Monday, February 16, 2015

Chicago, Milwaukee Bracing for Severe Arctic Cold

Midwestern cities such as Chicago and Milwaukee are bracing for cold that could drop temperatures well into the double-digit negatives. This sort of cold has been seen recently east of Lake Michigan, but will make its first appearance of the month in more western regions this workweek.

Tropical Tidbits
Click images to enlarge
The above image shows the latest GFS model forecast for air temperatures on Thursday morning at 6AM, fresh off the presses. We see temperatures near Madison, Wisconsin plummeting to -15 degrees Fahrenheit, with Minneapolis seeing similar readings. Chicago looks to be under the gun for -10 to -15 degree temperatures, while Springfield, IL may see relatively warmer values.
There is model discrepancy with respect to how cold this air mass will be. The GFS model is favoring a much colder solution, as we see above, while the short-range NAM model (not shown) is favoring a warmer solution. One model has to cave at some point; it's a waiting game to figure out which one. For now, better safe than sorry.

Tropical Tidbits
Friday morning is the tricky forecast for these Midwestern cities. Skies will be clear for swaths of the Midwest, and with much of the area under a snow pack, temperatures could drop even lower than Thursday morning readings. However, in addition to the NAM model favoring a warmer air mass, warm air advection will be ongoing across the Plains into the Midwest. Discrepancies remain with respect to how fast this warmer air will push into the Midwest, and how intense it will be. For now, I'm taking more of a wait-and-see approach, but preparing for the worst. Again, better safe than sorry.

Purely for eye candy, as in this will not verify, check out the Canadian model air temperature forecast for Friday morning.

Tropical Tidbits
To summarize:

- The Midwest may undergo its most severe wave of cold weather this season, with cities such as Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis going below the -10 degree F benchmark.
- Unusually high uncertainty still exists surrounding the intensity of this cold air on both Thursday and Friday. Any updates to this post will be made on either our Facebook or Twitter pages.