More Cold, High Heating Bills Coming for Midwest, Northeast

January 28, 2011; 6:18 AM ET
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Play video For more expert analysis on the break from the cold the Midwest and East are getting and how long that will last, click on this video.

We have been warning about it for weeks now: colder-than-normal weather holding strong from the northern Plains into the East through at least the middle of February.

Temperatures in cities from Minneapolis and Chicago to Boston, New York City, Atlanta, New Orleans and even Miami have averaged below normal since Dec. 1, 2010. This trend is expected to continue for much of this area next week and the week after.

Of the many problems that result from extreme cold, one of the most widespread and significant impacts for residents will likely be more hits to their pocketbooks with high heating bills.

Rounds of travel-disrupting snow are also on the way for the regions.

The upcoming cold is exactly what Chief Long Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi has been calling for in his Rest of the Winter Forecast. He maintains that this winter is likely to be the coldest for the nation as a whole since the 1980s.

Following the brief rebound in temperatures that has taken place from the Midwest to the East this week, more of what many people would consider "irritatingly cold" weather will return starting this weekend.

Temperatures will plummet below zero again across the Upper Midwest this weekend with winds making it feel even colder. Minneapolis will have lows below zero once again, while temperatures potentially fail to rise above zero in Fargo during the day Sunday and Monday.

"The icebox places of northern Minnesota could hit 38° F below zero Sunday night," said Expert Senior Meteorologist John Kocet. "I'm pretty confident about that."

In the Northeast, the cold air will start seeping in Sunday, bringing widespread highs in the teens and 20s back to the region through at least the early part of next week. In northern New England, highs will end up in the single digits, while temperatures drop below zero at night.

While temperatures may rebound slightly in the Northeast after this first cold shot, more arctic air is on the way later next week and the week that follows.

Long-range temperatures (more than 5-7 days out) in local forecasts need to be taken with a grain of salt. These temperatures are based largely on computer models, which have a difficult time catching extreme cold in the lowest levels of the atmosphere.

The overall weather pattern leading to the persistent cold in the Midwest and East consists of the jet stream being positioned well north over western North America and well south farther east. This type of pattern allows arctic air building over northwestern Canada to flow straight into the eastern portion of the U.S.


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