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A bitter blast of arctic air will lead to dangerously cold conditions this week across the Northern Rockies, central and northern Plains and the Upper Midwest, with temperatures dropping well below zero and wind chills reaching -50 to -60 degrees in some spots by the end of the week, according to the FOX Forecast Center. 

Subfreezing temperatures will eventually reach as far south as the Gulf Coast as millions across the region will feel their coldest winter-time temperatures in several years. Dangerously cold temperatures will then spread into the Great Lakes and Northeast by the weekend, freezing areas in the wake of what’s expected to be a crippling winter storm with blizzard conditions and the potential for widespread power outages.

“High pressure parked over the Northwest Territories of Canada right now scoops up that cold air form the poles in the Arctic and then pushes it all the way down and into the Northern Rockies, Dakotas and Upper Midwest,” said FOX Weather Meteorologist Steve Bender. “A developing low pressure center over the Great Lakes will then tap into that arctic air and accelerate it down into the Southern Plains.”

Northern Plains may remain below zero for days

The arctic air began its week-long journey by surging south out of Canada over the weekend, and already low temperatures Monday morning were at least -20 or colder across northern Montana – Glasgow had a forecasted low temperature of -24 while -16 was expected in Great Falls. With the winds, wind chills were already around -35 to -40 degrees.

An expansive arctic air mass will invade much of the country this week, making for the coldest Christmas in decades for some parts of the country.
An expansive arctic air mass will invade much of the country this week, making for the coldest Christmas in decades for some parts of the country.

Fox Weather

It’s a sign of the depth of the cold air about to spread across much of the rest of America’s heartland. Wind Chill Warnings and Watches already stretch across much of the Upper Midwest:

Forecast highs for Monday across the Northern Plains were barely in single digits across Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota – Bismarck fell below zero Saturday night and is still not expected to reach zero on Monday – or any day this week.

Bitterly cold temperatures will move south and east over the next few days. On Tuesday, some morning low temperature readings could approach -30 degrees across portions of Montana and North Dakota, with Bismarck hitting a low of -15, Pierre, South Dakota dropping to -10 – and even Minneapolis dropping below zero. 

Denver will “only” drop into the mid-20s, but it’ll feel warm compared to what’s coming later in the week. 

Wednesday morning will see temperatures drop below freezing across much of the Midwest, even stretching as far south as Texas. In the Northern Plains, freezing temperatures will be as far as 50 degrees away with temperatures approaching -20 or colder.  With temperatures that low, frostbite could emerge in as little as 10 minutes.

It’s not just the cold that comes with the arctic front, but a period of snow and gusty wind will spread across the Northern Plains Wednesday afternoon, reaching as far south as Oklahoma and as far east as Michigan by early Thursday. Winds will gust from 30-55 mph, making travel hazardous from Kansas to Wisconsin.

Wind chills drop as low as -60 on Thursday

By Thursday morning, much of the heartland is within the full icy grips of the arctic blast while heavy snows will begin to bury the Great Lakes region.

Morning temperatures will be as cold as -30 in Casper, Wyoming, with -22 likely in Billings, Montana. But sub-zero temperatures will spread far to the south, with a morning low of -12 forecast for Denver, -10 in Omaha, Nebraska, and even -3 in Salina, Kansas. 

Wind Chill Warnings and Watches already stretch across much of the Upper Midwest.
Wind Chill Warnings and Watches already stretch across much of the Upper Midwest.
Fox Weather

Even the inland Pacific Northwest will feel the edge of the arctic blast, with lows in Boise dropping to around 5 degrees and morning temperatures around -10 degrees in Spokane, Washington. 

But as cold as those temperatures seem, the wind chills will border on the absurd for much of the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest. 

Widespread wind chill readings of -40 to even -60 degrees are likely across the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming, with -30 readings in parts of Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and even Denver. Nearly 3 million people are forecast to experience wind chill readings of -40 or colder on Thursday, according to FOX Forecast Center, with nearly 90 million experiencing wind chills below zero.

South goes into the Deep Freeze

After spending days freezing the Midwest, the bitter blast of cold air will surge south and east Thursday into Friday. That will send temperatures tumbling from the southern Plains to the Southeast.

Several locations across the South may not get out of the teens or 20s on Friday, setting records for lowest maximum temperatures.
Several locations across the South may not get out of the teens or 20s on Friday, setting records for lowest maximum temperatures.
Fox Weather

Morning low temperatures Friday morning are expected in the teens and single digits as far south as Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee, according to the FOX Forecast Center, while temperatures will remain in the teens from central Texas to Georgia. Dallas-Fort Worth Airport may dip below 10 degrees Friday. 

“Areas like Oklahoma, Arkansas, northern Texas and northern Louisiana, and the Mississippi Delta, you have to prepared for the cold as well as potential power outages as the wind gusts will be quite strong along with the potential for a freeze,” Bender said.

7 WAYS TO PREVENT FROZEN WATER PIPES IN BITTERLY COLD TEMPERATURES

The chill will likely be some of the coldest readings in at least five years for many areas east of the Mississippi River, and Wind Chill Advisories may be needed all the way to the Gulf Coast. 

Several locations across the South may not get out of the teens or 20s on Friday, setting records for lowest maximum temperatures.



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