WeatherStorm Tracker Blog


Really-REALLY Cold, But It Could Be Worse…Bill’s Blog January 28

Posted at 10:57 PM, Jan 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-28 22:57:54-05

A quick note and thank you.  Today, January 28th, is my 20th anniversary on air at LEX 18 (my employment anniversary was the 27th, but that was a paperwork day).  It’s hard to believe 20 years have gone by…and gone by so quickly.  The Mecklette was a year and a half when we moved to the Bluegrass in 1999 (the year AFTER the 17″ of a dusting 🙂 )She’ll be graduating from UK in the spring.  More than half of my professional life has been spent as a proud Kentuckian.  It’s amazing how life can work out as I was up for a job in the early 90’s here and if I would have gotten it then, Lexington would have been a stepping stone in my career.  However, as life changes and your needs and family change along with it, when Connie, Olivia and I arrived here back in the 20th century, Lexington was a destination and a place to raise our daughter.  You can’t help where you were born and where you grew up, so I’m a native Chicagoan (and cheer the teams to prove it), but I’ve CHOSEN to live in Lexington and this truly is home.  Thank you so much for watching, listening, laughing and learning each day.  It’s so amazing to meet adults who I saw as kids with Bill’s Weather 101 (just happened again yesterday at the Lexington Music Awards).

Now let’s talk about the cold.  For us, it’s a good solid shot of winter, but nothing like they’re seeing to our north.  If our forecasts hold, we were about the same degree (get it) of cold last year in January.  It’s this thing called winter and it does happen here.

What we really wanted to show you tonight is the absolutely ridiculous cold showing up on the weather maps, and giving just a bit of context.  First off, the true discharge of Arctic air has begun.  It’s not cross polar or Siberian air (although it may have been seeded with some of that a few days ago).  This source region is northwest of Hudson Bay where it’s been running in the 40-60 below air temperature range.

Monday evening
Temperature 10:00 PM Monday

The 0° line is well into Iowa and the -20 isotherm is about to cross into Minnesota.  You can see our plume of warmth that we enjoyed Monday as the blue shooting up through Ohio.  The other thing we wanted to point out is the adage we harp on time and time again.  When Alaska warms in the winter, we get cold.  It’s in the 20’s over most of Alaska.  Now that may not seem warm, but it’s ALASKA and it’s JANUARY.  What is interesting and not shown here is the -40 degree stuff is going to slosh back to Alaska this weekend.  Consequently, we’ll also be warming up next week.  ALWAYS A BALANCE.

Now here’s where it gets stupid cold.  Look at these WIND CHILLS for Wednesday.

Wind Chill Wednesday
Wednesday Morning Wind Chill

It’s showing us in the 10 to 20 below zero range.  We were actually a bit colder than that back in February of 2015 when we got to a -29 wind chill in Lexington.  That’s what they’re seeing in the Midwest tonight.  However, the worst comes Wednesday as the core of the Arctic air mass arrives.  Where you see that green inside the red is where the cold basically broke the model.  The scale didn’t go down that far, but you can see northern Minnesota as -63.  THIS IS NOT NORMAL WINTER STUFF!  Records will fall in a big way with some places setting ALL TIME RECORD LOWS…air temperature, not wind chill.

For us, it’s a glancing blow as the Polar Vortex, and yes that is what THIS is, turns kind of belly up instead of stabbing all the way to the Gulf.  It was said best in the movie The Incredibles, “When everything is special, then nothing is.”  That’s what’s happened here.  The Polar Vortex is a legitimate weather phenomenon that occurs EVERY year, but it’s also primarily a high latitude event.  It does get displaced unusually far southward in our direction this week, and thus the epic cold.  What has happened is that pretty much every decent cold wave is now attributed to the PV and it’s become a marketing name.

What’s also interesting is the balance.  There’s no blocking over by Greenland, so this is now a transitory feature and will lift out as quickly as it arrives.  By early next week, we’ll get another few days of pre springy warmth.

So take care of yourself, your pets, your family and friends, your pipes and your car with this nasty shot and know that the cold air may be temporary this go round, but even as it retreats this weekend, it’s not leaving the field, just going home for a while.

Again, thanks for reading and thanks for watching the last 2 decades.

All the best to you