If you don't like cold weather, you might want to think about taking a vacation at a more southerly location during the next few weeks. The cold weather making pattern that has evolved during the past few weeks across North America is still going strong and we don't see many signs that it will change soon.
A strong ridge across the eastern Pacific to the Gulf of Alaska appears that it has found a home and we don't see this changing very much for the remainder of December. This ridge blocks any modifying influence of the Pacific Ocean across Western Canada or the U.S. and allows for a downstream polar vortex to remain dominant across central Canada.
This is a pattern that can produce significant amounts of arctic air across North America and allow it to cycle southward through the Prairies into the U.S. It has been a few years since we have observed such a pattern and if it continues to persist into January, the low temperatures will become more and more notable due to the persistence.
Some of the latest monthly forecasts for January are now starting to change their tune from a mild scenario to a cold one for Western Canada to the north-central U.S. If these forecasts pan out, we should continue to see episodes of bitter cold arctic air well into January. Some of these air masses can contain nighttime temperatures below minus 40 C degrees for some areas.
Precipitation prospects for the Prairies with a well-established cold pattern like this tend to be on the light side for Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan with a little better chance for some light, fluffy snow at times for Alberta. Any snow would come with fast-moving clipper systems which allow for some moisture to overrun the cold air that is in place across the region.
Doug Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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