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January 12, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Winter Hitting Mid-Stride

Cold weather over North America often has its source region over the plateaus of Siberia in central Russia. Long-range forecasters look not just to Canada, but to Siberia for answers to "Just how cold will this winter be?"

Under strong high pressure and sitting atop snow and ice, the cold air pools over the Siberian plateaus waiting for just the right pulse in the jet stream to begin pushing it eastward. Average temperatures in Siberia typically range from -10 to even colder than -50F and Siberia is holder of the coldest temperature ever recorded outside Antarctica: -90F on February 6, 1933. Today, Siberia is experiencing relative warmth compared to the record: Overnight lows in central Russia are expected to be in the -10 to -30F range; highs from -15 to 0F. The Siberian High is dominant from November to early April and can be so strong that it blocks other weather patterns, allowing the cold air to get colder still as it remains in place over the snow and ice. How long does it take the bitterly cold Siberian air to reach North America? The blocking of the weather patterns can be felt by the cold, dry air and the lack of frontal activity across northern Canada on an on-going basis, however there is not an easy answer to this question as many factors, including the strength and track of the Arctic and Polar jet streams play a role in this complex hemispheric weather pattern.

A good portion of Siberia is experiencing snow today:

Source: ImpactWeather Gmaps Interactive Mapping System

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