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Monday's cold isn't here to stay, forecast says

News 12 Long Island meteorologist Rich Hoffman described Monday as "windy and frigid." A wind advisory is in effect through 7 p.m. Monday, with the potential for gusts up to 50 mph from the northwest.  Credit: News 12 Long Island

Super cold to start this week — the coldest air so far this winter? Absolutely.

But it’s not lasting much longer — plus, Long Island has seen colder, still.

Early morning Tuesday is expected to see temperatures dip once again to the single digits, as in zero to 5 degrees, said Carlie Buccola, National Weather Service meteorologist in Upton, on Monday evening. 

That comes on the heels of Monday morning’s plunge at Long Island MacArthur Airport to a frigid 6 degrees at just around 9 a.m. (And that’s not even counting the wind chill that made it feel more like minus 7!)

Monday, Martin Luther King Day, saw temperatures rise only as far as 14 degrees at the airport, where the normal high for the day is 38 degrees, with 23 the normal low. 

Thanks to the cold, Monday also featured waterspout concerns for mariners, with a special marine warning for the eastern Long Island Sound, Moriches Inlet to Montauk Point and Peconic and Gardiners bays. That was due to “very cold air moving out over the waters around eastern Long Island” producing isolated waterspouts, the weather service said.

Likewise, some areas of eastern Suffolk, including the weather service’s Upton office, had seen ocean and sound effect snow — more frequently associated with the Great Lakes as lake effect snow. These light snowflakes come about “as extremely cold air moves over the relatively warm waters” of the Sound and ocean, said Joe Pollina, also a weather service meteorologist.

As for Monday’s piercing and dangerous temperatures, the Island has certainly seen worse. If we look back to 1984, we find Jan. 21 and 22 delivering lows of minus 3 and minus 7 respectively.

This frigid cold comes courtesy of an air mass of arctic origins, the weather service said, and is making a brief visit.

On Monday a low pressure was moving off the shore of New England, with cold air coming in from the north, Buccola said. 

A high pressure was building in from the arctic over the Northeast, which is to keep conditions “very cold” into Tuesday morning, she said.

On Monday, with the low pulling away and the high building in, Long Island found itself right in between the two systems, with a pressure gradient leading to gusty winds that were enhancing the already cold temperatures.

The weather service reported wind hitting 57 mph in Bayville and 64 mph in Middle Island on Monday afternoon. 

By Tuesday afternoon, “temperatures and wind chills will both moderate … as the core of the arctic air mass bringing us this cold begins to slide east,” the weather service said.

Look for highs Tuesday in the mid 20s, with Wednesday and Thursday looking at well-above normal highs in the mid-40s or so.

Wednesday also brings slight chances of a wintry mix in the morning, changing to rain, lasting through Thursday, the weather service said.

Still, don’t put away the scarves and triple layers yet, as this cold blast isn’t a one-shot deal.

The Climate Prediction Center sees a 60 to 70 percent probability for temperatures to average out at below normal for January 29 through February 4 in our part of the Northeast, though there’s no call as to how much colder. That also comes along with a slight tilt favoring above normal precipitation.

“As can often happen this time of year,” we’re in an amplified pattern, meaning active and potentially stormy, said Jase Bernhardt, assistant professor and head of Hofstra University’s new meteorology minor program.

“So that can allow rapid shifts in temperature, as the deep troughs of low pressure and ridges of high pressure swing through.”

With Matthew Chayes

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