Teenage temperatures and pungent northwest winds with gusts beyond 20 mph will drive the “potentially dangerous” wind chills to single digits on Tuesday morning, and given what hasn’t happened recently, it might even be colder. Readings may not exceed freezing point until Wednesday.
For those of you who are new to the area, this is what we used to call winter around here.
But it has been rare in recent years – coinciding with the earth’s general temperature rise, especially in the Arctic Freezing Plant – and unless the forecast is a major collapse, with highs Between the low to mid-20s, Tuesday will be the coldest day in Philadelphia since February 1, 2019. On that day, the peak did not reach 20.
While it might be a fortuitous time to check the car’s exterior hoses and battery, consistent with winter trends, that cold snap will be “short,” said Paul Walker, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc., with temperatures returning in the 40s Thursday.
READ MORE: Winters in Philadelphia are not what you think
However, meteorologists say the next two weeks could be hectic here and elsewhere in the East. A winter storm could affect the area this weekend, although at present this involves more balls in the air than NFL playoff scenarios on the last weekend of the regular season .
The government’s Climate Prediction Center is likely to favor below normal temperatures in the east through January 23. Judah Cohen, a polar scientist at Atmospheric and Environmental Research in Massachusetts, said Monday he sees the potential for the “most active mid-winter model” in the East in seven years.
The prevailing weather feature right now is a powerful system in the Gulf of Alaska that has punished British Columbia and Washington state with a procession of storms, with some of that energy pouring east, Walker said.
So far this winter, however, the behavior of the atmosphere has been even more elusive than usual, he said. Remember that the pre-season outlook favored a strong start to the season. Philadelphia then experienced the second hottest December on record.
READ MORE: Winter forecast for Philly calls for early snowfall, cold December
Until Sunday, temperatures in Philadelphia in January were on average nearly 3 degrees above normal, but the area had an interlude last week with two rather peculiar snowfalls.
The city ended its snow drought on Jan. 3 with an official thumbs up at Philadelphia International Airport on a day when 13 inches were reported in Atlantic City and some areas west of the city reported 13 flakes.
Snow was more prevalent overnight Thursday through Friday, but by no means uniform. For example, six inches were measured in West Chester; within a few miles, near the junction of highways 202-322, the total was less than three inches.
This snow not only was hitting quickly, but was disappearing quickly, and whatever was left flattened and faded on Sunday with the arrival of softer, wetter air and rain. (The latent heat generated when snow and ice turn into liquid accelerates melting.)
Computer models have been ubiquitous regarding the weekend threat, Walker said, and it is more than likely to continue into the week.
“Some show a big storm, others show no snow at all,” he said. And when has it ever happened?
What the National Weather Service calls “potentially dangerous cold” is final for Tuesday, however.