|Much of the nation turns blue, at least in the eyes|
of the National Weather Service, as wind
chill alerts are up for most of the eastern
two thirds of the nation.
When the nation is cold, the National Weather Service map turns blue.
The home page of the NWS is basically all blue east of the Rockies, as wind chill warnings and advisories extend over nearly two thirds of the nation as this big Arctic blast continues.
The most interesting areas today with this cold wave will be in northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
An Arctic front is poised to cross the region today, turning the weather from pretty chilly to downright brutal.
This type of front, racing through, is often accompanied by heavy snow squalls and it looks like that will happen today.
The squalls will probably hit northern New York at mid-morning, enter western Vermont late this morning, get into New Hampshire early this afternoon, an then Maine.
Winter weather advisories are up for these regions because of the snow squalls.
These squalls will drop one to four inches of snow, which normally isn't considered a big deal for northern New England. But these squalls will drop that snow within an hour in any given location, visibility will drop to zero when they hit, roads will ice up, winds will gust up to 45 mph and temperatures will abruptly plunge.
You don't want to be out on the roads when that comes through.
Then the cold arrives. Big Time.
In Vermont, I expect temperatures to flirt with 20 degrees before noon, then crash to 0 or lower by dusk. Of course, readings will keep falling after that.
The National Weather Service in Burlington, Vermont has actually lowered predicted low, low temperatures for Thursday morning by about five degrees.
Temperatures will bottom out at around 15 below in the "warmer" parts of the Champlain Valley, and in the low 30s below zero in the colder hollows of the state's Northeast Kingdom.
Wind chill warnings are up in New York and New England, as the wind chill will get to as low as 40 below in northern New England by tonight.
The good news is the worst of New England's cold will come and go very quickly. By Thursday afternoon, temperatures in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine will rise to between 5 and 15 above zero.
That's not exactly warm - in fact it's still 10 degrees or so colder than normal, but at least by Thursday afternoon, it won't be brutally, ridiculously cold.
After that, temperatures will stay below normal for the next few days in New England, but it won't be anything as bad as this afternoon, tonight and Thursday morning.
The cold continues out in the northern Plains and Great Lakes, too, and will linger there for the next several days.
A new twist is the blizzard watch that has been issued for a good chunk of North and South Dakota for tomorrow.
It actually won't snow much, maybe an inch or less of additional accumulation. But winds gusting to 45 mph will take the snow that's already there and create what's known as a ground blizzard.
In the open country of the Plains, winds will whip snow across roads so visibility is zero. The sun might be shining above, but you can't see anything in front of you. That's very dangerous in rural areas where nobody is around to help you if you get stuck amid subzero temperatures and wind chills in the 30s below zero.
Elsewhere, hard freeze warnings are up in the Deep South as the cold spreads south into Dixie.
Next week, the cold will ease, at least for awhile in most parts of the country as the weather pattern changes in a way that would discourage the worst of the Arctic air to plunge into the nation.