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An arctic air mass generated by a moderate-strength stratospheric warming event over northern North America gathers in central Canada this weekend and is poised to travel southward into the U.S. bringing one of the coldest late December/early January regimes in recent memory (2nd or 3rd coldest of the past 10 years). 

Beginning Sunday an arctic air mass eases into Montana and North Dakota surging rapidly southward to western Kansas northeastward across Minnesota by Christmas afternoon. Along the boundary of the air mass a widespread area of snow affects the central Great Plains. Next Tuesday the air mass surges into northwest Texas and eastward across the Great Lakes. By next Wednesday morning the arctic front rests from northern Texas to the Tennessee Valley to central New England.

Temperature departures from normal by Wednesday morning are 10-20 degrees below normal immediately behind the arctic boundary to 35-45 below normal in south-central Canada. Next Wednesday morning the zero line is through Chicago and Detroit. Temperatures are 30-40 below zero in parts of Manitoba to Ontario.

An area of precipitation stretches across the Southeast U.S./Gulf region mid-next week and the northern periphery is likely a wintery mix from the southern Tennessee border to the Carolinas. This storm should push eastward with limited development. Another wave of low pressure follows this time combining with an upper trough producing several in. of snow over the Ohio Valley. Next Friday into Saturday a Northeast U.S. coastal storm dumps 6-12 in. of snow on NY/NYC/LI to Boston. More arctic air will follow next weekend.

Another arctic air mass surges into the northern U.S. on New Year’s Day clashing with warmth lingering over the southern U.S. likely producing an elongated wintery storm track causing deep snows to occur from the central Plains to the Northeast Corridor. The snows will strengthen the intensity of the cold north of the storm track and cause a large portion of the high demand energy areas to accumulate usage of energy to heat businesses and homes. Into early January will be the second or third coldest start to a New Year of the past 10 yers.