Brrr! Bitter Cold to Dominate the Next 10 Days
The first long lived Arctic air intrusion of this winter is set to unfold over the next 10 days. A strong upper air trough will form over the eastern United States by Monday, February 8th and cold air from the Arctic region will surge southward to create bitter cold conditions from the Rocky Mountains eastward to the Atlantic seaboard. The worst of this Arctic blast is projected to lie over southern Minnesota and northern Iowa early next week, but this will not spare Nebraska from Old Man Winter’s grip.
High temperatures for Nebraska will drop this weekend into the teens and twenties statewide, with several rounds of light snowfall possible. The GFS model projects a strong cold front will pass through the state Sunday and highs from Monday through Wednesday will drop into the single digits northeast to the low teens south. Overnight lows are expected to be in the single digits to low teens below zero. Overnight low temperatures are expected to be limited by cloud cover and any clearing overnight will lead to low temperatures at least 10 F colder. Unfortunately, the cloud cover will make daytime conditions feel bitter without sunny skies.
As this deep upper air trough develops, several pieces of energy are projected to move along the backside of this trough and produce periodic episodes of light snow. Even though the liquid equivalent moisture forecasts over the next week indicate a tenth to a quarter inch of moisture (heaviest northeast), daily highs in the single digits to low teens will create snowfall ratios in the 20-30:1 range. So even though the GFS model isn’t pointing to any major storm, it is possible that some locations may pick up 3-6 inches of fluffy snowfall from these multiple chances of moisture.
High temperatures are expected to possibly hit the upper teens to low 20’s next Thursday, but another surge of Arctic air is forecast by the GFS model by Friday. Once again, high temperatures will drop into the single digits to low teens. This will also present an opportunity for additional light snowfall as the surface front presses southward through the state. By Sunday (February 14), the GFS model begins to weaken the upper air trough and lifts it northward toward the Great Lakes, but also broadens it westward toward the Pacific Northwest. High temperatures across the state are forecasted to reach the 30’s by February 15-16, but considerable uncertainty exists in the models for the remainder of the third full week in February.
The GFS model has hinted at the upper air low building back into the eastern Gulf of Alaska the second half of February. If you recall, the snowy pattern experienced across eastern Nebraska the last two weeks of January occurred under similar circumstances. Thus with the warming temperatures comes the risk of renewed snowstorm activity developing from systems ejecting eastward out of the southern half of the Rocky Mountains as this upper air low shifts southeastward toward the Pacific Northwest. With calving season beginning, ranchers should keep abreast to the second half of February for a warmer, but more active storm pattern.
Al Dutcher, Agricultural Extension Climatologist, Nebraska State Climate Office