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Polar Air Invades the South

Bundle up... a chunk of Polar air will be taking up residence in Georgia

It's finally here! After several weeks of tracking this polar outbreak, it's finally sitting on our doorstep. 

If you've been watching or reading the news, I'm sure by now you've heard all about the polar vortex doing this and that... I'm glad the media finally got on board. This is record setting stuff and until last night, they weren't talking much about it at all. 

To set the stage, here's a summary from the WPC:

"The upper pattern across the nation will continue to be dominated by arctic intrusions bringing reinforcing shots of cold air to the country. Forecast models remain consistent in carrying the polar vortex into the northern tier of the U.S. while carrying it eastward in time. Many locations may see their temperature readings drop to near record values. By Sunday, afternoon temperatures across the Northern Plains/Upper Midwest may linger in the negative 10s/20s with lows plummeting that night to near -30 Fahrenheit. The broad pressure gradient setting up over the region will allow gusty winds to persist which will lower wind chill temperatures to very dangerous levels. Incredibly, it may feel as cold as -50 to -60 on Sunday night over sections of the north-central states with the frigid air remaining in place into early next week. As the vortex shifts eastward, the polar air will begin to affect the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley with temperatures plummeting rapidly. While the air mass will modify, temperatures will remain downright cold with the forecast high in Chicago, IL being only -11 on Monday."

But of course, if it's cold, everyone wants to know if it's going to snow, and that answer is maybe. After all, this is Georgia and when it comes to winter weather, nothing is for sure. The latest models had a good trend to them, but it's still too early to see what the metro area may get.

Here's the latest thought from the Atlanta NWS forecast office.

MODELS IN EXCELLENT AGREEMENT WITH RESPECT TO TIMING OF THE NEXT SYSTEM WITH CATEGORICAL RAIN CHANCES PUSHING INTO NORTHWEST ZONES BY 18Z SUNDAY. THIS WILL BE A VERY QUICK MOVING SYSTEM WITH MOST OF THE IMPACT BEING DONE WITH FOR THE ENTIRE CWA WITHIN A 12 HOUR PERIOD. WILL BE A VERY INTERESTING 12 HOUR PERIOD THOUGH AS COLD AIR RUSHES IN ON THE BACK SIDE... CHANGING PRECIP TO A MIXTURE INITIALLY BUT VERY QUICKLY TO ALL SNOW FOR AREAS NORTH OF A ROME TO CLEVELAND LINE.

STILL A BRIEF MIX POSSIBLE SOUTH OF THIS LOCATION WITH TOP DOWN METHOD EVEN INDICATING A PERIOD OF FREEZING RAIN POSSIBLE AS PRECIP ENDS FROM LAGRANGE THROUGH ATLANTA.AMOUNTS WILL BE TOUGH AS I AM WORRIED HOW RAPIDLY PRECIP PULLS OUT. GENERALLY 1 TO 2 INCHES SUPPORTED BY THE MODELS AND WPC GUIDANCE BUT AM LEANING ON THE LOW END AT THIS POINT GIVEN LIMITED WRAP AROUND INITIALLY.

BIGGER ISSUE FOR THESE AREAS WILL BE HOW QUICKLY TEMPERATURES DROP RELATIVE TO PRECIP ENDING WHICH COULD CREATE A BLACK ICE SITUATION AT THE WORST TIME... NAMELY MORNING RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC. WILL HOLD OFF ON WINTER STORM WATCH AT THIS POINT BUT WILL LIKELY ISSUE EVEN BEFORE AFTERNOON PACKAGE... MAYBE WITH THE MORNING UPDATE.
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So you can see, this is going to be close, and the main concern may be flash freezing of the rain as the cold air rushes in. This is a major concern over in Alabama where both the Birmingham and Huntsville NWS offices mentioned it in their morning AFD's. 

Temperatures Monday never go above freezing, and Monday night/Tuesday morning will hit the single digits here in the metro area.One of my main concerns are wind chills on Tuesday morning of -10 degrees here. Keep in mind, this is the first day for kids going back to school, so standing at a bus stop in -10F wind chills is not the safest thing to make kids do.

So get ready, take care of those pets, protect your water faucets, check your anti-freeze in your car, and dress warm, we don't see these kind of temperatures but once every 10-20 years or so. 

Please remember, I'll have frequent updates on my Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/NorthGeorgiaWeather) with lots of images, as well as the latest weather information about this polar outbreak from around the country. Also, if you follow that page, you'll be notified within a minute of any watch or advisory information. 

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This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Colleen Walsh Fong January 04, 2014 at 05:56 PM
Thanks for the update. We're watching your reports for guidance as our son decides when to head back to UGA.
Kristi Reed January 05, 2014 at 10:21 AM
My husband is going to really get to experience this polar vortex. He is flying to Minneapolis later today.

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