Consider the weather this week a mere pause in a tough winter that will resume next week with cold air and the potential for snowstorms.
Signs are pointing toward another southward dip from the polar vortex. The polar vortex is essentially a mass of very cold air that usually hangs out above the Arctic Circle and is contained by strong winds.
According to Long Range Expert Mark Paquette, "We noticed a minor Sudden Stratospheric Warming event taking place back on Feb. 6-7, 2014."
When sudden warming takes place high in the atmosphere, it initiates a chain of events that tends to displace the polar vortex between 14 and 30 days later.
"In addition to the exact timing of the cold outbreak is you never know for sure initially which continent the cold air will be directed," Paquette said, "This time it appears it will take aim at the eastern part of North America."
Cold air is poised to return in stages to the North Central states, the Northeast and interior South beginning this weekend and continuing into next week.
As the magnitude of the cold air fully is gauged in the short term, most likely temperature forecasts will be adjusted downward for multiple days.
One reason for the cold blast carrying more weight than you might expect is the fact that the Great Lakes are largely frozen over. The air will not moderate to the extent as if most of the lakes were not frozen. In addition, while the amount and extent of snow on the ground will diminish this week, many areas will retain some sort of snow cover.
There is the potential for high temperatures to be in the single digits and teens during a several-day stretch from Chicago to Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo, N.Y. Farther south, from St. Louis to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York City, highs may wind up in the teens and lower 20s, if the cold air drives forcefully to the south and east.
Further updates on the cold air will follow through this weekend.
According to Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno, "For all practical purposes, the upcoming pattern next week will be a continuation of the weather that has occurred during much of the past winter concerning not only temperatures, but also storms."
At times, clipper storms will roll in from western Canada to the Midwest and Northeast. On other occasions, storms will move up from the Gulf coast or develop along the Atlantic Seaboard.
The setup next week may present one to several such Atlantic Coast storms next week in the Sunday to Thursday period.
How quickly and forcefully the cold air moves toward the coast will determine whether one main storm forms or multiple significant storms develop. The degree to which the cold air moves toward the coast will also determine which areas get snow versus rain or a wintry mix.
People along the middle and upper Atlantic coast and the Appalachians to the west should anticipate at least a couple of days of travel delays and disruptions to daily activities.
Like Rayno said, "It will be business as usual for this difficult winter as the familiar pattern resumes."
AccuWeather's long-range meteorologists expect the pattern of lower-than-average temperatures and rather frequent storms to continue over the Upper Midwest to the Northeast next week well into March.