Oak Hill, WV (WOAY-TV): While southern West Virginia is standing tall in the 70s this week, a major weather pattern change will bring a deep plunge into the Plains.
There is a blue norther on the horizon, and I’m not talking about the color of the sky. I’m talking about a weather pattern.
The weather pattern this week favors a cross-polar flow with a strong negative phase of both the West and East Pacific Oscillation. We are seeing air come straight from northern Asia across the North Pole and Arctic Circle, straight into the northern Rockies. Eventually, that high pressure is going to nudge the cold air all the way down into the Southern Plains and a bit of that moves east into our region.
Now, this pattern is traditionally called a Blue Norther. We’re going to see the first significant snowfall accumulation across the northern Rockies this week, including Denver. The cold air mass will spread south from the northern Rockies into the southern Plains this weekend.
The temperature usually falls much faster than forecast and this leads to a quick transition from a cooling load (air conditioners running) to a warming load (heaters blasting) for utility companies. Particularly across the Front Range, Central Plains into the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle, the heating load factor will spike quickly following the frontal passage with this particular pattern. As the cold air rushes south this weekend, we will see temperatures drop anywhere from 30 to 40 degrees in a matter of 12 hours across the Plains.
Think of it as a see-saw pattern initially with the East in the above-average temperature regime and entire Plains in below-average temperatures.
Blue Northers are common in November and the spring season. Back on November 11, 1911, a big high pressure moved down the spine of the Rockies and generated very chilly temperatures across much of the Central U.S. Oklahoma City had a high of 83 and then dropped 66 degrees to a record low of 79.
In Chicago, a man died from heat stroke November 11th and then two people froze to death in the Windy City the following day. So, this Great Blue Norther will be remembered for impressive temperature drops, with a 60 to 70 degree drop in temperatures across the Midwest as this particular frontal system moved through.
We are not expecting that magnitude of cold across the Central Plains this go-around, but it will be one to make headlines this weekend and early next week.
The cold air will migrate across the country and settle into southern West Virginia just in time for Halloween. Here’s Chief Meteorologist Chad Merrill’s latest forecast: