77ºF

Winter returns Friday to Jacksonville

Dallas to New York buried in snow, thousands of flights cancelled

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Call it the 'battle of the bulge.' Winter's last "give-it-all-you-got." The nation Thursday morning is once again encased in ice, buried in snow and gripped with with temperatures somewhere between O.M.G. and W.T.H. It's bad and soon Jacksonville will be in its grips, too.

RELATED: Flights in/out of JAX canceled

A powerful, late-season arctic front, characterized by it's very shallow nature, is surging south with incredible temperature falls behind the front. That front will soon be plowing through Jacksonville and with it, our temperatures are going to fall faster than Madonna in a cape at a late evening performance. \

Too soon?

Check out the nation wide temperatures as of 6 a.m. Thursday morning. I'll give you a nickel if you can find the front:

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The temperature in Atlanta is 66 degrees ahead of the front and 21 degrees in Memphis. That's a 45 degree temperature drop! We can expect a similar, albeit slightly less dramatic, drop here in Jacksonville when the front arrives. There will be no mistake.

TEXAS TO NEW ENGLAND

Although it's still winter officially, March usually triggers images of spring flowers and warmer weather. Not this year. 

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According to meteorologist Larry Mowry, Dallas has recorded its fourth largest March snowfall on record with the 2 to 4 inches of snow common throughout the Metroplex with as much as 7 inches reported. Check out this image from @TxStormChasers at right of Downtown Dallas:

The Bank of America building, locally called the 'Jolly Green Giant' for its radiant neon green lights, can barely be seen in the background as heavy snow moved through the area.

Further east, the snow danced from Shreveport, Louisiana to Little Rock, Arkansas. Snow and ice has also been reported in central and northern Mississippi where Mississippi State University has cancelled classes at the Starkville campus. 

According to the NWS, as much as a foot of snow had fallen in Obion county, Tennessee (north of Memphis near the Kentucky border) and 11 inches in Henry county just to the east.

Further south, as much as 1.5 inches of sleet had been recorded in Desoto county, Mississippi and 1.25 inches in Marshall county leading to many schools to close.

Kentucky didn't escape. They were expecting as much as 20 inches of snowfall. According to the Weather Channel, Falls of Rough, KY recorded 19 inches with snow still coming down.

Even in Washington D.C., where winter storm warnings are also in effect, were looking for up to 10 inches by the time the storm moves out virtually shutting down the federal government.

They don't get anything done on a warm day with sunshine so why am I surprised?

At one point, the National Weather Service had winter storm warnings issued from the Texas/Mexico border all the way to New England including parts of Massachusetts, where only 2 more inches of snow needs to be recorded to set the all-time snowiest winter on record. At last check, it had not yet started snowing in Boston. 

FLIGHT DELAYS:

More than 2,000 flights have been scrubbed for Thursday including some flights in and out of Jacksonville International. Call ahead to your carrier, especially if your choice of airline has major hubs in the path of this storm like DFW, home to American. For more information on flight delays, check out our story HERE.

JACKSONVILLE:

The cold front currently sits just north of Atlanta. The front will be on final approach to the Jacksonville region by this evening. The amount of moisture associated with the front is limited and therefore we are only calling for a slight chance of showers as the front races through. As seen in the GFS model below, notice in the green box that the rain chances for Thursday are only about 11 percent increasing, after the front passes to about a 50/50 shot. That's probably a bit too high but we're gonna continue to monitor it as nor-easter-like conditions set up leaving us overcast, cold and gray as seen in the pink box (OV-overcast).

When the front gets here, you will know it. Temperatures are going to crash behind the front very hard. We'll go from near record highs today in the mid 80s to highs barely climbing out of the 40s on Friday. We're looking for a 30 degree or better temperature drop in just a few hours. So get ready! As seen in the yellow box, top left, this model is showing a high Thursday of 85 degrees and a high on Friday of only 50---a 35 degree drop!

It'll be so cold, lawyers will have their hands in their own pockets! Just kidding.

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For those of you who have planted those spring gardens, we are not at this time calling for freezing temperatures. The arctic air mass will be modifying quite a bit by the time it arrives. So while it will be cold in the afternoon, the abundant clouds that are expected behind the front will keep temperatures from free-falling. Therefore covering plants will not be necessary -- not even for those of you in southeast Georgia.

Expect a slow warm up heading into next week with temperatures finally getting back to normal early next week as seen in the orange box in the model above, top right. This model shows highs getting back to the 80s by next Wednesday. I think that's a bit warm but definitely a trend many of you can appreciate.