Weather folklore describes March as “in like a lion, out like a lamb,” but the latter won’t hold true this year in the eastern U.S. as a blast of arctic air engulfs much of the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast by early next week.
A sharp southward dip in the jet stream will set up over the East during March’s final week and send temperatures crashing to levels more typical of the heart of winter.
Beginning this weekend, highs will range from 10 to 25 degrees colder than average in the Great Lakes and the central Appalachians, with overnight lows dipping to between 10 and 15 degrees below average. The winterlike chill will spread toward the East Coast on Monday and Tuesday.
Sunday’s high temperatures won’t get out of the 20s and 30s from the upper Midwest to the Great Lakes and parts of the interior Northeast.
The forecast high of 35 degrees in Chicago on Sunday is more typical of Valentine’s Day than March 27. Buffalo, New York, on Sunday likely won’t even get above the freezing mark, which is the city’s average high in early February.
The coldest air will be parked over the Northeast by Monday.
Buffalo will struggle to even reach 30 degrees Monday afternoon. That’s colder than its average-high temperature of 31 degrees during the coldest part of winter in late January.
It won’t be much “warmer” in New York City, where Monday’s projected high of 37 degrees also won’t even achieve the city’s coldest average-high temperature of 39 degrees during the second half of January.
Low temperatures early next week could plunge below freezing as far south as the central and southern Appalachians.
Knoxville, Tennessee, residents will be waking up to temperatures around 31 degrees Sunday morning. March 31 is the average date of the last freeze in the East Tennessee city, but the latest final occurrence of 32-degree temperatures there was on May 4, 1986.
Areas as far south as Middle Georgia could dip into at least the upper 30s on Sunday morning.
Below-freezing temperatures are possible as far south as parts of the Carolinas by Monday morning.
Richmond, Virginia, is forecast to fall into the upper 20s. The last sub-30-degree temperature there typically occurs about March 25, so this will be a few days later than average. However, it has fallen into the 20s as late as April 21, 1956, when the mercury bottomed out at 28 degrees.
Monday morning’s lows are expected to be in the teens along the northern tier from the upper Midwest to the Great Lakes and parts of the interior Northeast.
Most of these areas are forecast to warm up to more typical values for this time of year around the middle of next week, but rain showers could accompany the milder temperatures as an area of low pressure sweeps across the eastern half of the nation.