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Blast of frigid air may shock southern US this week as snow may fly in a few areas

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
December 06, 2017, 7:44:00 AM EST

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The coldest air of the season so far will sweep into the southern United States and may bring the first snowflakes of the season to a few locations this week.

The first blast of arctic air for the meteorological winter season will focus its worst on the Midwest this week. However, the cold air will still pack a punch as it enters and settles into the South.

People in much of the South will want to have blankets and winter jackets on hand and be prepared to turn on the heat.

SE Wed Dec 5

"Unlike many cool air bursts so far during astronomical autumn, which have only lasted a couple of days, cold air will sweep in and then build," according to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams.

Below-average temperatures may last for two weeks, especially across the interior South.

Compared to the first day or two of this week, temperatures will be slashed by 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit from the southern Plains to the lower Mississippi Valley and much of the Southeast by the middle and latter part of this week.

For example, following a high in the middle 80s on Monday, people in Brownsville, Texas, may have temperature shock by midweek with highs projected to be in the 50s.

South snow

By the end of the week, actual temperatures may be not higher than the 40s in Atlanta and Nashville.

The combination of temperature, humidity, wind, cloud cover and other conditions are likely to cause AccuWeather RealFeel® temperatures to be 10 to 20 degrees lower than the actual temperature.

The colder air will even reach the Florida Peninsula. However, it may take until this weekend before temperatures are slashed by 15 to 25 degrees.

"For many areas of the Deep South, this outbreak of arctic air will bring the first hard freeze of the season," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

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There is a chance that some freezing air will reach down to the central part of the Florida Peninsula by early next week.

AccuWeather meteorologists are closely monitoring where an accompanying storm may sync up the cold air in time to bring snow to some areas or if a chilly rain will fall during the middle to latter part of this week.

Winter will enact its revenge on western Texas into Thursday as enough cold air will be in place for snow and/or sleet to fall.

Texas snow Dec 5

"The most significant amounts of snow and sleet are expected in the higher terrain between Midland and El Paso, Texas," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said. "Slick travel can be expected on interstates 10 and 20 through this region, mainly from later Wednesday into Thursday."

The storm responsible for this wintry weather will then track from the Gulf of Mexico to off the Southeast coast Friday into Saturday.

How much moisture interacts with the cold air will determine whether snow or ice pellets are seen along the I-85 corridor of the South or the chilly rain persists.

Any snow or ice may be light enough just to make an appearance with most roads staying wet.

If the wintry mix falls heavily, there can be an accumulation and slippery travel.

wintry mix

The cold air is likely to last much longer this time around and may be more of a shock due to lower sun angle and the shear magnitude of the arctic air.

Despite the cold shock on the way, only a few records may be set in the week ahead.

Rather than the jet stream making a quick plunge then retreating northward, the southward dip will linger for one to two weeks.

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