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National Weather at 3pm December 18 2004


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Tracking the Canadian invasion

3:00 P.M. ET 12/18/2004


Jonathan Erdman, Sr. Meteorologist, The Weather Channel





A blast of teeth-rattling Arctic air more reminiscent of mid-winter is sweeping through the Midwest this weekend, only days before the official “first day of winter”. While December is typically a cold month in the Upper Midwest, this air mass will grab your attention. Lows tonight will plunge below zero over all of Minnesota and parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, and the Dakotas. Tonight would mark the first subzero reading in the Twin Cities since just after Valentine’s Day. Teens should be common from Kansas City to Chicago to Detroit. Accompanying this cold blast will be winds gusting from 20-40 mph. This will send wind chills to the -20º to 0º range. Remember, exposed skin can freeze in 30 minutes or less when the wind chill is -20º. The aforementioned Arctic front will sweep through much of the Ohio and mid-Mississippi Valleys tonight, ushering in a cold Sunday. Highs will be stuck in the teens in Chicago and Detroit, and will not make it out of the 20s over the rest of the Ohio and mid-Mississippi Valleys. Lake-effect snow will be pronounced through the rest of the weekend in the typical Great Lakes snowbelts, thanks to this cold air intrusion. Some areas of Upper Michigan, northwest Indiana, and northeast Ohio could pile up a foot or more of new snow. This includes the Cleveland metro area, where a burst of snow may fall during the Browns game Sunday afternoon. The good news is that this cold will be short-lived. A warm front will gradually work its way eastward into the northern Plains Sunday and Monday. Highs Sunday will surge into the 50s from the western Dakotas to western Kansas.



Following a fairly calm and tranquil Saturday, a fast-moving cold front will send the mercury downhill on Sunday from the Tennessee Valley to the Gulf Coast. Highs Sunday will struggle to reach the 40s in Atlanta, and hover in the 30s in Memphis. The front should make for a chilly Sunday evening over the northern half of Florida, as temperatures fall into the 40s and 50s. As the core of the cold high pressure system settles over the Southeast Monday, highs will struggle into the low 50s in Orlando and Tampa, and languish in the low 60s in Miami. Winter storm watches are in effect for parts of the southern Appalachians, from North Carolina to the Virginia Panhandle, where several inches of snow may pile up late tonight into Sunday. Winds from 30 to 50 mph near mountain tops may lead to areas of reduced visibility and dangerous travel in the mountains Sunday.



A strong, but fleeting blast of cold air will work its way toward the Northeast by late Sunday into Monday. By Sunday morning, the front should be jumping across the Appalachian crest. Light snow will blanket much of the interior Northeast near the Arctic front. This snow should be of a rather dry, fluffy nature, which is good news for ski resorts from West Virginia to northern New England. Winds will begin picking up in the Urban Corridor by Sunday afternoon as the front slides through. Fortunately, moisture should be fairly scant with this Arctic front, so any precipitation Sunday afternoon or evening should fall as light rain, mixed with or changing to light, non-accumulating snow. New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. may see their first measurable snowfall of the season, albeit of a light variety. As weak low pressure forms offshore of southern New England, some light snow may wrap into eastern New England Sunday night and Monday. Highs will hold in the 20s and 30s from Boston to Washington on Monday, but should spring back into the 50s by Wednesday.



The West’s weather has turned tranquil this weekend. Expansive high pressure took residence in the Great Basin, and the storm track has pointed itself temporarily into Canada. There will only be a small blemish in that rather rosy picture on Sunday. A Pacific frontal system will drag southward into the Pacific Northwest on Sunday. Fortunately, this system is rather moisture-starved, so rainfall from Seattle-Tacoma to Portland should be light. Snow levels will plunge to around 2000 feet in the Washington Cascades by late Sunday, providing a little fresh snowfall for area ski resorts. Morning fog may once again be a pest Sunday in such winter fog-prone areas as California’s Central Valley, the Salt Lake Valley, Idaho’s Snake River Valley, Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and the Washoe Valley of Nevada. Fortunately, this stubborn cloak of fog should dissipate into hazy sun by afternoon. Highs will range from the 40s and 50s in the Pacific Northwest to the 50s and 60s in the warm High Plains to the 70s in the Desert Southwest and Southern California.

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