Northern central states are astute at fighting driving snow and subzero chill, but the early cold snap this week could hit them like a boxer’s punch thrown before the opening bell.
This blast, reminiscent of last January’s deep freeze, comes too early for comfort. Leaves are still on the trees, and a snow dump is coming — a foot or more in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The leaves can make the trees accumulate more snow, weighing branches down more than they would if they were bare, CNN meteorologist Tom Sater says.
More falling limbs could mean more accidents, downed lines and power outages. But there’s more.
Pipes not yet ready for winter could also burst.
Cars without winter tires and drivers underestimating the freeze could slide off the road.
Calgary, Alberta, can attest to that. The arctic snap has rolled over them with snow already, and on Sunday, police there counted 207 wrecks before the evening came, 21 with injuries.
“It’s o.k. to get a nice cold snap now and then, but this one could be dangerous,” Sater says.
And the northern Mountains, Plains and Midwestern states are not the only targets. Much of the nation will feel the punch, if not quite as hard, CNN’s weather center says.
Then next week, yet another arctic blast is expected to follow.
Prefer snow or cold?
It’s hard to tell whether the snap will make life harder in Sunburst, Montana, or Rice Lake, Wisconsin.
If you prefer bitter cold over deep snow, you might like it better in Sunburst. It didn’t exactly live up to its name early Monday with a low of 4 degrees Fahrenheit predicted by the National Weather Service.
And that’s nothing.
By Tuesday night it should drop to 11 below zero and not rise above 6 degrees through Thursday night, the NWS forecasts.
It was snowing there early Monday, and should through Tuesday, but only about three inches should accumulate.
Not enough white for you? Then Rice Lake is your place.
Fourteen to 22 inches are forecast for Monday and overnight into Tuesday, then 2 to 4 inches for Veterans’ Day on Tuesday for a whopping total of 16 to 26 inches.
Broad sweep south
The cold snap should lay down its main snow blanket across a swath extending from Idaho down through South Dakota and northern Nebraska and over to northern Michigan.
On the blanket’s fringes will be flurries, sleet and rain.
The snap will bring lows into the teens and single digits down into Iowa, Kansas and Colorado this week but also spread freeze as far south as Texas.
“Much of the nation east of the Rockies is expected to see a major pattern change by the beginning of the work week,” the weather service said.
The frosty blast will stop short of the Southeast and Southwest, leaving them in a temperate fall warm-zone with highs into the 70s.
But even in the thick of it, some places will pull the longer straw. Milwaukee should see more rain than snow, Chicago the same, and temperatures there should be relatively mild, the weather service says.
Residents in the northern United States can thank a whopping Pacific tropical cyclone for the wintry blast.
Super Typhoon Nuri was akin to Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy rolled into one. It had the strength of a category 5 hurricane, CNN’s Sater said.
It is the strongest Northern Pacific post-tropical cyclone on record, the NWS said.
Its remnants blew up north over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands last week, and when it plowed into cold air, that added violent energy to the storm, mirroring what happened with Superstorm Sandy in the Atlantic two years ago.
That earned it the moniker “bomb cyclone.” That’s an actual weather term.
The hybrid storm rammed into the jet stream, causing it to whip south, dragging Arctic air down with it.
It also continued to spin, Sater said, further fanning down polar cold. The biggest chill arrives on Wednesday and Thursday.
Things will get warmer over the weekend, but it won’t stay that way, he said.
Another Arctic blast is on its way for next week.