Get ready for cold: What to know about the coming arctic blast

Frost forms on a window. (Pixabay)

Current temperatures across the country easily show the cold air that started in Siberia, crossed the North Pole and is now headed toward Texas. “From Russia with Love,” just in time for Valentine’s Day! Like dripping fudge, this shallow, cold air layer will settle in by Sunday morning and stick with us possibly into Wednesday.

Here’s the current USA temp chart:

Current Temps courtesy Tropical Tidbits

Already in Texas we have teens and 20s and a southeast airflow is holding them back from us, but that won’t last forever. The Arctic High will move south toward us this weekend.

When does the cold arrive?

So when does the cold air get HERE and how long does it last? That is, of course, the huge question. The American model has been bullish on the arctic outbreak since Monday, while the European has had a comme-ci-comme-ca attitude. The ICON and CMC models are somewhere in between, so I charted the highs and lows from each model Sunday to Wednesday. You can see for yourself where they land:

Temperatures this Sunday through Wednesday

Not only does the American have a prolonged freezing stretch from Monday morning to Wednesday afternoon, this one drops our temperature to 7° Tuesday morning! Let’s hope for the European, which craters us to 16° but not for a long period and we recover quickly. Why the difference? The European seems to be holding on to that southwest flow I talked about in my blog Monday. Note below the “red” wind area which is a STRONG southwest wind that would mix warmer upper air into the colder surface air:

European warm upper flow

That is an outlier model though and you’ll still have to plan on a very cold Tuesday morning if nothing else. Oh, there is something else -- winter precipitation.

So is it going to snow?

One thing all the models agree on is a Monday winter weather outbreak of a sleet/snow/ice mix. Here’s the aggressive American Model:

Wintry Mix MONDAY, gone by TUESDAY

You can see the mix moving across and if it were ALL snow then it would be a lot. The American model predicts 2-6″ of it for Houston and even has snow all the way to the coast:

American Model snow amounts courtesy Tropical Tidbits

The Canadian drops 2-3″ of snow, while the ICON has just flurries and the European goes with just flurries (1-2″ north of Houston). However, we can’t rule out ice which is a big problem around here.

The models will come into better agreement. We are still five days out from the big blast. But prepare now and protect PEOPLE, PETS, PLANTS and PIPES. My 5th P -- POOLS. A lot of you have them and they’ll need to stay running during this event so they don’t freeze. And drain those sprinkler systems.


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