Far-Reaching Brutal Cold Slap to Kick Off 2012

December 31, 2011; 10:43 AM ET
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Fresh for the new year, an arctic blast will pack more than a little slap for tens of millions who have grown used to blissful temperatures in recent months.

The cold wave spreading from the Plains to the East is not even in the same ballpark as the coldest ever, but it will bring a quick change to the coldest weather of the season so far, factoring in strong winds with the arctic air.

Temperatures on either side of a strong cold front will differ by 30 degrees in some areas. In some areas around the Ohio River, temperatures will peak near 50 one day, then in the 20s the next.

At the height of the cold wave, AccuWeather.com RealFeel® temperatures will plummet below zero across the northern Plains and Upper Midwest. These temperatures will be as cold as the single digits and teens on Tuesday across the Northeast.

The wind will feel nasty and the gusts will border on damaging velocities in open areas and between buildings. Gusts for a time can reach 50 mph!

Along the downwind shores of the Great Lakes, in addition to the bands of heavy lake-effect snow, waves crashing in will deposit water on roads and walkways. Given the magnitude of the low temperatures, this water will freeze.

The cold air will be roaring into Chicago close to the first minutes of the new year.

By 6:00 a.m. EST Sunday, the arctic air will be driving into Detroit and Cincinnati, then on to Buffalo and Pittsburgh at midday.

The arctic front is due to arrive during the afternoon hours from New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., then on to Boston during the evening. So it will be relatively warm for New Year's Eve revelers in these cities. Winds could become an issue for the latter part of the Mummers Parade in Philly during New Year's Day which runs into the early evening.

Much cooler air will also settle in across the South from Texas to Florida and the Carolinas. A substantial cooling trend on the order of 15 to 20 degrees will occur in many areas New Year's Day into Tuesday, compared to highs today.

Dallas will go from highs in the 70s today to highs in the 50s most days from New Year's Day to Tuesday.

In Atlanta, highs will be in the 40s Monday and Tuesday.

The core of the chill will reach Orlando Monday night and Tuesday.

While the cold wave will bring some of the longest-lasting winter conditions of the season so far, winter will again fail to lock in.

Over the Plains and the Ohio Valley, the cold wave will last several days. However, over the Northeast, the cold will tend to stick around through much of next week. (Make sure you have enough fuel oil and propane to get through the cold snap).

Warmth will return to the Plains during the middle and latter part of next week but will not filter into the Northeast until next weekend.

For you weather weenies, the pattern is still transient, just with longer wavelengths.

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