Arctic express to deliver cold air, wintry weather in eastern US starting later this week

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
December 03, 2017, 9:21:38 AM EST


As the arctic express prepares to plunge into the Upper Midwest, much colder air will also make its way into the eastern United States later this week.

While the upcoming weather pattern will focus the worst of the harsh cold over the Midwest, the coldest air of the season so far will reach much of the Eastern states prior to mid-December.

Warmup to precede cold waves into early this week

Temperatures will once again climb over the next few days in the Eastern states as the atmosphere prepares to change gears into a winterlike pattern.

Early week Dec 2


"The dramatic change in temperature will be boosted by not only the cold air coming in, but also the warmth that builds ahead of the cold air early this week," according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

While the Midwest and South turn milder earlier in the week, it will take until Tuesday for temperatures to rise across New England and the mid-Atlantic.

Temperatures are expected to soar back into the 60s from New York City to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

"Temperatures will return back into the 50s from Providence, Rhode Island, to Boston to Portland, Maine, but the warmest time period may actually be Tuesday night into Wednesday morning before the passage of a cold front sends temperatures plunging," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.

Colder weather is inevitable

"Energy demands will increase substantially as the week progresses due to the change to much colder weather," Pastelok said.

While colder, wintry weather may spur people to shop for winter gear and holiday gifts, the mild weather into the first part of this week will make it easy to get out, decorate and shop for holiday items.

The first round of colder air will have a direct route into the North Central states behind a potent storm early this week. However, along the Atlantic Seaboard, the forward progress of the cold air will slow down, especially across the Southeastern states.

12/2 cold air timing


The leading edge of the colder air is projected to reach the central and northern Appalachians on Tuesday. New England will face colder weather on Wednesday, but it may take until the end of the week to turn chilly across the Florida Peninsula.

In much of the East, temperatures are forecast to be slashed by 15-30 degrees by the end of the week. Highs are likely to be in the lower 40s in Philadelphia, the lower 50s in Atlanta and the middle 60s in Orlando, Florida.

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Some areas will experience steady rain along the leading edge of colder air, while others may only receive a few sprinkles. However, rain may end as a bit of snow over the higher elevations of the central and northern Appalachians Tuesday afternoon and evening.

Cold to trigger heavy lake-effect snow

The air will get plenty cold enough to start the lake-effect snow machine as this week progresses.

Weather patterns like this in the past have produced blinding snow squalls, delivered feet of snow and shut down travel where bands of lake-effect have persisted. These conditions may develop later this week and continue through the middle of December.

AccuWeather will provide updates on the nature and orientation of the lake-effect snow bands as the pattern evolves during the first week of December.

Waves of arctic air to follow during second week of December

True arctic air is likely to wait until second week of December to reach much of the eastern U.S.

"During the week of Dec. 7-13, the arctic express will be running full throttle and should be able to send rounds of cold air from northern Canada to not only the Midwest, but also much of the Northeast and South," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

Static Arctic Blasts


"Intense cold may settle over the northern Plains to the eastern slopes of the Rockies from Dec. 11-15," Pastelok said.

Once the cold weather pattern gets rolling, it may stay cold through the middle of the month in the Northeast.

"However, there is some indication of the cold air retreating during the week leading up to Christmas," Pastelok said.

In between rounds of arctic air, wintry storms may come calling

The jet stream pattern will hold the key as to whether moisture-rich storms can strengthen and sweep northeastward from the South Central states with rain and snow or remain weak and drift eastward across the Gulf of Mexico with spotty showers.

The jet stream is a high-speed river of air at the level where jets cruise. The jet stream provides a highway for storms and cold air to take.

Even if a northwesterly flow persists with the jet stream, Alberta Clipper storms may bring quick episodes of light snow into part of the Northeast.

Should major storms come calling, brief warmups would occur over the Southeastern states along with the potential for severe weather.

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