AccuWeather reports as forecast, warmth will expand and peak into this weekend in the East. Waves of cold air with the potential of major arctic outbreaks may follow beginning during the third week of January and continuing beyond.
After a storm bringing mostly rain swings through the Midwest Thursday night/Friday and the Northeast Friday/Friday night, temperatures will surge to likely their warmest levels of the month.
Record-challenging highs are forecast with temperatures reaching the 60s over a broad area of the Ohio Valley and the interior mid-Atlantic with 70 degrees within reach in a couple of locations.
Farther north and in the coastal Northeast, highs in the 50s to near 60 are projected.
While near- and below-zero air aims for the northern Plains, cooler to seasonably cold air will return from the Midwest to the East next week.
Following another batch of rain, the colder air will reach Chicago Saturday night, then Detroit and Cincinnati on Monday. Cooler air will return to Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
In the South, the chilly air will return to Dallas Sunday and move on to Nashville and Jackson, Miss., Monday. Cooler air will reach Raleigh, N.C., and Atlanta on Tuesday.
What about the brutal cold?
Last Friday, AccuWeather.com informed its followers that a phenomenon known as stratospheric warming taking place near the North Pole would lead to invasions of arctic air over part of the United States beginning one to two weeks later.
Colder air will continue to spread through the West this weekend with frigid air setting up for a few days later this weekend into early next week over the northern Plains. The advance of the cold air hooked up with a storm will yield a blizzard in some areas.
That may not be the end of the cold outbreaks for the U.S., however.
Another sizable batch of Arctic air is projected to take aim from the Upper Midwest to the Northeast later next week.
Additional waves of Arctic air may continue later in the month into February from portions of the Plains to the East with the potential for the coldest weather in years for northern areas as the pattern gets rolling.
Such outbreaks of arctic air would produce significant lake-effect snow events and could provide the cold ingredients necessary for more general snowfall, provided the pattern does not become as bold as to drive away Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic coast storms.
The bottom line is while the expansion of warmth will continue through the weekend in the East and will bounce back next week for a time in parts of the Plains and East, the lasting memory of the season may be remembered for a return to more traditional winter conditions with significant outbreaks of cold air in much of the same area.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was written by Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com.