A One-Two Polar Punch
After a brief spell of snow on Friday with sub-freezing temperatures, we enjoyed a remarkably mild weekend, making that wintry weather a distant memory. As we move into the work week though, a series of cold fronts are going to send us searching for our heavy coats again. The coldest air of the season is coming to Green Country.
Our first cold front arrives Monday morning bringing a gusty north wind, a brief period of showers and temperatures falling from the 40s into the 20s. If we see any meaningful moisture, it will likely come in the form of light rain or drizzle following the passage of the front mid to late morning. The Rain Zone Map above shows the lackluster chances for this. We can’t rule out that a few sleet pellets or snowflakes mix with the rain, mainly near the Arkansas line. All of the precipitation should be well over by the time those readings dip below 32° by early Monday evening.
The bigger issue will be the plunging wind chill values down into the teens by late afternoon and possibly the single digits Monday night. That’s cold wave number 1. While that front is definitely a cold one, it is a fairly run-of-the-mill temperature change by late January standards.
Tuesday will offer a brief respite from the bitter cold. A westerly, down-sloping wind will thermodynamically warm us back into the 40s that afternoon. Up to our north, however, a chunk of truly polar air will be racing southward. The infamous “Polar Vortex” is the reason as the jet stream circulation dips unusually far south with a potent pull of Arctic air. Its arrival to Oklahoma comes Tuesday night, sending our temperatures solidly below freezing for a solid 40 hours. It will also send our wind chill down to 0° or below into Wednesday, our coldest day of the week. High temperatures will struggle to rise into the 20s that day, which is pretty amazing considering we will have sunshine and no snow on the ground. Just imagine if this Arctic air was more than grazing Green Country.
Our friends to the north across the Upper Midwest will truly be facing some of the coldest air in DECADES. Actual temperatures will dip into the -20s and -30s. The wind chill could drop to a mind-numbing 60° BELOW zero in Minnesota. That type of cold will effectively shut down that region aside from essential activities. Remember, -60° is over 90° colder than the freezing mark! This second polar punch will be a knock-out for much of the U.S.
The one thing this cold air mass will lack is moisture for us. Aside from the brief showers possible Monday, we are dry until the end of the week. Unfortunately, this cold comes without the satisfaction of a little snow.
After we deal with our near 0° wind chill and lows in the teens midweek, we are set for a major warming trend. Just like a slingshot, our temperatures will soar all the faster after dropping so far. That is the benefit to being on the southern fringe of the Arctic air mass. By the weekend, we may have 60s on our thermometers. While that sounds incredibly nice (and well-timed for those weekend warriors), it may come with some rain. A wetter than normal pattern likely returns this weekend into the following week as a trough digs into the west, pumping significant Gulf moisture into Oklahoma and storm systems to trigger the rain. This also keeps us locked into a milder pattern keeping us void of wintry weather as we move through the first week or two of February.