Get out the extra blanket. Bring in the dog. Put another log on the fire.
Cold arctic air — the coldest in about four years — is approaching the lakes area in a frigid wave.
After wind chills of 15 to 25 below Thursday morning, the air temperature is expected to top out about 11 degrees. Friday will provide a momentary warm-up, with highs about 30 degrees that may feel balmy after this week. Take advantage of the day to get the groceries and gas up the car, because much colder air is breaking free of the arctic and heading this way.
Saturday’s highs may be in the 20 degree range, which is normal for this time of year. But Saturday’s high will be short-lived. It may just last long enough to make the more than 10,000 ice anglers happy on Hole-in-the-Day Bay for the annual Jaycee’s Ice Fishing Extravaganza.
“The temperature is really going to take a nose dive Saturday night and stay cold all the way into Wednesday,” said Declan Cannon, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth.
The brunt of the cold air is expected Sunday and Monday.
After a few mild winters and a 2012 where new high temperatures were set, this continued below normal highs may feel quite chilly. The weather service in Duluth looked at temperatures going back 12 years. The coldest daytime high was 10 below in 2007.
Monday’s high temperature with models showing a high of six below could be close. “There probably will be an extended window where the temperature won’t get above zero day or night,” Cannon said. Any kind of breeze will add bite to the cold and could produce wind chill advisories.
The coldest temperature on record for Jan. 21 in Brainerd arrived with a teeth-chattering 42 below in 1984. The coldest day Jan. 19 came with 47 below in 1994. But for daytime temperatures, more recent record-setting cold winter days were highs of 34 degrees below on Jan. 10, 2002 and 31 below on Jan. 5, 2007.
This coming cold snap doesn’t rival those temperatures.
Saturday night may drop to 11 below to 16 below and won’t rebound much on Sunday, topping out around zero before dropping again to nearly 20 below overnight. Monday night may be a little colder yet with lows in the 19 below to 24 below range, making for a chilly Tuesday morning as some places begin the work week after a long weekend observing Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Tuesday’s overnight temperatures are expected to moderate slightly to 10 below or 14 below and rise under partly sunny skies to 9 to 14 degrees — above zero.
Cannon said while that above zero respite will provide a break it will likely be followed by another surge of arctic air as the weekend approaches. As the lakes area moves toward the end of January, temperatures are expected to be below normal except for a couple of breaks.
The cold air was bottled up in the north polar region and before this week was held in place across northern Manitoba, Canada. But Cannon said an upper wind pattern finally shifted as a ridge of high pressure off the West Coast pushed north toward Alaska. That shift creates a reflex reaction and the cold air is pushed south. Once the cold air breaks free, Cannon said it normally arrives in slow-moving waves.
“That’s kind of the pattern we are in now,” he said of the cold, dry air. “When you get this much cold air pushing this far south it pushes the storm path way to the south.”
The air in northern Manitoba has reached daytime highs of 28 below and overnight lows up to 40 below.
“There is a big chunk of that coming down,” Cannon said. “It will modify, but it will be unpleasant for most.”
For those working outside, exposed skin may be candidates for frostbite is the windchill is added to the mix. And outside pets could suffer as well without an adequate shelter.
“This is typically the coldest time of year for us anyway,” Cannon said, looking out for the extended seven to 10-day forecast. “We don’t foresee any major or significant snowfall. We just see lots of cold air and periodic bouts of light snow showers.”