perhaps into Tuesday,” the center predicted. Of.
These temperatures may surprise many, as most of January has been very mild. Chicago and Kansas City are seeing temperatures 9 degrees above normal for the month, and Minneapolis and Oklahoma City are at least 6 degrees above normal for January.
The sudden change from mild temperatures to severe cold can take people by surprise.
Bozeman, Montana, for example, will go from a high of 33 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) this Friday to a low of -3 degrees Fahrenheit (-19 degrees Celsius) on Sunday, with more than 40 straight hours below zero. This Friday’s high temperature in Minneapolis will drop from 33°F (0°C) to a high of 3°F (-16°C) this Monday. St. Louis will be mild this Saturday with a high of 56°F (13°C). On Sunday, however, the high temperature will drop to 36°F (2°C) and finally fall to a low of 16°F (-8°C) on Monday night.
Western cities will also see a dramatic drop in temperature. Denver will go from a high of 30°F (-1°C) this Saturday to a high of 7°F (-13 degrees) on Monday.
add some wind, ice and snow
The air temperature isn’t the only concern this weekend. Winds of 20 to 30 mph (30 to 50 km/h) are expected across much of the High Plains and Midwest. While this may not sound like much, it doesn’t take much for frost to occur when the air temperature is already that low.
“Occasionally air temperatures for these areas can reach minus 40 °F (4.4 °C). Ranges from 0 to 10 °F (-17 to -12 °C) in northeastern Colorado and northern Kansas in the south may extend up to 100 km,” said the forecasting centre.
In that range, exposed areas of skin can be frozen in only 10 to 15 minutes.
Another concern of that wind is its effect on snow storms. Snowfall and low visibility will make travel difficult.
“Cold snaps are another snow generator for us this weekend,” said the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of the National Weather Service. “A good period of light to moderate snow will occur across much of southern Wisconsin from this Saturday afternoon through this Saturday night.”
On Friday, winter conditions began affecting travel in parts of the Midwest. A portion of Interstate 39/90 between the Wisconsin cities of Beloit and Janesville was closed Friday afternoon due to a crash involving 85 cars, according to the Wisconsin State Patrol.
Police said at least 21 people were taken to area hospitals with minor injuries.
From this Saturday through this Sunday, snow is expected to spread from the Cascades to the Rocky Mountains and Great Lakes region. Winter Weather Advisory and Winter Storm Warning are in effect for more than 18 million people.
In general, 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) of snow will fall over much of southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and Iowa, although it is difficult to determine who will experience the greatest amount of snow.
“An additional narrow band of 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) of snow with locally higher totals is forecast from northern Iowa to Lower Michigan through Sunday morning,” the forecast center said.
Although snow will be prominent a little further south, along the Iowa-Missouri border, it will be possible to see “a brief period of cool drizzle and a very light coating of snow,” according to the National Weather Service office in Des Moines. Icy cold Saturday afternoon.
There will also be snow in the Intermountain West later this week. Light to moderate snow is expected through Monday across most of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Colorado and northern Utah. However, the heaviest snow will occur in the higher reaches of Wyoming and Colorado, where several feet of snow could accumulate.