Thursday, December 18, 2014

Arctic Plunge Redux

Cold shot coming, and this time winter shows signs of lingering.

Arctic Plunge Redux

Doc Cheng bundles up with her chihuahua Happy as she braves  a cold Arctic blast that brought temperatures down to 6 degrees above zero last week. After temperatures reach the mid-40s on Monday, they are due to fall below freezing Monday night and then not get out of the 20s the rest of the workweek. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Doc Cheng bundles up with her chihuahua Happy as she braves a cold Arctic blast that brought temperatures down to 6 degrees above zero last week. After temperatures reach the mid-40s on Monday, they are due to fall below freezing Monday night and then not get out of the 20s the rest of the workweek. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

After reading Alfred Lubrano’s story in Friday’s Inquirer about the endangered funding for a heating program for the elderly , the latest outlooks for next  week are particularly chilling.

Forecasters have shaved off a few degrees and speeded up the timing of the next cold-air invasion.

After temperatures reach the mid-40s on Monday, they are due to fall below freezing Monday night and then not get out of the 20s the rest of the workweek.

AccuWeather says Philly won’t see 20 on Wednesday.

All indications are that the once obscure “polar vortex” is going to get at least 15 more minutes of fame.

As we’ve noted, it’s a swirling mass in the upper atmosphere when the winter sun disappears and typically has two Arctic centers, one near the Baffin Island and the other over Siberia.

Now and then the vortex is nudged far southward and invades the United States with bitter cold, as happened last week, and is poised to do next week.

The vortex is not new. It’s been swirling away for millennia, first appearing in the American Meteorological Society’s glossary 55 years ago.

NBC10 meteorologist Glenn Schwartz said that in the not-so-old days he was advised never to use such a technical term on the air. Times have changed.

What might be different about this particular cold spell is that no truly mild air is on the horizon.

The government’s Climate Prediction Center continues to pain half the country blue in its two-week outlook.

In an outlook he posted Friday afternoon, Dave Tolleris at wxrisk.com called for the cold to persist through the first week in February.

As for snow, nothing big is on the near-term horizon, and be skeptical of anything you hear about the weather for Feb. 2, Super Bowl Sunday, which also happens to be Groundhog Day.

Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
About this blog

Everyone talks about the weather, and here we write about it.

When we’re around and conditions warrant, we’ll keep you updated about what’s coming, but we will do our best always to discuss weather and climate developments in context and remind you that nothing in the atmosphere happens in a vacuum.

Tony Wood has been writing about the atmosphere for The Inquirer for 26 years.

Reach Tony at twood@phillynews.com.

Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
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