Bitter Cold Takes Hold

Tumbling Temperatures And Light Snow

A powerful Arctic cold front pushed through Colorado with light snow and heavy duty cold air. Most snowfall amounts have been modest - in the 2-3 inch range, with perhaps another inch expected through Tuesday.

A Wind Chill Warning remains in effect for much of the state and many more advisories and warnings cover the Central Plains and Great Lakes states as this system will be a major winter storms during the next 48 hours. (See the list of current alerts. )

Temperatures started off in the mid-20s Monday morning, but dropped quickly into the teens and single digits during the afternoon. Temperatures will remain frigid through Thursday morning. We won't see a return of near normal temperatures until Friday. (Check the current conditions where you are.)

The Arctic air will push all the way to the Gulf Coast as the the cold front slides to the southeast. Along with the colder air, snow, sleet and freezing rain will spread across the central U.S. (Watch our FutureCast to see where snow and cold will move next.)

Because the airmass will be dropping down from the northern tundra of Canada, the air will be very cold. In fact, Denver may not reach zero for a high temperature on Tuesday. The last time the Mile High City had a high temperature of 1 below was back in January of 1997! The lows will probably not get to minus 20, but 15-18 below will be possible Tuesday night. By the way, the last time Denver had a reading of 20 below or colder was way back in December of 1990!

Some readings on the eastern plains may drop to 20-25 below zero by Wednesday morning. This coldwave may be the most intense one in over two decades for eastern Colorado.

This blast of cold will certainly be the 2010-2011 season's most significant so far. The coldest temperature this year, 5-below zero, was measured on Jan. 12.

Milder weather will return by the end of the week, but will stay below the afternoon average of mid-40s. (Check our our 7-Day Forecast to see the waarming trend.)

Protect Your Pipes In Severe Freeze

When the outside temperature drops below 20 degrees, water pipes in homes with little or no insulation are likely to freeze and break, according to State Farm Insurance. A one-eighth inch crack in a pipe can spew out more than 250 gallons of water a day, destroying floors, soaking furniture, and ruining personal items. Cleaning up after a pipe burst is time consuming and smelly work, made even more difficult by the frigid temperatures.

State Farm has these reminders to protect your pipes.

  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to piping under sinks and vanities near exterior walls.
  • Run a small trickle of water at vulnerable cold and hot faucets.
  • Avoid frozen pipes by insulating pipes that run along outside walls, floors and ceilings.
  • Disconnect outside garden hoses, wrap exposed pipes with insulating sleeves or tape, and seal foundation cracks that let arctic air freeze pipes in crawlspaces.

Stay Safe On Road

You should also protect yourself on the road when a severe freeze is predicted.

  • Check the battery. Make sure your battery can withstand freezing temperatures. Older batteries are especially at risk during cold weather, leaving you stranded and vulnerable in the cold.
  • Keep windshield washer fluid tank full and change wipers. Fluid should be able to withstand freezing temperatures. Wipers should be replaced if the windshield view is smeared and hard to see through.
  • Prepare a road survival kit. It’s important to have a basic tool set, a first aid kit, blanket, jumper cables, flash light, gloves, a small plastic tarp (to kneel on or lay on in the snow while installing tire chains or changing a flat), and road flares.
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