Those planning fireworks or bonfires for New Year’s Eve will have to brave freezing temperatures first.
An arctic blast is expected to bring bone-chilling cold to most of the country, and the Canadian air could bring the coldest nights so far this winter.
But the bad news is, South Mississippi could see below-freezing temperatures for the entire week.
The major forecast models were in major disagreement earlier this week about when and how far the cold front would reach into the South, but the models are starting to agree. The National Weather Service in New Orleans expects the severe cold to push all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, dropping temperatures into the 20s.
The Coast has already seen wintry weather with lows in the 30s this week. Saturday night’s low should stay above 40, before the cold front quickly sweeps in Sunday.
There’s a chance of light rain Saturday night, with chances increasing Sunday. But so far forecasts show the moisture should move out as the strong cold front quickly moves in.
The Harrison County Emergency Management Agency warns a brief period of frozen precipitation is not out of the question, but there isn’t likely to be any accumulation.
“Will road surfaces have sufficient time to dry before surface temperatures fall below freezing? For now, it looks like there should be, but we will need to keep monitoring this,” the weather service forecast discussion said. The main area of concern would be north of Interstate 10.
New Year’s Eve night should get down to around 30. The high Sunday is only expected to reach near 50. Monday is even lower at 40.
Temperatures early next week are likely to be the coldest so far this winter, and they could dip into the low 20s, even close to the water. That means areas such as Hattiesburg and north could see temperatures in the teens.
That would be the coldest temperatures seen in the area since January 2015, the weather service said.
And the apparent temperature, or what it will actually feel like, is predicted to be in the teens. The Coast is used to calling it the heat index, but this would be more like the really, really cold index.
Cold here to stay
Unfortunately, the severe cold is also likely to stay put through the week thanks to a lot of cloud cover.
A hard freeze is expected for the entire Mississippi Coast on Monday night, and now looks likely for Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Cold weather shelters across the Coast will likely open on those nights.
On Friday, the weather service predicted nightly lows in Gulfport to be 23 on Monday and Tuesday and 25 on Wednesday.
Daytime temperatures Monday through Wednesday are only expected to rise to around 40 and plunge back down into the 20s overnight.
It’s possible nightly lows won’t get above freezing until the following weekend. Weather service lead forecaster Robert Ricks said the Coast could see seven days in a row of temperatures below 32.
The record for most consecutive days below freezing in Biloxi, which has the longest historical weather data, is in 1940 and 1895, when it was that cold 11 days in a row.
More recently, 2010 was the last year to almost get 11 consecutive days.
And although it might feel like it, the 20-something degree temperatures won’t be a record low. Around New Year’s Day, the record in Biloxi is 18 degrees in 1928. But the last time it reached the mid-20s on New Year’s was in 1984 when it was 26 degrees.
There’s hardly any rain in the forecast for next week, so the chance of wintry precipitation is pretty low. Ricks said no day has a chance of rain greater than 10 percent so far.
But if that changes, any moisture overnight would likely turn frosty.