Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Bitter days are here, and a storm is on the horizon
BY TOM KNAPP, Staff Writer
Let's put things in perspective.
Yes, it's cold. Very, very cold. But while temperatures struggled to reach 20 degrees in Tuesday's blast of Arctic wind, that's nothing compared to the local record set Jan. 22, 1984, when the mercury bottomed out at 15 degrees below zero.
That makes this seem positively balmy, right?
According to data compiled by the Weather Information Center at Millersville University, the normal high for Jan. 22 is 39, with an average low of 21.
So, in other words, Tuesday's high temperature was lower than the normal overnight low.
"This is the coldest day we've had in two years," says MU meteorologist Eric Horst. "I wouldn't say it's dangerously cold just yet. But winter's definitely here."
Horst says the weather seems particularly cold in contrast to early January, which was warmer than usual.
"We just have to go back to the weekend, when we got up to 53," he says. "That was 14 or 15 degrees above normal. Now we've turned the tables, and we're 18 or so degrees below normal.
"Definitely, the second half of January is going to be more wintry."
The jet stream's pattern "has been rearranged," Horst explains. "We now have a deep northwesterly flow. The air flowing through the region now was up in the Arctic just three or four days ago.
"It's a classic Arctic outbreak. We don't see these every winter. We didn't see one last winter, while some winters we see several. We might get another shot of Arctic air next week."
In the meantime, expect several days of subfreezing cold, with nighttime temperatures dipping into the low teens or possibly single digits in some areas.
"I don't want to say it's going to warm up, but temperatures are going to moderate toward the end of the week," Horst says.
Why? "There's a storm coming," he explains.
There will almost definitely be snow in the air Friday, Horst says, although whether it will be a plowable snow remains to be seen.
"It could be an inch, it could be several inches," he says. "It's just coming off the Pacific onto the West Coast today. ... It probably will arrive mid-morning Friday and could last into evening.
"Behind it will be another shot of Arctic air -- probably not as cold as we're seeing now, but pretty cold," he adds.
"I'm not sure when we get above freezing again. Maybe next Monday or Tuesday. But I don't think we'll see the 50s any time soon."
Although cold, Horst says conditions this week aren't dangerous "as long as you're dressed properly."
"It's dangerous when you get subzero wind chills, but we're not there yet," he says.
AccuWeather.com is calling for a high of 20 degrees today, 25 on Thursday, 27 on Friday and 24 on Saturday. Overnight lows through the weekend will be in the low to mid-teens.
The website is predicting 2 to 4 inches of snow Friday, with temperatures heading back into the 30s starting Sunday.
"The winds here continue to howl, and despite having some sunshine, man, is it going to be cold out there," says AccuWeather meteorologist Justin Povick.
"It's a classic Arctic outbreak."
Meteorologist Eric Horst