Damaging freezes to hit central US as cold pattern lingers

Jessica Storm
·3 min read

A winterlike chill has made its presence felt across the Central states this week, and it doesn't look like the cold air will relinquish its grip any time soon. A fresh shot of cold air is expected to sweep across the central United States early next week before it travels into the East.

Temperatures in the Plains have been below normal for several days this week. Denver reported a chilling low of 22 degrees Fahrenheit this past Sunday night, which is 10 degrees below average for mid-April for the Mile High City.

This image, captured early Thursday morning on April 15, 2021, shows temperatures across the central U.S. dipping to around freezing. (AccuWeather)

Denver's temperature didn't reach above 50 F Wednesday, which is also about 10 degrees below normal. Oklahoma City reported a high of 57 F Wednesday, though the city usually sits at about 72 F during this time of year.

Early Thursday morning, temperatures across the northern Plains dove to near or even below freezing point in several cities, including Bismarck, North Dakota; and Pierre, South Dakota. This almost nightly freeze is forecast to stick around.

Temperatures dipped to frosty levels across Rockies and into parts of the Dakotas and northern Minnesota on Friday morning.

Residents across the Plains can expect temperatures to remain below normal through the first half of the weekend.

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"Temperature departures for the Plains and Mississippi Valley will be well below normal, nearly 10-18 degrees Fahrenheit below normal," AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said. Temperatures can reach the freezing point across southern Kansas, central Missouri and northern Illinois over the weekend.

Omaha, Nebraska, is expected to dip close to freezing and several degrees below normal at 34 F Saturday night. Residents of Bismarck, North Dakota, can anticipate low temperatures of 30 F or lower all weekend. All while states on the Pacific Coast will be experiencing unseasonably warm weather.

Flowers and crops can face damage or even destruction if temperatures fall below freezing for multiple hours over a period of several nights.

"Residents and farmers who have already planted fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to the cold, such as tomatoes, may be wise to cover them up on nights when temperatures dip into the mid-30s F. However, many areas will even have temperatures below 32 F on the coldest nights." said AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson.

A small warmup will take place across much of the Plains Sunday and Monday as the cold air moves eastward. Temperatures will likely attempt to rise, but AccuWeather forecasters suggest many cities may remain below normal.

However, right on the heels of that warmup will be not only the new batch of cold air but also the next opportunity for snow for portions of the Rockies and northern Plains.

Overall, cool, stable air will dominate much of the South from Texas to the interior Southeast next week, according to Pastelok. This can "put a lid" on widespread severe weather.

Surface high pressure areas are likely to build southeastward from central Canada next week as the jet stream gets into position, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. There will be multiple risks of frosts and freezes for the Central and interior Eastern states.

"The surface highs will be key for allowing skies to clear and winds to drop off," Sosnowski said.

A strong cold front with some snow and rain will dive south across the Midwest and Plains early in the week, according to Pastelok. A fresh surge of chilly air is forecast to spread from the Plains to the Northeast during this period.

Various plants will still be vulnerable to this extreme chill, and some residents of the Plains and Midwest may feel the need to turn their heat back on overnight.

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