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Waves of arctic air to freeze the eastern US into Valentine's Day

By By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist.
February 10, 2016, 7:40:32 AM EST

Waves of arctic air invading the eastern half of the United States this week will culminate with the coldest weather and most dangerous conditions of the winter season so far for some areas by Valentine's Day weekend.

The jet stream will take a big southward plunge into the Eastern states and will allow progressively colder weather to expand through the week.

The worst of the cold air will focus on the Midwest during the first part of the week before spilling southward and eastward.


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Mid-winter cold to grip Midwest most of week

The combination of gusty winds, cold air and other factors will cause AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures to plunge well below zero degrees Fahrenheit in areas including around the cities of Minneapolis and Chicago.

The wind and cold will be joined by snow showers during the first couple days of the week.

According to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun, "The arctic air will cause bands of heavy snow to develop and shift downwind of the Great Lakes through the week and into the upcoming weekend."

The frigid air with near or subzero RealFeel® Temperatures will spread to the Ohio Valley and central Appalachians during the middle of the week. Those not properly dressed will run the risk of frostbite and/or hypothermia.

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People from Cincinnati to Nashville, Atlanta and Pittsburgh will be reaching for the heaviest winter gear on hand to keep warm. Be sure to layer your clothes to help maintain body heat while waiting for the bus or the train.

The cold waves will have a direct path from the northern Plains to the Deep South through much of the week. Only since the source of this air is not as cold as that of January, temperatures will stop a few degrees shy of their lowest levels so far this winter.

However, a second plunge of arctic air this weekend is likely to be colder than the first and could rival the lowest temperatures of the winter thus far over the North Central states.


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Cold plunge to penetrate the South

Through Thursday, freezing temperatures at night will dip into the Deep South, including as far south as part of north-central Florida.

The penetrating cold can cause exposed pipes to freeze at night from Mississippi to Georgia and the Carolinas.

This will be a glancing blow for a Florida freeze concern, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dale Mohler.

"Temperatures low enough to cause damage in the citrus growing areas of Florida are not likely," Mohler said.

"Temperatures could get low enough over unprotected fields of berry fruits and vegetables of north-central Florida to cause spotty, minor damage north of Orlando."

Worst of cold air to hit the East this weekend

Aside from Florida, the lowest temperatures of the season are likely from Maine to the Carolinas and northern Georgia this weekend.

The cold air will have to take the long way into the mid-Atlantic coast and New England through Thursday.

Even though the cold air will be less extreme in the Northeast, when compared to the Midwest through Wednesday, it will be cold enough for rounds of snow and slippery travel.

However, during the latter part of the week and into the weekend, a large part of the arctic air will have a more direct, southward route into the Eastern states. In addition, the starting point of the cold air will be as cold or colder than outbreaks thus far.


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According to AccuWeather Meteorologist Edward Vallee, "The coldest air of the season will invade the Interstate 95 corridor and Appalachians late this week and into Valentine’s Day weekend."

A couple of waves of frigid air will be able to plunge southward from eastern Canada, without having to pass over the relatively warm, open waters of the Great Lakes.

"High temperatures in the I-95 mid-Atlantic will struggle to reach the lower 20s by Sunday and may not reach 10 over the interior," Vallee said. "Low temperatures will likely be in the single digits and could dip below zero over the interior, perhaps challenging records."

The combination of wind, cold air and other conditions will likely make the arctic outbreaks through this weekend the most dangerous of the winter for the homeless and those not properly dressed when venturing outdoors.

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