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Polar vortex may bring snow, cold before Thanksgiving

The polar vortex is coming our way.

AccuWeather says the polar vortex, a storm that typically hangs out in the Arctic Circle, is expected to shift and bring a significant storm with rain, snow and wind to our region during the days before Thanksgiving.

Occasionally, this storm gets dislodged or splits into multiple parts. When this happens, arctic air can push southward to the mid-latitude regions anywhere around the globe.

“One such southward displacement of arctic air is in progress and will sweep across the upper Midwest and Northeast into this weekend,” according to AccuWeather lead long-range meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

“A second southward displacement is possible around the days prior to Thanksgiving (Nov. 18-22),” Pastelok said.

When cold air drops southward across the Midwest and into the East, a major storm can be spawned.

The area along the Atlantic Seaboard is often a perfect breeding ground for storms in situations like this, according to Accu­Weather meteorologist Evan Duffey.

“The clash between the arriving arctic air and the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean could help instigate a major storm several days before Thanksgiving,” Duffey said.

There could be major travel problems should the storm grab the cold air fast enough to produce heavy snow inland and heavy rain and wind on the coast. Beginning next weekend, travel typically ramps up as some people begin to head to Thanksgiving destinations.

The magnitude and path of the cold air as well as the exact formation and track of the storm may become clear later next week.

Based on climatology, accumulating snow is much more likely to occur over the higher elevations from north and west of Interstate 95 to the Appalachians into the first part of winter. This is due to the impact of the relatively warm Atlantic Ocean.

“There is the risk for the first major snowstorm somewhere in the Northeast during the period from Saturday, Nov. 18, to Tuesday, Nov. 22,” Pastelok said.

People with travel plans should continue to monitor the forecast leading up to Thanksgiving travel.

Regardless of the storm potential, people planning on traveling by car this Thanksgiving should make sure their vehicle is prepared for winter travel conditions. A set of tires with decent tread, new wiper blades and adequate fluids are a good start in advance of the trip.

This weekend will be cold, with temperatures tonight dipping to 15 degrees. The high temperature for Veterans Day ceremonies Saturday will be 39 degrees.

Sunday, the high temperature is expected to reach 44 degrees.

This map by AccuWeather shows the potential impact of a shift in the polar vortex.