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Below Zero: Key ingredients in tonight’s potential sub-zero temperatures

Our first arctic outbreak of 2020 has certainly been a powerful one across mid-Missouri. However, when you compare it to the past 3 winters, we're running a bit behind.

2014, the year of the polar vortex featured nearly 10 occurrences of sub-zero temperatures from November to March, 5 in the meteorological winter season. That year remains king.

Historically, sub-zero temperatures are fairly uncommon. Our chance to see sub-zero temperatures is actually fairly low when we assess the data we have from Columbia Regional Airport.

In any given year, we only a 3% chance to break the goose egg.

The bitter cold takes several different factors coming together for optimal cooling. If even one of these aren't present it can be very difficult to get below zero at this latitude.

Snow pack acts to keep the surface cold. Meanwhile clear skies and calm winds, products of high pressure, allow for efficient transfer of heat from the surface of the earth into space.

High pressure is expected to park DIRECTLY overhead tonight. This will lead to the clearest skies and calmest winds right on top of mid-Missouri through Friday morning.

The National Weather Service mentioned in their area forecast discussion that tonight will yield IDEAL conditions for maximum cooling overnight.

With today's high only 12 at COU, we're expecting the low to be at or below zero by Friday morning.

-Luke

Insider Blog

Luke Victor

Luke Victor gives forecasts on ABC 17 News broadcasts and reports on weather stories on air and online, giving viewers and readers a deeper look at what causes different types of weather.

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