WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Climbing Out of the Deep Freeze

Jan 6, 2014

It’s been frigid since an arctic cold front surged through the region over the weekend. But we won’t remain in the deep freeze for long.

Dr Tom Williams, Associate Professor of Geography at Western Illinois University, said the upper air pattern will change over the course of the week.

“So by the end of the week we should be back above freezing,” said Williams.

He said light snow is possible Wednesday, and rain or a mixture of rain and snow is possible later in the week.

As for extreme cold, Williams said a strong high pressure system from the north was at the core of the arctic cold front.

“The only way that we get really cold air – what constitutes an arctic outbreak – is when our upper air flow becomes oriented pretty much due out of the north. So we’re actually pulling air down here that is originating from the North Pole or at least from the arctic,” Williams said.

He said the region probably gets one or two arctic outbreaks every winter, but they’re usually not of the magnitude of the current system.

Williams said the area received five to eight inches of snow over the weekend. He said that much snow, combined with high winds, created dangerous travel conditions, similar to the winter storm that hit in December 2012.

And he said January 2009 was the last time it got this cold in the region.