By Brian Lada – AccuWeather
The coldest air since last winter, now over the Plains and Midwest, will blast into the East during the first half of this week.
The core of the frigid air will focus over the northern Plains and the Great Lakes through at least Wednesday with overnight lows dipping down into the teens, single digits and even near zero F in the coldest spots.
Bone-chilling nights will be followed up by frosty cold days with highs struggling to reach the 20-degree mark over the regions on Tuesday. Some locations in the Central states are forecast to stay below 20 F until Wednesday afternoon, including Minneapolis.
Temperatures this low can make it dangerous for outdoors activities if you are not wearing the proper clothing.
While much of the Northeast escaped the cold on Monday, the arctic air will sweep through the region by Tuesday.
High temperatures from Washington, D.C., through New York City are forecast to stay near or below freezing on Tuesday, levels that would be considered below normal even during the heart of winter.
A biting wind from the northwest will make it feel even colder with AccuWeather.com RealFeel® staying in the teens throughout the day along the I-95 corridor.
A significant lake-effect snow event will set up downwind of the Great Lakes as the arctic air blows over the comparatively warm waters of the lakes.
The stage is set for feet of snow to pile up in some communities downwind of the Great Lakes. In some cases, the heaviest snow squalls in these areas can produce thunder and lightning.
Gusty winds will blow around the fresh snow, creating large drifts and near-blizzard conditions at times, making travel very difficult.
This arctic outbreak will not only be limited to the northern Plains, Midwest and Northeast but will reach into the Deep South.
Record lows will be challenged on multiple occasions through midweek from eastern Texas to the Carolinas with lows near freezing along much of the Gulf coast.
Parts of northern Florida may even have their first freeze of the season as lows dip down into the 20s in cities such as Jacksonville and Tallahassee.
According to Southern Weather Expert Dan Kottlowski, “A freeze will not reach into citrus-growing areas of South Florida, but there may be some issues for other fruits and some vegetables grown in northern and north-central counties of the state.”
The intensity of the cold is expected to lessen as temperatures begin to moderate heading into the second part of the week.
However, highs from Atlanta, Georgia, to Albany, New York, and westward through Aberdeen, South Dakota, will remain below normal until at least the weekend.