The first Arctic blast
Following last night’s snowstorm, Arctic air has now firmly established itself in the Mid-Atlantic region and it is some of the coldest air seen in these parts in about 5 years. Philadelphia International Airport is likely to drop to between 0 and 5 degrees by later tonight and that would be the coldest reading since January 17, 2009 when the low temperature bottomed out at 6 degrees. Temperatures could actually bottom out at or even slightly below zero later tonight in some of the suburbs of Philadelphia and also in much of the New York City metro region. However, as cold as this current Arctic air mass is, the blast coming early next week looks to be even colder and it will likely be the coldest air in 20 years to invade this part of the country.
Next week’s amazingly cold Arctic blast
The next Arctic blast will work its way through the Midwest on Sunday and then arrive in the Mid-Atlantic region on Monday. Between Monday night and early Wednesday, the Mid-Atlantic region will be in the deep freeze and could very well see widespread below zero readings for low temperatures - and this even includes in the big cities along the I-95 corridor. Not since January of 1994, the winter still remembered around here as the “ice storm” winter, have we seen below zero readings in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, DC - all at the same time. On January 19th, 1994, Central Park, NY reached -2 degrees, Philly Airport bottomed out at -5 degrees, and Reagan National Airport in DC reached -4 degrees. Next week’s incredible cold Arctic air outbreak may actually present an opportunity for below zero readings in the big cities on Monday night and also on Tuesday night. The plot seen below shows cold temperature extremes at DC’s Reagan National Airport going all the way back to 1946 which is when records began to be kept for the Washington, DC metro region. There have only been three below zero readings in that time period at the DC Airport. The GFS computer model forecast map (above) of the 500 millibar height anomalies for next Monday night over North America suggests that the polar vortex - normally seen close to the North Pole – will quite amazingly be centered over the Great Lakes (forecast map courtesy of WeatherBell.com). In other words, the coldest air in all of North America will be centered over the northeastern US during the early part of next week. The good news about this is that temperatures can only go up after this next Arctic air mass passes by our area.
The impact on playoff football
In terms of the Arctic cold impact on the upcoming weekend football playoff games, the Eagles game tomorrow night in South Philly will be played under the influence of today’s (first) Arctic blast. Although there will be some modification in temperatures around here later tomorrow, game time temperatures will still be quite cold (in the low 20's) and they could drop into the teens during the game which could very well make this one of the coldest Eagles games ever. However, winds will be quite light in South Philly and the field should be dry.
Meanwhile, the playoff game in Green Bay, Wisconsin occurs on Sunday evening and by that time the next Arctic blast will have crashed into the Upper Midwest. As a result, Sunday evening game time temperatures in Green Bay should be between 5 and 10 degrees below zero which would potentially make this one of the coldest football games ever played. The coldest game ever was the NFL Championship game played on December 31, 1967 in Green Bay between the Packers and the Cowboys with a game time temperature of -13 degrees. The second coldest game was on January 10, 1982 in Cincinnati, Ohio between the Bengals and Chargers when the game time temperature was -9 degrees.