WASHINGTON — Much of America is about to get the Arctic shivers.
Meteorologists are confidently forecasting frigid polar air will plunge south into the northern plains, Midwest and then the East Coast from next Tuesday through Thursday. The Midwest should see temperatures well below zero, with single digit lows in much of the East and freezing temperatures as far south as Atlanta, New Orleans and parts of Florida.
National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Kocin, an expert on winter storms, said it is a classic pattern of massive blasts of Arctic air hitting just about everyone east of the Rockies. He said it will rival last year's January Arctic outbreak that introduced the phrase "polar vortex" to America.
"This is going to be a big cold outbreak, pretty windy as well," Kocin said. "It's going to drive all the way down south."
The wind and cold could mean wind-chill factors that will make the temperature feel like 30 degrees below zero — 50 degrees below zero in Minneapolis and Chicago, said meteorologist Ryan Maue of the private Weather Bell Analytics. He called it "old-timer's type of cold."
Kocin predicts a small Midwestern band of intense snow along with the cold, with some also in parts of the Northeast.
Even though it is several days in advance, meteorologists are pretty sure about this forecast. Kocin said many of the best computer models are saying the same thing.
This is all coming from cold air escaping from the Arctic. The center of the cold air will be around Quebec, Canada, where temperatures — not wind chill — may plunge as low as 40 degrees below zero, Maue said.
National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center: http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/index.shtml
Seth Borenstein can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears