An invasion of Arctic air will plunge temperatures to their lowest levels since last winter, and may set the stage for the biggest lake-effect snow event so far this season in the Midwest.
This week's deep freeze can come as a shock to Midwestern residents who have not experienced an extreme cold snap since Nov. 10-13. During this stretch, single-digit lows were recorded in Minneapolis.
The upcoming cold push will prove to be more intense, longer-lasting and even dangerous for people and animals who are outside for long length's of time.
The cold will come rocketing southward out of Canada as a swath of snow spreads from west to east across the Northern tier states from Sunday night into Monday night.
"Very cold Arctic air will plunge southward into the northern and central Plains Sunday night through Monday and into the Great Lakes and Midwest Monday and Tuesday," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jack Boston said.
Boston expects some locations from the eastern Dakotas to Minnesota and northern Wisconsin to remain below zero degrees for a period of 24-48 hours from Monday night into Wednesday night.
To make matters worse, the combination of the frigid air, wind and other factors will result in AccuWeather RealFeel Temperatures 10-30 degrees below zero across the northern Plains and Upper Midwest on Tuesday and Wednesday.
People spending any length of time outdoors will need to make sure they are properly dressed for such frigid conditions.
Ensure pets are not kept outside too long and outdoor animals have proper shelter and warmth.
The air will lose a bit of its sting as it surges farther south and east through midweek, but it may be every bit as shocking for people across the Ohio Valley and Northeast to step outside following a mild beginning to the week.
"By Wednesday, actual high temperatures are forecast to range from the subzero and single digits in northern Minnesota to the upper 30s in the lower Ohio Valley," Sosnowski said.
"Even people along the central Gulf coast will feel some chill with highs in the upper 50s to near 60 on Wednesday," he added.Lake-effect snow to crank up amid the deep freeze
The frigid air pouring over the milder and unfrozen Great Lakes will trigger lake-effect snow bands downstream.
"We expect this to be the most substantial lake-effect snow event of the season so far throughout the Great Lakes region," AccuWeather Broadcast Meteorologist Laura Velasquez said.
The places that get clobbered with heavy snow and difficult travel will depend on where the snow bands set up and how long they sit over a particular area.
"Steering winds will tend to cause the snow bands to shift around over time, but some areas are still likely to get clobbered by a foot or more of snow," Velasquez added.
People with travel plans around the Great Lakes during the middle part of the week should keep in mind that their journey could become difficult and dangerous due to reduced visibility and snow-packed roads.
Poor driving conditions are likely at times along stretches of interstates 75, 81, 86 and 90.
The lake-effect snow is forecast to shut off during the latter half of the week as winds calm underneath an area of high pressure.
All eyes will then be on a storm forecast to form in the Gulf of Mexico and ride up the East coast during the middle of the month. Depending on its exact strength and track, this storm can bring a wide range of impacts to the area.