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January 6, 2014

Arctic blast expected to return to area

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Despite a relative heat wave over the weekend, arctic-like temperatures are set to return to the area starting tonight.

“We’re looking at temperatures dropping below zero in Orleans and Niagara Counties,” said Jeff Wood, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo. “Plus there are winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour that will accompany that, making the wind chill 20 to 25 below zero.”

Also, the dip in temperatures could create hazardous road conditions as rain was expected Sunday, and the wet roads could have frozen quickly.

Tuesday’s highs are not expected to climb out of single digits while the winds continue, leading to temperatures remaining in the 15 to 20 below range with the wind chill until mid-week when the highs are predicted in the 20s.

The past few winters have been considerably milder, Wood added.

“We’ve been spoiled,” he said. “But, certainly it’s not unprecedented to get temperatures like this.”

The weekend warm up that just ended, and the upcoming cold snap, are just part of various storm systems, Wood explained. 

“It’s winter and storms come though to drop temperatures down and warm temperatures up,” he said. “Southerly winds brought up warmer air over the weekend for the entire region.”

The frigid cold on the horizon, Wood noted, is indeed arctic.

“This system is essentially coming down from the North Pole and accompanies a low pressure system sweeping through the region,” he said. The “region” in question, he added, is almost the entire northern half of the United States. The system spent much of the weekend as an “arctic air mass sitting over Canada,” Wood explained.

While winter brings cold temperatures, Wood agreed having such bitterly cold air over such a relatively long period of time is a bit anomalous and has not been experienced in Western New York for some time. He said residents need to make sure they take care to dress appropriately to stay warm if them must go outside so as to avoid such things as hypothermia or frostbite.

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