Winter returning with a vengeance

    It will be dangerously cold this week across the east and middle east. (WCHS/WVAH)

    Our week got off to a great start with sunshine and temperatures making it into the 50s across much of the area.

    We warmed up courtesy of some gusty southerly winds in advance of an approaching cold front. That front is starting to make its way across southern Ohio and northern Kentucky just before midnight and will sweep through West Virginia during the overnight. Some rain initially will fall ahead of the front, although it's been struggling a bit because of some dry air ahead of it.

    By the time we get to 2 to 4 in the morning, temperatures will fall through the 30s and rain will switch to some wet snow. It may fall steadily for a couple of hours just before the morning rush time with a dusting to 1" of snow likely for most of us (1 to 3" in the mountains). Snow amounts aren't much, but with temperatures falling into the 20s by sunrise any wet, untreated spots could turn icy so be careful and leave extra time for your drive.

    Snow will taper down into the afternoon but temperatures will stay in the 20s with brisk winds putting our wind chills into the teens, a far cry from Monday's 50-degree weather. Nonetheless, the true arctic cold will roll in Wednesday morning behind a second, stronger front. Historic cold will settle across the northern Plains and Midwest, with wind chills expected to fall to -50 in Chicago and -65 in parts of North Dakota! Numbers that low can result in frostbite in less than 5 minutes on exposed skin. Fortunately our cold won't be as brutal thanks to a lack of snow on the ground south of I-70. That will act to moderate this airmass some as it moves in here. Nonetheless, I expect that arctic front will be accompanied by some strong wind gusts, possibly to 40 mph in the valleys and 50 mph in the mountains. With temperatures falling into the teens that puts our wind chills down to 0 to -15 during the day, and 20-30 below in the mountains.

    Temperatures have a chance to go to 0 or lower Wednesday night. This seems highly likely north/east of Charleston, but along I-64 some mid-high level clouds may keep us a little higher. Regardless Thursday will get off to a frigid start and temperatures will only recover to around 20 in the afternoon in spite of some sun.

    The arctic air retreats Friday but a trailing clipper system may bring a shot of snow in here Thursday night or Friday morning. The details are still not set in stone but with such a frozen ground even a little snow would stick to roads quickly so we'll keep an eye on it. Once that system exits, though, it looks like the Groundhog may forecast an early Spring as temperatures rebound to near 60 degrees for Super Bowl Sunday and early next week!

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