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High-pressure system responsible for below-freezing temperatures

Thursday, January 24, 2008 | 9:15 p.m. CST; updated 7:08 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Jonas Likos, 4, waits with his mom, Holly Likos, at U.S. Grant Elementary school on Thursday to pick up his older brother, Ben Likos, 6. The Likos family lives close to the school. "If Jonas can handle it (the weather) then we walk," Holly Likos said.

COLUMBIA — Despite temperatures dropping to 1 Thursday, Lowell Branham was still walking his downtown route in the bitter cold. A mail carrier for 20 years, Branham was dressed in what seemed only a postal uniform,but he has a secret for staying warm: “I don’t buy cheap long underwear,” Branham said.

On the MU campus, Ron Harrison was moving a water heater into the Fine Arts building in jeans, overcoat, two pairs of gloves and a stocking cap.

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“The other guys wear overalls,” Harrison said, “but I just wear jeans because it’s my ears that get cold.”

Yes, it was cold Thursday.

The day began with a pre-dawn temperature of 1. By 10 a.m., it had risen to 8. By noon, it was 13, and at 3 p.m. the day’s high was 19.

“The coldest temperature on this date was minus 15 degrees in 1894,” said Benjamin Sipprell, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in St. Louis. The record high for this day was 78 degrees in 1950, he said.

“The last couple of days have been below normal,” Sipprell said.

This week’s low temperatures can be attributed to an Arctic air mass, a high-pressure system that has moved south out of northern Canada, he said.

The air mass remains solid and continues to draw down cold air. However, Sipprell said, warm air coming up from the south will help warm up this weekend.

Friday’s temperature is predicted to reach 33. Saturday’s temperature should rise to 47, and Sunday should reach 52. After the weekend, temperatures are predicted to remain above freezing, but the Arctic air mass is a pattern that is likely to return, Sipprell said.

Rachel Smeda contributed to this story.


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