Dangerous cold air this weekend as temperatures plummet


2023 gets off to a mild start this weekend as winter returns across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest.

Minneapolis residents have seen a mild January so far — at least by their standards — with temperatures dipping below zero this month and averaging about 7 degrees above normal.

“Dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills are forecast across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest early next week,” the Climate Prediction Center said. “Expect well below normal temperatures across the central/northern Plains to interior parts of the Pacific Northwest for the weekend into early next week.”

High temperatures will be in the single digit or even subzero range across much of the northern tier of the United States – 25 to 40 degrees below normal. Overnight lows will be very frigid, prompting wind chill advisories to be issued for parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Montana.

“This is the coldest weather since Christmas for this region, and locations from eastern Montana to northern Minnesota will likely remain below zero for highs Saturday through Monday, and possibly into Tuesday,” said the t -prediction center.

These temperatures may come as a shock to many since most of January was so mild. Both Chicago and Kansas City are running more than 9 degrees above normal for the month, while Minneapolis and Oklahoma City are running at least 6 degrees above normal for January.

The dramatic change from a mild temperature to a bitter cold can leave people vulnerable.

Bozeman, Montana, for example, will go from a high of 33 degrees on Friday to a high of -3 on Sunday – with more than 40 hours just below zero. Minneapolis will see a high of 33 degrees on Friday dropping to a high of 3 degrees on Monday. St. Louis will remain milder on Saturday, with a high temperature of 56. On Sunday, however, the high will drop to 36 degrees and finally reach a low of 16 degrees on Monday night.

There will also be a big drop in Western cities. Denver will go from a high of 30 degrees on Saturday to a high of 7 degrees on Monday.

Air temperatures are not the only concern this weekend. Across much of the High Plains and Midwest, winds will gust 20 to 30 mph. While that may not seem like much, it doesn’t take much for frostbite to set in when the air temperature is already that cold.

“The wind chill could reach 40 below at times in these areas. Highs in the 0 to 10 degree range may extend as far south as northeastern Colorado and northern Kansas,” the forecast center said.

At that range, exposed areas of skin can experience frostbite in just 10 to 15 minutes.

Another concern related to that wind is its effect on blizzards. Blowing snow and reduced visibility can make travel difficult at times.

“The high-level wave train has another snowmaker for us this weekend,” said the National Weather Service office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “There will be a good period of light to moderate snow for much of southern Wisconsin from noon Saturday through Saturday evening.”

Winter conditions began affecting travel in parts of the Midwest on Friday. An 85-car pileup closed part of Interstate 39/90 between the Wisconsin cities of Beloit and Janesville Friday afternoon, according to the Wisconsin State Patrol.

At least 21 people were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

From Saturday through Sunday, snow is expected to spread from the Cascades to the Rockies and into the Great Lakes region. Winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings are in effect for over 18 million people.

In general, southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and much of Iowa will see between 2 and 4 inches of snow, although these quick but intense snow burst events can be difficult to pinpoint who will see the highest snow amounts..

“An additional narrow range of 4-6” of snow, with locally higher totals, is forecast from northern Iowa through Lower Michigan early Sunday,” the forecast center said.

While most of the snow will be a little further south, along the Iowa/Missouri border, according to the National Weather Service office in Des Moines, the office warns that “a brief period of freezing fog and extreme glazing will be possible light to see. Saturday afternoon ice.”

Snow will also fall this weekend across the Intermountain West. Most areas of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Colorado and northern Utah will see light to moderate snow through Monday. However, the heaviest snow will occur in the higher elevations of Wyoming and Colorado where multiple feet of snow is possible.


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