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Say it ain't snow: 2 winter storms, then an Arctic blast from the 'fractured' polar vortex

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 1/16/2019 Doyle Rice
a car covered in snow: A car gets stuck in the snow on Cascade Road in Forest Park, Ohio Sunday January 13, 2019. Four inches of snow has fallen in the northern suburbs of Cincinnati, as snow continues to fall. (Via OlyDrop) © Cara Owsley, The Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK A car gets stuck in the snow on Cascade Road in Forest Park, Ohio Sunday January 13, 2019. Four inches of snow has fallen in the northern suburbs of Cincinnati, as snow continues to fall. (Via OlyDrop)

Any hopes we had for a mild end to January appear to be over.

Just as the western storm onslaught is ending, a pair of winter storms will dump snow and ice across the central and eastern U.S. over the next several days, with the second storm a potential blockbuster in some spots, with a foot of snow possible.

Then, courtesy of our old friend the Polar Vortex, an icy blast of bitterly cold air straight from the Arctic will freeze most of the eastern U.S. next week. Unfortunately for warm weather fans, it's only a preview of what forecasters are calling a brutal, punishing stretch of intense cold that should last well into February.

As for this week's storms, while the first one will be more of a nuisance, the second one will be a "major snowstorm," according to AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno.  

The first one will sweep through the Midwest and into the Northeast starting late Wednesday and ending early Friday. Cities such as Detroit, Buffalo, Albany and Boston  can expect light snow (1-3 inches) and slippery travel from this storm, AccuWeather said. A few school delays and closures are possible.

The second, more powerful storm will bring heavy snow from the upper Midwest to the Great Lakes to northern New England. Cities such as Cleveland, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Burlington, Vermont, may see a foot or more of snow. The snow should miss the big cities of the I-95 corridor from Boston to Washington, D.C.

Then, the cold: A blast of arctic air, the coldest of the season, is headed into the central and eastern U.S. late this week into the weekend, part of a colder pattern change right on cue with what is typically the coldest time of the year, Weather Channel meteorologist Chris Dolce said.

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The temperature in Kansas City at the kickoff of the AFC Championship Game Sunday night will be about 6 degrees, with a wind chill of about 3 below zero, the National Weather Service predicts.

The cold is partly due to the fracturing of the polar vortex earlier this month, which has slowly pushed unspeakably frigid air from the Arctic into the U.S. 

By Monday morning, much of the upper Midwest will see below-zero temperatures, while temperatures will dip below freezing all the way to the Gulf Coast. These readings are some 15-20 degrees below normal in the Southeast, and about 20 to 30 degrees below normal in the Great Lakes and Northeast, according to weather.us meteorologist Ryan Maue.

And the snow and cold has only gotten started: "This is a going to be a wild, wintry ride for the eastern U.S. during the end of January," said Michael Ventrice. a meteorological scientist at the IBM-owned Weather Company.

More chilling: Once this wintry pattern becomes entrenched, it may be difficult to dislodge, Judah Cohen, a researcher at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, told the Capital Weather Gang.

“These impacts can last four to six, and maybe eight, weeks,” said Cohen.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Say it ain't snow: 2 winter storms, then an Arctic blast from the 'fractured' polar vortex

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