As we ushered in the New Year fairly cold temperatures greeted us this morning. Some of our East Central locations dropped to near 20 degrees this morning. But, if the long term forecast models we use to peek into the future are right, 20 degrees could feel balmy by the middle of January. It appears the upper level wind pattern will become favorable for an arctic outbreak to invade the country during the second and third week of January as the jet stream will surge north into northern Alaska and then plunge south across the continental United States. This is the same upper air pattern that tapped very cold air from the Arctic bringing the coldest air in over ten years to East Texas last January.
Now a lot can change between now and then with this forecast being over 10 days out but, right now it looks as though two chunks of arctic air will invade the country; one around the 10th and the second around the 17th of January. The first air mass appears to be much below normal and if it does move into East Texas we would see lows in the teens and highs in the 30s. This is not quite as could as last January but it is well below normal.
The second chunk of arctic air is being advertised right now as some of the coldest air seen in years. If, and this is a big if, this does occur, this could very well be the coldest air mass parts of the country has seen this new Millennium. The current forecast surface temperatures for Monday morning the 17th place the 0 degree line south of I-20 meaning much of East Texas would be below zero.
This would smash records for that date which are in the lower and middle teens and would come close to setting all time record lows for January.
Now with that said, I seriously doubt we will see temperatures as cold as advertised. We typically see long range forecast models producing extremely cold air this far out. I will say I have not seen it advertised this cold before this far south. Before we hit the lower teens in most areas last January our long range forecast models were advertising temperatures dropping to near zero. So based on what happened last year it is logical to think temperatures between 8 and 12 degrees could occur with this outbreak.
Again, this all depends on the eventual placement of the jet stream. If the upper air pattern changes, the cold air could be forced farther east and miss our area of the country. Or it could remain locked in Canada. Only time will tell. But based on the information available to us right now, it does appear some very cold air will move into the area the second and third week of this month. Stay tuned!