Weekend snow sets stage for Polar Vortex’s icy return

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December 11, 2016

A winter storm's unrelenting march across the nation's northern tier brought snow to a handful of states Sunday and promised plunging temperatures that could drive frost as far south as Atlanta by week's end.

December 11, 2016

A winter storm's unrelenting march across the nation's northern tier brought snow to a handful of states Sunday and promised plunging temperatures that could drive frost as far south as Atlanta by week's end.

Facing sub-zero temperatures, visitors bundle up as they visit the Mount Rushmore monument on, Dec. 9, 2016, near Keystone, S.D. The Arctic cold front has sent daytimes highs barely above zero degrees for the week in the mid-plains.

"It may not set records, but it will be really, really cold," Bruce Sullivan, senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center told USA TODAY. "The thing is, it's not even winter yet."

Parts of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin were among states blasted Sunday by a band dumping up to eight inches of snow more than a week before winter officially begins. A few areas, such as Granite Falls, Minn., are reaching double-digit accumulations.

On Monday the snow was forecast to roll into Upstate New York and parts of New England. A wide swath of the region could see up to six inches, with more in the mountains. New York City was bracing for snow Sunday night that was expected to turn to rain by Monday, the National Weather Service said.

After that, it's time for an Arctic blast. Blame the Polar Vortex, similar to the one that rocked the U.S. in January 2014, which is poised to drive demand for wool hats, mittens and leggings.

The Polar Vortex, lest we forget, is a massive area of high pressure and cold air that lingers around the North Pole. Sometimes it expands, allowing it to leak down over North America via the jet stream, the weather service explains.

The translation for North Dakota and Minnesota will be temperatures that in some areas fail to reach 0 degrees — for daytime highs.

In Washington D.C., that means temperatures could fail to bounce above freezing Thursday or Friday. Cleveland will rock a high of 17 degrees Thursday. Even Atlanta could see temperatures dip below freezing Thursday night.

But before that, there is snow in the Midwest to contend with. Chicago had about four inches of snow early Sunday, with a few more forecast. But Chicago is Chicago, and snow is part of life. Charles Williams, Chicago Streets and Sanitation commissioner, was not intimidated by the storm.

"We anticipate a normal morning rush on Monday," Williams told the Chicago Tribune. "Everybody goes to work. No excuses to take off. The streets will be clear."


Courtesy: USA Today