‘Dangerous’ arctic cold returns this weekend to the US after a month-long hiatus

(CNN) — What has been a mild start to 2023 will end this weekend as winter returns in force across the Northern Plains and Midwestern United States.

Minneapolis residents have experienced a mild January so far, at least by their standards, with temperatures not dipping below freezing and averaging about 7 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.

“Dangerously cold temperatures and wind chill are forecast across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest through early next week,” the Weather Prediction Center said. “Well below normal temperatures are expected across the central/northern Plains to the inland parts of the Pacific Northwest through the weekend and into early next week.”

High temperatures will be in the single digits or even below freezing across much of the northern United States, 25 to 40 degrees below normal. Overnight lows will be very cold, resulting in wind chill advisories being issued in various parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Montana.

“This would be the coldest weather since Christmas for this region, with places from eastern Montana to northern Minnesota likely to remain below freezing for maximum temperatures this Saturday through Monday, and perhaps into Tuesday,” the center said. of prediction.

These temperatures may surprise many, as most of January has been very mild. Chicago and Kansas City are seeing more than 9 degrees above normal for the month, and Minneapolis and Oklahoma City at least 6 degrees above normal in January.

The abrupt change from mild temperatures to bitter cold can catch people off guard.

Bozeman, Montana, for example, will go from a high of 33 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) this Friday to a high of -3°F (-19°C) on Sunday, with more than 40 straight hours below zero. Minneapolis will see a high of 33°F (0°C) this Friday plummet to a high of 3°F (-16°C) this Monday. St. Louis will remain milder this Saturday, with a high of 56°F (13°C). On Sunday, however, the high will drop to 36°F (2°C) and will finally hit a low of 16°F (-8°C) on Monday night.

Western cities will also witness dramatic drops in temperatures. Denver will go from a high of 30°F (-1°C) this Saturday to a high of 7°F (-13 degrees) on Monday.

Add some wind, snow and ice

Air temperatures are not the only concern this weekend. Wind gusts to 20 to 30 mph (30 to 50 km/h) will be expected across much of the High Plains and Midwest. While that may not sound like much, it doesn’t take much for frost when the air temperature is already so low.

“The wind chill could reach 40°F (4.4°C) below zero at times for these areas. Highs in the 0 to 10°F (-17 to -12°C) range may extend south into northeastern Colorado and northern Kansas,” the prediction center said.

In that range, exposed areas of skin can be frozen in just 10 to 15 minutes.

Another concern of that wind is its impact on snow storms. Blowing snow and reduced visibility will make travel difficult.

“Cold snaps are another snow generator for us this weekend,” the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of the National Weather Service said. “There will be a good period of light to moderate snow across much of southern Wisconsin from noon this Saturday through this Saturday night.”

Winter conditions began to affect travel in parts of the Midwest on Friday. A portion of Interstate 39/90 between the Wisconsin cities of Beloit and Janesville was closed due to a crash involving 85 cars Friday afternoon, according to the WIsconsin State Patrol.

At least 21 people were taken to area hospitals for minor injuries, police said.

A man walks his dog in Humboldt Park, Chicago, Illinois on January 25, 2023. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A man walks his dog in Humboldt Park, Chicago, Illinois on January 25, 2023. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

From this Saturday through this Sunday, snow is expected to stretch from the Cascades to the Rocky Mountains and the Great Lakes region. Winter Weather Advisories and Winter Storm Warnings have been implemented for more than 18 million people.

Generally speaking, southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and much of Iowa will see 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of snow, although it is difficult to determine who will experience the greatest amounts of snow.

“An additional narrow band of 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) of snow, with locally higher totals, is forecast from northern Iowa to Lower Michigan by early Sunday morning,” the forecast center said.

Although the snow will be predominant a little further south, along the Iowa-Missouri border, according to the National Weather Service office in Des Moines, it will be possible to see “a brief period of freezing drizzle and a very light coating of snow” ice cold this Saturday afternoon.

Snow will also fall this weekend at Intermountain West. Most areas of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Colorado and northern Utah will see light to moderate snowfall through Monday. However, the heaviest snow will occur in the higher elevations of Wyoming and Colorado, where several feet of snow may accumulate.

CNN’s Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.

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