Of course it’s the Polar Vortex!

courtesy pixabay.com

Climatologist Dr. Judah Cohen points out that Siberia is the world’s ice box and temperatures last week there were running in the MINUS 70s! So if those fast winds at the north pole (the polar vortex) weaken due to some undue warming, then that cold air crosses right over into Canada and the USA. You can get a sense of that happening from the Global temperature forecast here as those purple/white/blue colors---cold air---spill from Russia across the north pole and eventually into Texas!

You can see the blue and purple colors, that cold air, spilling across north pole from Russia. Courtesy tropicaltidbits.com

So the first big question is just how cold will we get? Obviously, that depends on exactly where you are--downtown, the coast, north, west or wherever. Here’s the European Model forecast for Friday Morning and you can see the range:

courtesy weathermodels.com

One very important factor in this is the wind, which will be ferocious. Sustained winds will average 20 mph while gusts could reach 40 mph! A temperature of 18° with a 20 mph wind will produce a wind chill of 2°! And I have blogged before that there is evidence that all sentient beings (our dogs, cats, and horses to name a few) can feel these effects of wind chill so make sure they are protected this weekend, especially Friday! A link to the National Weather Service Wind Chill Calculator is right here.

Speaking of the whole weekend, there is a warming trend, but it doesn’t really kick in much until Christmas afternoon! I put together a table for you of the different model forecasts: American, European, German (ICON) and Canadian, along with the National Weather Service Houston numbers. That chart is below but keep in mind that it’s based off Bush/IAH:

These numbers will change but not much!

To give you an idea of how varied the temperatures will be, here’s another graphic from the National Weather Service Houston showing 11° at Livingston, 17° in Houston and 22° at the coast:

NWS Houston graphical forecast for Friday morning

The good news is that we do not have ice/snow in the forecast, and we’ll emerge from this cold snap Monday afternoon. In fact, a warm New Year’s is in the offing and Dr. Cohen advises that we do start 2023 on the mild side.

Protect yourself!


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About the Author:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with four decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.