The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

January 20, 2014

Expect bone-chilling nights this week in Limestone

By Budd McGlocklin

— Hope you enjoyed Monday’s beautiful day.

A high temperature around 60 with plenty of sunshine served up the perfect start to the week.

And, oh what a week it will be.

“(Monday was) a good day for outdoor activities if you like January warmth,” according to the National Weather Service’s Huntsville office. 

Though, at least three area volunteer fire departments were out fighting brush fires.

On Monday afternoon, Clements Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jesse Rager said his department had been out to two outside fires and that he knew Owens and Oak Grove-Thach had worked a few as well.

Rager said that people tend to work outside when the weather is nice, but that everything is extremely dry.

He encourages everyone to use extreme caution when burning outside, especially when the weather is breezy.

“With these conditions, the grass goes fast and a fire can get away from you quick,” he said.

Residents might not be doing much yard work for the remainder of the week.

“A cold front will result in highs only in the 30s” through Friday, the weather service said.

Today, the temperature was forecast to be about 25 degrees colder than Monday with mostly cloudy skies and “a few flurries.” Lows tonight will dip into the mid-teens with highs Wednesday, Thursday and Friday only reaching the upper 30s.

Once again, as happened a couple weeks ago, a polar front is diving farther south than normal, causing our temperatures to be about 15 to 20 degrees below the daily normal of 50 to 51 degrees for this time of year.

Just as we were seeing some “sticker shock” with recent electric bills, we will likely see the same thing next month when those bills come due. However, forecasters don’t foresee a repeat of single-digit temperatures, as we had, but are calling it “a normal cold event you'd see in a typical winter.”

Just be glad we don’t live along the U.S.-Canada border. Residents there could see overnight lows in the negative double digits while parts of Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine were under wind chill warnings, meaning wind chills could be 34 degrees below zero or colder.

The culprit responsible for this is anything but typical, though. A ridge that is causing the cold front to slide to the south and east from Canada is also keeping the Southwest in a record-setting drought and creating the conditions for the wildfires that have been plaguing California in recent weeks.

Our weather, according to the National Weather Service, will be in this pattern for the next couple weeks. We could also see more precipitation than normal over the next couple weeks.

So, don’t put away the coats or heaters anytime soon.

— Lora Scripps contributed to this story.