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Wind gusts up to 40 mph will counter sharp increase in temperature today

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MASSENA - Temperatures are expected to “skyrocket” into the upper 20s today, but heavy winds may force much of St. Lawrence and Franklin counties to suffer through some more frigid conditions.

According to the National Weather Service, Burlington, Vt., wind gusts may reach up to 40 miles per hour this afternoon, and a light snow fall may accumulate between two and four inches.

“We’re going to have snow spread into the area (Friday night) and ending (tonight.) It will be generally light around two to four inches. It won’t be specifically bad in one area, pretty evenly spread through the county. It should be on the light side. I wouldn’t expect any particular time to be too heavy” meteorologist Michael Muccilli said.

“There will be some heavy wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour during the day on Saturday. That will blow the snow around and create reduced visibility.”

Mr. Muccilli added that this anticipated minor snow event is making its way from the northwestern part of Canada and as of Friday afternoon was going through the central part of the country. “Then it will dive down to the southeast,” he said.

Much of the north country has been mired in a sub zero, arctic like climate for the past week, so if the forecast holds true, today may feel like a heat wave to some. “(Today) will be quite warm, into the upper 20s,” Mr. Muccilli said.

While the increase in temperature may put some at ease, the meteorologist says that the near freezing point numbers won’t last for long.

“After Saturday, then the temperatures will fall quickly back to below zero. The real cold will come towards the start of next week,” Mr. Muccilli said. “It shouldn’t be as bad as this past week though.”

Sub-zero temperatures have slammed the north country this winter for 14 days as of Friday, and meteorologists predict that statistic will increase as arctic conditions remain through early February.

This week’s five-day streak of below-zero temperatures is probably not the end, as meteorologists predict the arctic blast will continue into early February.

Low temperatures will hover near zero, predicted Thomas J. Paone, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

Based on air patterns, “it looks like this cold trend is going to continue until the end of the month and through the beginning of February,” he said. “We probably will have another good week or two” of these temperatures.

The so-called “polar vortex,” an area of low pressure centered on the Arctic Circle during the winter, is to blame for the frigid weather, Mr. Paone said.

“Occasionally, a piece of the polar vortex will break away from the polar region and slide across Canada to occasionally nip the U.S.,” he said.

“We just happen to be in a pattern right now where in the Great Lakes region, the Northeast in general and part of the Midwest, we’ve been in the grips of this frigid air mass for the past couple of weeks.”

Temperatures recorded this week in Watertown sunk to minus 37 degrees on Wednesday to become the lowest temperature recorded by the National Weather Service in the country. Temperatures in Massena reached minus 30 that night.

Light winds from the north and northeast force cold air to settle here, creating a “drainage effect,” he said.

Jessica L. Spaccio, climatologist for the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University, Ithaca, said this month’s cold stands out because recent winters were mild.

“Two years ago we had that really mild winter, and that was quite unusual, so I think that this definitely creates a big contrast,” she said.

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