Cold weather to last through Friday

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 | 5:19 p.m. CST; updated 12:43 a.m. CST, Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Columbia residents braved low temperatures Tuesday morning, donning jackets and scarves in single-digit temperatures.

COLUMBIA — After a balmy long weekend, it's going to feel more like winter again this week in Columbia.

A series of strong cold fronts moving west out of north and northwest Canada will keep temperatures low for the rest of the week, said Jayson Gosselin, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

Gosselin predicted temperatures would alternate between the teens and the 30s through Friday.

Tuesday's high was 18 degrees, while Wednesday's temperatures could reach 33 degrees. On Thursday, it is expected to drop again to 13 degrees, according to the National Weather Service website.

This "seesaw" effect happens when a cold air mass settles and warms up before being replaced by another incoming cold front, Gosselin said.

Although the weather may feel a lot like the phenomenal cold Columbia experienced earlier in January, this series of fronts is not another polar vortex, Gosselin said.

"This is more traditional January-type arctic air masses," Gosselin said. "Again, very cold, but nothing like what we saw in early January."

No snow is expected through the weekend, though a light dusting like what Columbia residents found Tuesday morning can't be ruled out, Gosselin said.

Snow will be concentrated to the northeast in cities like Minneapolis and Chicago, Gosselin said.

In Missouri, temperatures will be warmer in the west as the front moves east across the state. The heart of the cold air will settle over the Great Lakes and New England, Gosselin said. Meanwhile, the West Coast will enjoy much warmer weather.

Wind chills late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning could reach minus 10 degrees. Frostbite can affect exposed skin in less than an hour in those conditions, Gosselin said. He recommended that anyone outside at that time bundle up.

For those who need shelter from the cold, warming centers are open throughout Columbia.

Steve Jacobs, a founding member of the St. Francis House, said the homeless shelter offers morning and evening meals and has 13 beds available each night for those in need. In the winter, the house accepts donations of warm clothes such as underwear, coats and socks.

The shelter turns away three or four people every day, Jacobs said.

If someone is outside with nowhere to go, residents are asked to call the non-emergency police line at 442-6131.

Supervising editor is Elise Schmelzer.

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