Residents and visitors in the South this weekend into next week should be prepared for a spell of unseasonably cold weather with wind.
The chill will hit at a time when many college students, families and individuals flock to the South for a brief break from the winter.
Winds high in the atmosphere, known as the jet stream, will take a big southward dip over eastern North America, reaching as far as the northwestern Caribbean this weekend.
The end result will be temperatures averaging 10 to 20 degrees below normal across the South, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Bahamas.
The chilliest weather will be Sunday into Monday.
Folks from up north heading to the region may not want to pack all shorts and short sleeves. Residents in the South will be reaching for jackets and blankets.
Southern Weather Expert Dan Kottlowski joked, "Bathers may need a wet suit instead of a bathing suit for a couple of days."
Central Florida could experience a couple of days with highs in the upper 50s to near 60. Highs in New Orleans will be in the 50s. Highs in the Atlanta area will be in the 40s for a several-day stretch, despite some sunshine.
The chill will be accompanied by some wind, which will result in AccuWeather.com RealFeel® temperatures running some 10 degrees lower in some cases, especially during the day and evening hours, when most people are out and about.
According to Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler, "As far as nighttime lows, temperatures are likely to run similar (within a degree or two) to the chill that hit during the middle of the month in Florida and much of the southern U.S."
"Most agriculture interests taking typical precautions for a marginal frost or freeze should weather the cold spell just fine," Mohler and Kottlowski agreed.
Even though the air mass is colder than that of the middle of February, a slight breeze and patchy clouds should keep late-night and early-morning temperatures close to or just above those levels. (Temperatures dipped into the lower 30s over much of central Florida on Feb. 17 and 18).
Temperatures are forecast to rebound to more seasonable levels later next week as some folks head home and others stick around or make the trip to the South. However, one or more bouts of chilly weather are likely to swing into the South through the middle of March.
The thrust of the cold air will be directed from the upper Gulf Coast through the southern Atlantic Seaboard. Folks heading to South Texas will find highs in the 70s (near normal) most days. The cold air will fail to reach the central and eastern Caribbean, where highs will be in the 80s.
Normal temperatures trend upward rather quickly during March across much of the central and northern U.S.
During the period from this weekend into early next week across the Midwest to the Northeast, temperatures will also be below normal, just not as far off typical levels, when compared to the South.
Temperatures in much of the South have averaged several degrees above normal since Dec. 1, so the cold spell will pack a little shock for Southerners and disappointment for those heading to the South. However, it will still be warmer down south than in the north (most of the time)!
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