Where’s Your Jacket? October Chill Fast on the Way

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Not only did I contemplate grabbing a jacket this morning (the first time this season), but I spent this past weekend vastly unprepared for the weather that descended upon northeast Texas. Not a good thing for the local meteorologist, but I’ve had a lot of experience dealing with the consequences of leaving the house unprepared for the cold or the rain (friends can be merciless in their taunting!).

Well-below normal temperatures are expected to begin later this week and next week for a wide swath of the U.S. including the Plains, the Upper Mississippi River Valley, the Great Lakes and the Midwest. Image: NOAA

I must admit, living on the Gulf Coast has spoiled me. Even as a meteorologist, I know that as we move into the fall season I can blow a jacket/no jacket call and not suffer too much, or for too long. There’s a saying in Texas (common in other areas too, I know) that says, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes and it will change.” For me, I’ve tweaked it to “If you forget your jacket in the morning, it’s OK because it will be 80 by lunch.” Likewise, rain doesn’t typically stick around for days at a time.

By this coming Saturday night a strong high pressure system will have become centered over Kansas as it drives a strong early-season cold front across most of the U.S.

But it is October, after all. And that means the cold air is on the move and beginning to push into places it hasn’t touched since last spring. The U.S. has already had three or four bursts of chilliness (a relative term, I admit), but it looks like a significant cool-down is within sight. In fact, snow is possible as early as this Friday for the northern Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi River Valley, while temperatures into the 30s move as far south as Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio by later this weekend. With that in mind, consider that average overnight temperatures this week for places like St Louis and Indianapolis are in the lower 50s, while the average low temperatures for October as a whole are in the mid-40s for Indy and about 49 for St. Louis (average first freeze date for Indianapolis: 10/16; St. Louis: 10/20).

Is this a sign that the coming winter will be unusually cold or long-lasting, or that the snow will be relentless? No. ImpactWeather’s 90-day outlooks for temperature and precipitation should above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation for the regions about to get their first real taste of winter. Even the seasonal outlooks that extend the forecast through March suggest slightly above normal temperatures and near-normal precipitation.

ImpactWeather’s Temperature Outlook through the end of December shows temperatures trending toward the warmer side of normal for the same area about to experience some early season cold. Impact: ImpactWeather

As for this morning, I didn’t grab my jacket and it’s a sunny 80 degrees at this hour. Nice! But as for this past weekend, it was a seemingly never-ending rain event I didn’t put enough credence into and I got soaked…good thing I don’t live in Minnesota at this time of year.

ImpactWeather’s Precipitation Outlook suggests below normal precipitation for areas well-known for high accumulations – the Great Lakes and the Pacific Northwest. PS – the Great Snow Machine of the Great Lakes, also known as lake-effect snow, shuts down once the lakes ice-over. Image: ImpactWeather

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