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Much colder weather is on tap for the second half of January with a weakening polar vortex, according to forecasters.
But don’t look for anything like the horrific, record cold that punished Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest last winter, AccuWeather said.
After a big storm system Friday and Saturday moves out, the National Weather Forecasts highs just near 14, 17 and 20 Sunday through Tuesday and lows around 4 and 2 Sunday night and Monday night, while 27 Storm meteorologist Max Tsaparis predicts highs near 14, 14 and 18 and lows around 0 and 10.
And that won’t be the end of the cold, according to AccuWeather.
"We expect conditions to turn much colder during the last two weeks of January," AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said. "There will be some weakening and stretching of the polar vortex, which will allow cold air to drain southward from Canada in stages during the second half of the month. However, a big breakdown and major shift of the polar vortex, which would allow an extremely cold discharge, is not anticipated.”
The polar vortex keeps cold air locked up near the Arctic Circle when it's strong, and that has been the case this winter. When the polar vortex weakens and shifts its position, cold air can escape south. That was the case in last winter’s bitter cold snap.
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In addition, a large southward bulge in the jet stream is expected next week that is likely to persist and stick around for two to perhaps four weeks. That will enable cold arctic air to move down into the U.S., following a mild first half of meteorological winter.
"By next weekend, nearly all of the lower 48 states may be colder than average," Pastelok said. "Temperature departures from average will probably be more like 3 to 10 degrees below average.”
Normal highs for the second half of January, which is the coldest part of the year, are at 26 and 27 and lows 11 and 12 for Madison, according to the Weather Service.
The colder trend is expected to continue into February, and AccuWeather's long-range team of meteorologists is predicting February to average 1 to 3 degrees below normal for much of the eastern half of the nation, with the exception of Florida.
"As we get into February, the polar vortex may strengthen and retreat toward the Arctic Circle once again and the jet stream dip may set up more toward the middle of the nation, which would suggest cold conditions there but result in moderating cold in the East," Pastelok said.
Deep freeze: Read our coverage of the early 2019 polar vortex in southern Wisconsin
Deep freeze: Read our coverage of the early 2019 polar vortex in southern Wisconsin
Winter weather has been pounding southern Wisconsin, bringing lots of snow and then extreme cold temperatures. Keep up with the latest news here.
Southern Wisconsin will see its third big snowstorm of the past couple of weeks Sunday night into Monday, before another “polar vortex” brings the coldest weather in years, according to forecasters.
The bad news is we could get up to 10 inches of snow to start the work week, followed by mind-numbing cold, possibly down to the 60 below zero level with the wind thrown in. The good news? Spring is only eight weeks away.
Temperatures could stay below zero for more than two days in the wake of a winter storm that's likely to bring more snow Sunday and Monday.
To deal with the bitter cold, local facilities in Madison that accommodate the homeless are staying open longer and are suspending occupancy limits so more people can be taken care of. Availability may be limited, and it is best to call ahead to verify hours and availability.
Milwaukee Public Schools, the largest school district in the state, was among those that closed Friday, but the Madison school district remained open with no classes held due to a grade reporting day.
The area should see several more inches of snow before the storm exits around mid-day, with the coldest air of the season to move in by late this week, according to forecasters.
If you don't have to go anywhere in south-central Wisconsin on Wednesday, just stay put. If you do have to drive, slow down and stay on the road.
The district said in a news release Wednesday morning that all schools will be closed Wednesday, and MSCR, athletics and other evening activities also are canceled for Wednesday.
Dozens of schools and school districts in Wisconsin are getting the jump on a major winter storm heading this way, by cancelling classes and after school activities on Tuesday.
The area is under a winter storm warning from 9 a.m. Tuesday through noon Wednesday with snow totals possibly approaching a foot in some areas, according to forecasters.
The storm that began Friday afternoon will have dumped 5 to 8 inches on the Madison area and up to a foot in far southern Wisconsin by the time it ends Saturday, nearly doubling Madison’s snow total for the season, according to forecasters.
The biggest snowstorm of winter is heading toward southern Wisconsin, so get ready for shoveling, snow blowing and tricky driving.
Here's a look back at what it was like in January 2014 when a historic "polar vortex" of frigid air gripped the state. Temperatures in Madison…
Districts are looking at making up time and rescheduling events, while some staff members had to either use paid time off or go unpaid due to the extreme weather.
One of the coldest stretches of weather ever to hit Madison is just about over.
The wind chill warning ends for southern Wisconsin by noon on Thursday, but some accumulating snow is expected in the afternoon and evening, according to forecasters.
The great freezeout of 2019 is just about over in Wisconsin, but we have to make it through one more day.
Faculty and staff should return to work at noon Thursday when campus buildings unlock, though some services may not be available immediately.
Lots of things are closed today -- most government offices, schools, shopping malls, restaurants -- due to the life-threatening cold. Even the Postal Service has suspended delivery in Wisconsin as well as parts or all of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, as well as Wisconsin.
Hardware stores and grocery stores drew customers but most retailers, save for some of the big box stores, were closed Wednesday and most expect to open later on Thursday.
The Madison School District has canceled classes Thursday, making it the fourth straight day of no school in the state's second largest school district.
Lyft will give riders two free trips up to a $25 value each with promo code.
"One has to keep in mind that this is the hottest time of the year for us. The other thing is that this is a very, very dry environment, so that the same temperature here and in Wisconsin may feel a lot colder for you than for us," a researcher wrote.
Southern Wisconsin and all of the Upper Midwest is in the middle of a stretch of historically cold weather, and it will get worse before it gets better, according to forecasters.
The life-threatening temperatures forecasters are calling the coldest in a generation prompted UW-Madison to cancel classes, events and campus activities from 5 p.m. Tuesday through noon Thursday.
"It's crowded but it's available," said Karen Andro, who runs the homeless ministry for First United Methodist Church.
While the high is only expected to reach -13 on Wednesday -- just two degrees shy of the 120-year-old record -- climate data show cold snaps like this are far less common than they were a generation ago.
Madison school children will have another day of no classes Wednesday, because of the extremely cold temperatures.
All non-essential state offices and agencies will be shuttered to the public Wednesday, and most state employees will be able to request the day off due to the weather.
Late Tuesday, the U.S. Postal Service said regular mail delivery across eastern Wisconsin would be suspended Wednesday but express mail in metro areas would be available.
The area is under a wind chill advisory through 6 p.m. on Tuesday, then a wind chill warning through noon on Thursday as the cold reaches truly life-threatening levels, according to forecasters.
Area school closings in the last week due to snow have left parents scrambling to adjust routines while bracing for more days off this week.
Gov. Tony Evers declared a state of emergency in Wisconsin on Monday, because of the heavy snows that have fallen and the extreme cold still to come.
A storm system that brought heavy snowfall to southern Wisconsin on Sunday and Monday will be followed Tuesday and beyond by dangerously cold …
"We recognize this may be a challenging week for all of us, based on the current forecast" - Madison Schools
After a powerful storm system finishes dumping 6 to 13 inches of snow across the area, life-threatening and potentially record-setting cold will move in and stick around until late this week, according to forecasters.
All Madison School District schools will be closed Monday, and MSCR, athletics and other evening activities have been canceled.
Southern Wisconsin could see a foot of snow or more before a “polar vortex” delivers the harshest cold in years, and perhaps ever, according to forecasters.
An arctic blast spread painful cold across Wisconsin and the rest of the Midwest Friday, closing schools, opening warming centers and even intimidating ice fishermen in a taste of even more dangerous weather expected next week.
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