It’s going to be an ice cold Christmas weekend as an arctic blast works its way down from Canada, through the Midwest, and eventually into Western North Carolina.
Also known as a polar vortex or a blue norther, this weather movement occurs when a surge of high-pressure Arctic air funnels through milder parts of the globe, bringing sudden, extreme cold and bursts of heavy snow. During this type of cold front, temperatures can drop 40 degrees or more in a span of 24 hours, or in some cases, within minutes.
Midwest cities like Chicago, Des Moines, and Denver are expected to see the most dramatic impacts, with temperatures sinking into the negatives this week, and Asheville certainly won’t get off easy, either. Starting Friday, Dec. 23, temperatures are predicted to drop as low as four degrees, with strong winds that will make it feel much colder.
According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, we may see wind chills below negative five degrees around Asheville and as low as negative 20 in the higher elevation parts of WNC like Avery County. At night, temperatures are expected to dip below twenty degrees through Sunday or Monday. Since the arctic air is mostly dry, snow is unlikely in the lower elevations, but there may be a mixture of rain and ice. If we do see snow, it’s predicted to happen on Friday morning before 7 a.m.
A Code Purple is already in effect and is projected to continue for the next two weeks. This means shelters, which are run by the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry, will remain open 24/7 for folks who are experiencing homelessness — and to help with this big lift, the organization is currently asking for donations.
Wondering how to prepare for this intense weather? Here are a few tips on how to keep warm + stay safe:
- Protect your pipes. Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers recommends “letting your faucets drip” when temps are in the single digits — it helps prevent them from bursting.
- Reconsider your travel plans. The National Weather Service has warned that this intense winter weather could impact infrastructure and travel with power outages, icy roads, cracked asphalt, and canceled flights.
- Insulate your home. Thick curtains, rugs, radiator reflector panels, and draft-proofed windows can help keep your home extra cozy. Another tip: Keep doors closed in rooms that are not being used.
- Be cautious with space heaters and chimneys. Studies show that heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires this time of year — so make sure your chimney has been recently inspected and that space heaters are plugged directly into an outlet and have an automatic shutoff.