Arctic Air Outbreak to Reach Deep Into Southern U.S.

Posted: March 17, 2023 10:56 am

The last weekend of winter will certainly feel like it across the central and eastern portions of the U.S. as a blast of Arctic air invades the region. It will not feel like spring is on the way as the cold air mass drops as far as South Texas in the coming days. Here is what you need to know about this dramatic change in the weather.

Arctic Air Outbreak to Impact Millions of Americans This Weekend

It was been a relatively mild winter for the nation’s heartland and the East Coast. However, this moderate weather is not necessarily translating to an early start to spring.

Many of the country’s biggest cities will be impacted by this frigid air outbreak. For instance, New York City will see overnight lows this weekend that likely reach the freezing mark. Daytime highs on Sunday will top out at about 40 degrees.

It will be even colder in Chicago. The high on Saturday for the Windy City will struggle to hit the freezing threshold, barely rebounding from lows in the teens to start the day. This is a big change from the historical average high of about 48 degrees and a normal low around 32 degrees.

Windy conditions will make it feel even chillier across the region. Gusts will hit between 40 and 60 mph in some parts of the Great Lakes. This will send the real feel readings up to 20 degrees lower than what the mercury indicates.

Lake Effect Snow and Squalls a Good Possibility

There is also a good chance of lake effect snow firing up around the Great Lakes. The unseasonably warm winter has melted most of the ice on the lakes. In a normal year, the lakes have about 30% to 40% of ice coverage by the official start of spring. The latest reports indicate that there is less than 10% ice coverage across the lakes.

This lack of ice makes it more likely that the lake effect snow machine will get going as the cold air dips down from Canada. This weather pattern will also raise the risk of potentially dangerous snow squalls. These squalls are particularly dangerous for motorists as the snow can come on quickly and with great intensity.

The worst of the snow will fall in an area from Michigan into New York state on Saturday. The squalls could impact long stretches of interstates 69, 75, 94, 96, 81, 86, 90, and 196. Be sure to be aware of the potential of snow squalls if headed out on the roads in this region.

Cold Air to Extend Into the Deep South

The invasion of cold air will not be limited to the northern half of the nation. The bitterly cold temperatures will drop into the Deep South, impacting cities such as Atlanta and Houston. For example, Houston will hang out in the 50s for highs this weekend. This is significant as these readings are more indicative of typical lows for this time of the year.

Overnight lows in Atlanta will drop to around the freezing mark on Saturday and Sunday. Large portions of the central, southern, and northeastern U.S. will also be under the threat of a hard freeze throughout the weekend.

Snow may also be a possibility in the Big Bend portion of Texas in the coming days. Temperatures in southern New Mexico and western and southern Texas will hit 25 – 50 degrees below average for the middle of March. Some daily records may fall as overnight temperatures plummet into the upper 30s as far as South Texas.

It will also be unseasonably cold in Dallas. Temperatures will drop into the 30s after the sun goes down this weekend. The daytime high on Sunday may not even crack the 50-degree threshold.

What About the Extended Forecast?

You can expect the mercury to start to climb again at the beginning of the week. Some areas that experienced the bitter cold may actually see readings that inch above average by the end of the week.

The Upper Midwest and New England may be slower to warm up. This is because existing snow on the ground will hinder the ability of the temperatures to move upward.

The long-range forecast is calling for a more active storm track in the coming weeks. The Southeast and the southern Plains will be under the gun for more rounds of storms as the moist and warm air from the Gulf of Mexico continues to influence the weather pattern into this region. This will be in contrast to the Northeast, a region that is predicted to see cold air linger into April and early May.

Forecasters are also warning that the north-central U.S., New England, and Southern California will be at an increased risk of flooding as the deep snowpack starts to melt with the warming temperatures.

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