Salomon Smith Barney Sees 'Brrr-utal' Chill This Week

If you think it was frigid last week, it's going to be downright "brutal" in much of the nation this week, according to a short-term weather forecast issued by Salomon Smith Barney.

For this week, Salomon Smith Barney has predicted that a "massive Arctic air mass surging from the Polar regions" will hit the United States. "This air mass is extremely impressive and is expected to be in the range of about 1,050 MB [millibars] when it moves into the Northern Rockies. This is easily in the category of a Polar Pig," said meteorologists Jon B. Davis and Mark Russo. A pig is the "ultimate Arctic air mass."

That means it's going to be "big time" cold, Davis noted. "...[W]e have not had an Arctic air mass this strong move into the lower 48 during the past four winters," the Salomon Smith meteorologists said. The National Weather Service confirmed a massive cold wave would be descending across the nation this week.

"One of the other impressive features of this Pig is that it is very large geographically and thus will influence a huge area. In fact, when all is said and done, it will influence areas from the West Coast to Texas to Florida to the East Coast and everywhere in between."

The Salomon Smith meteorologists said their forecast, which they released last Monday, remained unchanged on Friday. "Everything is the same. The bulk of the cold remains across the western and central U.S. The East Coast will get it on the outer fringes," Russo told NGI. The frigid temperatures will hit the West first, and then move South and East "as you go through the week."

The weather will be coldest in areas "closest to the initial delivery point of the air mass --- Rockies and Plains. If this air mass is close to 1050 MB, there will be some record-setting cold in portions of the Rockies and the Plains, which is something we have not had in the middle of winter for a very long time," said Davis and Russo in their forecast last Monday.

In fact, they predict that temperatures in the region could be 15 to 25 degrees below normal throughout the week, and will be accompanied by "extremely stormy conditions in the Central U.S. as two major winter storms move out of the southern Rockies toward the Great Lakes [this] week." The temperatures in the eastern U.S. will not be as "extreme" as those in the West, the meteorologists said in a follow-up forecast. "Even still, much of the eastern U.S. will see cold weather surge in by later in the week."

Although the air mass will lose some of its intensity at it moves south and eastward, Salomon Smith Barney predicts that between Dec. 11 and 16 no area of the nation will have normal or above-normal temperatures. The meteorologists see another cold air mass moving into the "middle of the country" during the weekend of Dec. 16-17, but they believe it will be less intense.

"Obviously, the middle of December is going to be a period of exceptionally high heating demand," they noted. "In fact, the vast majority of the nation will have above-normal heating demands during the next two weeks. This means that the cold pattern, which began during the second week of November, will last at least six weeks. The U.S. has not had a six-week stretch of cold weather in the winter since the mid-1990s."

While last week wasn't as cold in comparison, it wasn't anything to sneeze at either, Russo and Davis said. They had predicted that a "moderately strong Arctic air mass" would descend on the North Plains, Gulf Coast and East Coast regions last week --- a forecast that was pretty much on the mark.

Susan Parker

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