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Polar vortex expected to return next week

Following a respite from record-breaking cold earlier in the month, arctic air, courtesy of the polar vortex, is due back next week with highs predicted in the 20s on Long Island for possibly a five-day span, forecasters say.

Look for the week's warmest temperatures to be around 40 on Monday, which "opens the gates to true arctic air for the whole week," said Tim Morrin, National Weather Service meteorologist based in Upton.

Unlike the earlier frigid snap, temperatures will arrive more gradually than the 48-degree drop in a 24-hour period, from Jan. 6 to 7, he said.

As of Friday, precipitation was not expected, with storm activity looking to be well to the north or east of Long Island, he said. Still, conditions could change, paving the way for potential storminess.

Highs are expected to be around 24, Tuesday; 22, Wednesday; and 25, Thursday, he said, with lows of 11 degrees Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Winds are expected, "but not ferocious," said Bill Korbel, News 12 Long Island meteorologist. Subzero wind chills are likely, especially Tuesday night into Wednesday, he said. Still, the numbers don't appear to be encroaching on any low-temperature records, said Morrin. After all, "it is mid-January, the climatologically coldest time of the year."

From Jan. 3 to 8, five records at Long Island MacArthur Airport were broken due to the cold.

With an eye to this weekend, there's a 50 percent chance of scattered rain/snow showers early Saturday, lingering to midmorning and expected to produce at most a "whitening" on grassy areas, Morrin said. Sunday morning sees a 20 percent chance of snow showers.

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