2019 WINTER WEATHER

Polar vortex gives us the cold shoulder again

March expected to arrive with another arctic blast

Water vapor rises Jan. 30 from the Cedar River around the Veterans Memorial Building as the sun rises in Cedar Rapids. Like it did then, a polar vortex is expected to return in the coming days, plunging Eastern Iowa and much of the nation down to temperatures that are up to 35 degrees lower than normal. 

(Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Water vapor rises Jan. 30 from the Cedar River around the Veterans Memorial Building as the sun rises in Cedar Rapids. Like it did then, a polar vortex is expected to return in the coming days, plunging Eastern Iowa and much of the nation down to temperatures that are up to 35 degrees lower than normal. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Here it comes again.

The polar vortex, which usually keeps bitter cold temperatures swirling around the arctic, will break apart again in the coming days and send blasts dipping deep into the continental United States — and dropping Eastern Iowa forecasts some 30 to 35 degrees below normal.

The highs above freezing that ushered in March 2018 here will seem so, well, last year.

“As of now, the coldest night looks to be Sunday night where lows will drop to 10 below to 15 below in our north,” the Quad Cities district of the National Weather Service warned Tuesday. “This will be near-record territory for some locations. Also, during this period either wind chill advisories or warnings may be needed, possibly for several nights.”

If that forecast holds, it will be close to a record: The coldest March temperature on record for Cedar Rapids was 20 below on March 1, 1962.

March certainly won’t come in like a lamb this year. But whether it will bring much more snow along with the cold is less certain to forecasters.

Some freezing drizzle and light accumulations of snow are likely by morning, the weather service says, and maybe some gain Friday.

But then forecasting models disagree on the next snow event. For Eastern Iowa, the odds for snowfall during the first week of March are well below average.

For a typical March in the Corridor, the temperature averages about 37 degrees and snowfall averages a little more than 3 inches.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Like the last polar vortex in late January, this one will bring cold, too. But unlike the previous one, probably not a lot more snow to Eastern Iowa — at least for now.

This polar vortex is likely to plunge most of the continental United States for below usual for the first week of March.

It’s possible that every state except perhaps Georgia, South Carolina and Florida will face high temperatures at or below freezing during this stretch.

On Monday and Tuesday, there could be a period with temperatures 20 to 40 degree below normal encompassing a third of the country — from Montana to Wisconsin, then sweeping south across most of the central United States.

The cold ultimately is expected to make it to the Mexico border with Texas and into the Gulf of Mexico.

With a few days still left in February, the weather service has not issued its final climate report for the month.

But a running tally for the first 25 days of the month show the average temperature for Cedar Rapids of 18.1 degrees was 5.8 degrees colder that normal.

Of those 25 days, 24 of them dipped to freezing or below. But only nine of those hit zero or less.

The Washington Post contributed.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.