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Arctic Chill to Reach Panhandle

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It won’t exactly be Chicago with its wind chills of around 40 below zero, but the Florida Panhandle will see frigid weather in its own right the next couple of nights.

After a short bout of rain, a blast of very cold arctic air moves in this evening and will hang around until at least Thursday.

“It’s a low of what we call the ‘Polar Vortex’ moving down into the region, which is just an area of massive colder air. That will move down from Canada that will surge into our region later [Tuesday] night,” says Brandon Black, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mobile.

“We’re going to see temperatures probably in the upper 20s to low 30s on the immediate coast,” said Black. “On some of the barrier islands you could see closer to the low 30s – just below freezing – whereas inland, you could see mid-to-high 20s [Tuesday] night with wind chills probably in the mid- to low 20s overnight.”

While sunny skies will be the rule on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, highs won’t be very high at all – upper 40s and low 50s, generally. But there is some good news. After initial expectations of winter precipitation, the chance of that has evaporated.

“What [precipitation] we did have was in our northern Alabama counties – most of it south of I-65. And along the I-10 corridor it was all cold rain,” said Black. Looks like the skies should be clearing by [Tuesday] afternoon; we don’t expect any more heavy precipitation in the area.”

Residents are being urged to protect themselves and their property against the frigid weather, such as checking on older relatives and neighbors; bringing in outdoor pets and providing shelter for livestock.

“Sensitive plants, you should be covering them or in some way keeping them warm; if they can be brought inside, bring them inside,” Black says. “Pipes could freeze. It’s usually a good habit to have [faucets] on a slight drip overnight just to keep water flowing; that way they don’t freeze and possibly burst.”

Checking the long-term forecast, the area is expected to shake off the cold pretty fast, according to meteorologist Brandon Black.

“Probably have about two days of the real cold temperatures, but eventually building up into the weekend,” says Brandon Black at the NWS. “Into the weekend [it] should start to warm up some; in the next week we’re looking at above-average temperatures for this area this time of the year.”

Highs by Friday are forecast to climb back into the 60s, with 70s for the weekend. Lows should moderate back to the 40s and 50s.