Consider the weather this past week a mere pause in a tough winter that will resume this week with cold air and the potential for snowstorms.
The polar vortex will once again drop southward and erase last week's mild spell. 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."
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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 week.
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 diminished last 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 this week will be a continuation of the weather that has occurred during much of the past winter concerning not only temperatures, but also storms."
Through Tuesday, clipper storms will roll in from western Canada to the Midwest and Northeast with a nuisance amount of snow. The Northeast at midweek, however, is on alert for a more disruptive snowstorm.
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 into the first part of March.
However, there may be a few mild days in between the cold outbreaks. In other words the cold will not likely be as persistent as it was much of the winter, but the colder weather will take its toll on averages.