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      Heading for Record Cold Territory

      The Thursday morning forecast shows and arctic low just east of Georgian Bay with strong northwesterly winds funneling in the core of the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere.

      The air mass pooling in Canada is a record-setter for this late in February. It had its origin over Siberia, came over the North Pole and is now filtering into the Upper Great Lakes. The first swipe of extreme cold will clip us tonight. Then winds will swing to the southwest as an arctic low-pressure system tracks out of central Canada over northern Lake Superior. As it pushes eastward Wednesday night, the trailing arctic front will drive through Upper Michigan bringing the core of the coldest air in on strong northwesterly winds on Thursday (Image 1 above).

      The latest high temperature of zero or below at the National Weather Service (NWS) near Negaunee occurred on February 24, 1967. After that, the record cold high for February 25 is 2 above set in 1963. The month closes with record low maximum temperatures in the upper single digits and low teens. The temperature will likely get no higher than zero on this Thursday, February 27, and will probably stay below zero all day.

      By the way, the record low on February 26 was set at 26 below zero in 1963 after the day with a record-cold high of 2 above. It will be interesting to see what happens late Thursday night and early Friday morning. The record low on Thursday is 15 below zero set during the famous bitter winter of 1994. The record on Friday, February 28 is 18 below zero set in 1970. There is a good chance that both records will fall because an arctic high-pressure ridge will pass over the Great Lakes Thursday night into Friday morning (Image 2).

      No big pattern flip is foreseen until at least mid-March. The European ensemble (a combination of 51 model runs with different initial conditions) shows some troughing remaining over eastern Canada into the Great Lakes and northeastern U.S. (Image 3). While it will most likely not be as cold as it is now come March 12, the forecast pattern argues for below average temperatures.