Dangerous cold to ring in 2019 in north-central US, Rockies after snow ends 2018


Another round of snow and treacherous travel is in store for the north-central United States and the Rockies in the final days of 2018 before the coldest air so far this winter plunges in.

In the wake of the snowstorms that ended Christmas week, a new storm will drop into the Northwest with rain, interior snow and gusty winds this weekend.

Winds can gust between 60 and 80 mph around Great Falls and Cut Bank, Montana, on Saturday. Such winds can cause damage and sporadic power outages. Dangerous crosswinds threaten to overturn high-profile vehicles, including those planning to travel on Interstate 15.

NW Dec 28

A surge of milder air ahead of the storm this weekend may give many from the Front Range of the Rockies to the Plains a false sense of hope for comfortable conditions to ring in the new year.

However, the passage of the storm will open the door for the coldest air so far this winter to dash those hopes.

Along the leading edge of the impending Arctic blast, snow will sweep southward across the Rocky Mountains Sunday into Monday.

Rockies snow 12.29 AM

A fresh 6-12 inches of snow is anticipated for most of the higher terrain. Enough snow to create slippery travel conditions can also fall in Billings, Montana; Casper and Cheyenne, Wyoming; Salt Lake City; and Denver.

On New Year's Day, it may be a near repeat of snow for the areas that were hit with this Friday's snowstorm around New Mexico, Albuquerque included.

Wind-blown snow can also streak eastward across the North Central states Sunday into Monday night.

Residents and holiday visitors from Rapid City, South Dakota, and Bismarck, North Dakota, to Minneapolis, Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Marquette, Michigan, can be faced with another period of disruptions to travel and holiday plans.

In the wake of the snow, winter's onslaught will continue across the Rockies and North Central states as the bitter cold takes hold.

Static US RFT 10 am

"Arctic air moving into Montana and the rest of the northern Rockies will bring the coldest air of the winter season thus far, right in time for the end of 2018," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.

"Those who are outside Monday night for New Year's Eve in places such as Great Falls or Billings, Montana, will have to brave single-digit temperatures with AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures between minus 10 and 20 F," he added.

Even more dangerous conditions await revelers who venture out across the northern Plains.

RealFeel® Temperatures can plummet to around minus 30 in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and minus 40 in Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota, on Monday evening.

In such conditions, frostbite can occur on exposed skin in less than 30 minutes.

While temperatures may rebound slightly across the northern Rockies to start the new year, subzero highs are anticipated to grip most of the eastern Dakotas and Minnesota on Tuesday. If Minneapolis records a high above zero on New Year's Day, it will not be by much.

Residents may remember how the first day of 2018 had similar bitterly low high temperatures.

Gusty winds from Monday and Monday night should lessen for Tuesday, preventing RealFeel® Temperatures from being dramatically lower than actual temperatures.

Bitter cold Dec 28

Regardless, residents and revelers should be sure to properly bundle up before spending any time outdoors early next week. Even though roads may be cleared of snow, be sure to have a winter survival kit in your vehicle in case any incident leaves you stranded until help arrives.

Ensure that animals have proper shelter and warmth.

The harshest conditions to start 2019 are anticipated over the northern Plains, but subfreezing high temperatures will have those in Chicago, St. Louis, Oklahoma City and Lubbock, Texas, shivering on Tuesday.

"The good news is that this Arctic blast will be short-lived," Pydynowski said. "Highs will return to the 40s in Montana, including Great Falls and Billings, and the northern High Plains by later next week."

Temperatures should climb back to near or above freezing in Fargo and Minneapolis at this time.

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