An overnight low near zero and single-digit high temperatures expected today are giving the region a preview of even colder weather arriving early next week.
“I think there is pretty good confidence that one of the coldest air masses in years is going to descend on the region,” AccuWeather meteorologist Brian Edwards said.
After today’s frigid cold, temperatures are expected to moderate somewhat, climbing into the 30s over the weekend before a wicked cold front sweeps in Sunday night and into Monday, Edwards said.
Blizzard conditions and 8 inches of snow are in the forecast Sunday night, followed by record cold on Monday and Tuesday nights.
“It turns very cold on Monday,” Edwards said. “Temperatures will be falling through the day. Some places will have record cold.”
It should reach zero around Johnstown by sunset Monday and continue getting colder through the night. If Sunday night’s winds subside, the low is expected to bottom out around 15 below zero Monday into Tuesday morning, shattering a record low of minus 4 degrees recorded in 1942 in downtown Johnstown.
Continued wind could hold low temperatures up a little, but the windchill factor would offset the slightly higher readings.
“Even if it just gets below zero and the winds don’t die down, it is going to feel just as cold,” Edwards said.
The culprit is a weather pattern forming near the North Pole, which has its sights set on western Pennsylvania.
“Behind the cold front, a tremendous blast of Arctic air comes in with a high pressure system out of Canada,” Edwards said. “This air mass is coming directly from the western provinces and the Arctic Ocean.”
The most brutal weather won’t last long, he added. Although the word “warm” won’t be used anytime soon, temperatures are expected to become more typical for January later next week.
Randy Griffith covers health care for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.