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National Weather at 150am December 21 2004


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Winter arrives today

1:52 A.M. ET 12/21/2004


Matthew Newman, Sr. Meteorologist, The Weather Channel




Just as the region begins to recover from the last arctic blast, the next one is already overspreading the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest with more bitter cold air. Temperature across parts of North Dakota and northern Minnesota will not rise above zero today. This colder air will continue spreading south and east behind the arctic cold front and locations from Minneapolis to Omaha will see falling temperatures today. The air ahead of the front will remain mild with readings actually expected to top out a few degrees above average from the Ohio Valley to the mid-Mississippi Valley. These areas will see the bottom drop out once again into Wednesday and Thursday. This will also cause the lake-effect snow machine to crank back up. Meanwhile, only light snow should fall today across the Great Lakes as a weakening storm works through. The remainder of the region should experience partly cloudy skies. High will range from the sub-zero readings across the Northern Plains to the mild 40s and 50s from the mid-Mississippi Valley to the Ohio Valley. The next storm to target the region will take shape near the lower Mississippi Valley over the next few days and could threaten areas from the mid-Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley with snow. Winter storm watches are posted from southern Missouri to Indiana.



Most of the Southeast will recover today from the blast of frigid air as readings warm back up to levels more typical for this time of the year. In fact, the Southern Plains and lower Mississippi Valley will experience readings some 5 to 10 degrees above seasonal averages. The bad news is that this weather will not last as the arctic air now invading the Midwest overspreads the region over the next few days. To make matter worse, a developing storm system over the lower Mississippi Valley promises to deliver everything from severe weather to even snow. Showers should first begin developing late today across eastern Texas and Louisiana as moisture begins to lift out of the Gulf of Mexico. Severe storms may also develop overnight and spread eastward on Wednesday. As the moisture encounters the cold air spilling southward, snow could develop as far south as Arkansas and Tennessee where winter storm watches have been raised.



While the region will be begin the day with some of the coldest air since last winter, afternoon temperatures will rebound. Highs this afternoon will range from the 20s across Northern New England to the 40s from the Ohio Valley to the Mid-Atlantic. High pressure will result in generally partly cloudy skies. A few snow showers are possible across the Great Lakes as a weakening storm system pushes through. A more significant warm-up is in store for Wednesday and Thursday with highs topping out well into the 50s across parts of New England and 60s across the Mid-Atlantic. The next arctic blast will arrive in time for the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.



Valley fog will again lower visibilities from the valleys of California through the Great Basin today as a ridge of high pressure remains parked over the Pacific. A disturbance dropping southward out of Canada on the eastern side of the ridge will cause some snow to fall along the Northern Rockies. In addition, another upper-level disturbance will cause some rain and snow showers to develop along the Southern Rockies. Otherwise, dry and partly cloudy to mostly sunny conditions should prevail. Highs will range from the 40s across the Pacific Northwest to the 60s across the Southern California and the Southwest.

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