Extreme doesn’t quite describe it. A snapshot for Christmas day. Insane warmth for large parts of the USA while Alberta & BC in Canada enter brutal cold spell.
Deep freeze along the Pacific Northwest
Rain, snow and frigid conditions are forecast for the northwestern United States into the holiday weekend, and AccuWeather forecasters predict there could even be some snowflakes in cities such as Seattle on Christmas Day.
“The coldest air mass of the season thus far will impact the Pacific Northwest right in time for Christmas weekend,” said Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.
Bitterly cold Siberian air is expected to rush southward across British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, at the end of the week, dropping temperatures 15-30 degrees Fahrenheit (8-16 degrees Celsius) below average. This chill is anticipated to spill over the Canada-U.S. border by early next week, bringing shiver-worthy weather to the Northwest.
“Highs will only be in the 30s in Seattle Saturday and Sunday, and snow levels may be low enough to allow some snow to mix in with rain into downtown Seattle this weekend,” said Pydynowski.
The last time snow coated the Emerald City was earlier in the week on Monday when it arrived mixed with rain. Temperatures in Seattle typically rise to the middle 40s and fall into the upper 30s at night toward the end of December.
“Anyone enjoying Christmas night outside with family and friends will need to bundle up as Seattle could dip into the upper 20s Saturday night, then tie its record low of 20 (from 1968) Sunday night,” Pydynowski said.
As people in the coastal Northwest shiver, parts of interior British Columbia and Saskatchewan will be dealing with a deep freeze. In these areas, AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures are forecast to dip well below zero F.
Forecasters are also cautioning those heading outdoors to be wary of frostbite and patches of ice on the ground after any standing water has frozen.
“It’s certainly much different than last Christmas in Seattle when the city topped out near 50 degrees for its high,” added Pydynowski. The temperature just a few days before the holiday soared to near 60 on Dec. 21, 2020, setting a new daily record.
In addition to the bitter cold settling in across the Northwest this year, a good amount of precipitation is also on the way. This could possibly lead to some major travel issues as snow levels drop close to valley floors.
Waves of rain and mountain snow are expected to continue slamming into the West Coast and across the Intermountain West through most of the weekend and early next week. There’s a possibility for snowflakes to fall in not only Seattle but Portland, Oregon, as well on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. However, this snow is not expected to accumulate more than a trace or 0.1 of an inch at such low elevations.
The last time Seattle experienced a white Christmas was in 2017 when 1 inch fell on Christmas Day after 1.6 inches fell the previous day. It’s been over a decade since Portland had a white Christmas. The last time the city received snow on Dec. 25 was in 2008 when 0.9 of an inch fell.
Vancouver, British Columbia, is also anticipated to have some snow mixing in with the rain on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, with the chance of 1-3 inches of snow accumulating.
However, rain will be the most likely precipitation type in places like Portland and Eugene, Oregon, where an inch or two could fall, with higher amounts along the Oregon coast.
Snow in the mountains, however, will be particularly beneficial in replenishing snowpack in the West where drought has been widespread this year. Over 65% of both Oregon and Montana are in extreme drought, and desperately in need of precipitation.
Up to 8 feet of snow is anticipated across the peaks of the Cascades, with around 3-6 inches of snow in Medford, Oregon, through Monday morning. Bend, Oregon, could also have at least a coating of snow. By Wednesday night, 5 inches of snow had fallen in places like Lucerne and Stevens Pass, Washington.
Though this snow is welcome, it will also hamper travel plans both before and after Christmas. Motorists are encouraged to be extra careful on interstates 5, 15, 84 and 90 where roads can become slippery and potentially dangerous. Those looking to travel by air may experience some delays.
“More storms are forecast to drop southward along the Pacific coast from British Columbia to California through the end December,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said, adding that some of the high country of the Olympics, Cascades and Sierra Nevada could end up with 10-20 feet of snow during the last two weeks of the month.
This active weather pattern is expected to settle down as December shifts to January, according to Pastelok. He added that while there could still be some storms in the West, they will likely not feature as much available moisture, which would result in lower rainfall and snowfall amounts.
Extreme doesn’t quite describe it.
A snapshot for Christmas day. Insane warmth for large parts of the USA while Alberta & BC in Canada enter brutal cold spell. pic.twitter.com/tfMzEUJubv
— Scott Duncan (@ScottDuncanWX) December 22, 2021
Warmest Christmas on Record for Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Arkansas
This Christmas could be the warmest in more than 50 or even 100 years for parts of the south-central United States, and forecasters say several cities are tracking toward experiencing their warmest December on record.
“Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, all stand to match or top the record high for Dec. 25. this Saturday,” Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said, adding that highs in the 70s and 80s F, which will be common for much of the south-central region, are more typical of early to mid-October.
In Memphis and Tulsa, record highs that date back more than a century or nearly a century could be challenged. The record high for Dec. 25 in Memphis is 76 from 1889. In Tulsa, the record temperature is 73 from 1922.
AccuWeather is projecting a high of 84 in Houston and 81 in Dallas on Saturday, which could set new daily records for Christmas Day in both cities. Houston’s current record of 83 was set back in 2015 and Dallas’ record of 80 was established in 2016.
AccuWeather forecasters are also predicting a high of 76 on Christmas Day in Little Rock, Arkansas, which has a Christmas record high of 73, but that mark has not been threatened since 1942. Oklahoma City may come within striking distance of its record high of 73 set in 2016.
Gusty winds will accompany the Christmastime warmth and could be more than an annoyance for those planning on taking advantage and spending time outdoors. The winds from the south, southwest and west are forecast to average 15-30 mph with higher gusts and can raise the risk of brush fires igniting then quickly spreading over parts of the central and southern Plains.
Forecasters say those planning to use outdoor grills, barbecue pits and any open flames should do so with caution. In some cases, winds can be strong enough to kick up dust in parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico. While the magnitude of the wind and blowing dust will fall well short of the dust storm from last week, travel conditions could be tricky in open areas at times.
It has already been an unusually warm month for much of the central and southern Plains as well as in adjacent areas from the Rockies to the Mississippi Valley this December.
Temperature departures of 5-10 degrees from the average for a stretch of a few days are not uncommon, but pronounced departures of 10 or even 12 degrees over longer periods are exceptional and when these types of departures from the norm extend across an entire month, it’s downright rare.
A northward bulge in the jet stream has been responsible for the warm weather and has persisted much of the month, but the jet stream will begin to shift to the south again next week. Still, that probably will not bring enough cool air to avoid the warmest December on record from unfolding in many locations over the south-central region, forecasters say.
In Dallas, the first 22 days of December have run 10.2 degrees above the monthly normal of 49.0 degrees. At the current pace, the all-time monthly December record of 53.6 degrees is in jeopardy of being broken, if not shattered, AccuWeather Meteorologist Randy Adkins said. As of Dec. 22, the average temperature this month in Dallas was at 59.1 degrees.
There is a long list of cities over the Central states that could exceed their warmest December on record, and like Dallas, the mark may be topped by several degrees.
Come the end of the month, the map could be peppered with cities that finish 5 degrees, or more, above average and make a run at their warmest December on record. Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri; and Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee; could all challenge records. Oklahoma City; Omaha, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa, and Denver could as well. And places to the south, like Austin and San Antonio, Texas; and New Orleans and Shreveport, Louisiana; are on tap to finish with an unusually warm December.
While some of the more northern locations – such as Chicago, Denver and Omaha – may miss the December all-time high mark due to a bit of chilly air later this month, this month will still likely go down as one of the top five warmest Decembers for each of those locations.
The recent pattern has limited cold air from Canada from penetrating very far to the south and contributed to two major outbreaks of severe weather, including the deadly tornadoes the night of Friday, Dec. 10 that ravaged the middle Mississippi, Tennessee and lower Ohio valleys.
Also contributing to the warm trend has been the lack of moisture in the soil across the region, much of which is experiencing abnormally dry or extreme drought conditions. Even though the sun’s rays are rather weak during December, minimal moisture in the ground means a larger share of the sun’s energy heats the atmosphere closest to the ground since little is spent on evaporation.
The persistent convoluted jet stream has allowed storm after storm to drop southward along the Pacific Coast. These storms have unleashed rounds of drenching rain and feet of mountain snow from Washington to California so far this December with the pattern likely to continue through the end of the month.
Any dips in temperature over the South Central states into the final days of December are not likely to last long. Temperatures may return to near average during the last day or two of December in part of the region. For example, Dallas is projected to have a high close to the average of 56. High temperatures within a few degrees of average have been rare and only occurred on a handful of days so far this month.
Actually, a same temperature pattern is also observable in Europe.
Warm west, cold east this morning… pic.twitter.com/AxhAQKYbad
— Scott Duncan (@ScottDuncanWX) December 23, 2021
The are controlling the weather or at least try to. And this weather engineering gives those completely crazy temperature anomalies.
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