The coldest air in a couple of years will continue to infiltrate part of the Northeast during the first week of January 2013.
The cold push from the Arctic is coming in stages during the first week or so of 2013.
During a couple of episodes the cold flow could rival low temperatures achieved during all of the winters of 2011-12 and 2010-11 for part of southeastern Canada and northern New England.
Temperatures were heading below zero (Fahrenheit) Wednesday night in northern upstate New York, northern New England and neighboring Canada.
**Lows Thursday morning in upstate New York included minus 5° in Albany, minus 18° in Glens Falls and minus 24° in Massena.
A second cold night may follow Saturday or Sunday night, in between weak storm systems, known as Alberta Clippers.
Two channels of cold air will drive southeastward from northern Canada.
One channel will deliver solid cold, typical of average or below-average temperatures from the northern Plains to the central Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic. This air will also be modified by the open, relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes through the first week of 2013. Downwind and south and east of the Great Lakes, temperatures will fall short of the benchmark lows in most locations.
A second channel, containing the coldest air may slip in between the Great Lakes and south of Hudson Bay, aiming for northern upstate New York, New England and southeastern Canada through the first weekend of 2013.
It is in this area where benchmark low temperatures have the greatest chance to be reached. Temperatures will drop below zero Fahrenheit over most of northern New England, southern Quebec and north or Lake Ontario in Ontario Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Another temperature-bottoming episode is possible Saturday or Sunday night.
The air mass is not likely to support new benchmark low daytime high temperatures throughout the region. However, nighttime lows are on the bubble from northern New England and northern upstate New York northward through Quebec. The temperature dipped to minus 10° Thursday morning in Burlington, Vt. and just missed equaling last winter's lowest temperature.
Fresh snow cover over much of the Midwest, Northeast and southeastern Canada will work to help preserve the cold air. Much of New England and neighboring Canada now have a deep snow cover.
Cloud cover produced by the Great Lakes and weak disturbances will work against the severe cold at night in downwind areas from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic. Clouds tend to act as a blanket, reflecting the escaping warmth back down to the surface.
Where winds drop off and the sky stays clear much of the night farther north, temperatures will fall into the abyss.
Regardless of whether or not temperatures plummet at night, the sustained cold will allow some ski resorts in the region to make snow around the clock.
The resorts will need to build their base of snow to weather a major warmup aiming for week two of January.
While seasoned-veteran residents in the region may not think much of the cold weather in January, it will have some shock value for some folks given how warm recent winters have been.
Sustained cold weather or arctic outbreaks are very hard on the elderly, homeless and those with respiratory problems.
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