As we first warned you may happen one month ago, a sudden warming in the high levels of the atmosphere over the North Pole is leading to chunks of the “polar vortex” breaking off and heading southward into the United States.

The polar vortex is an area of some of the coldest air on the planet, kept contained over the Arctic and North Pole by the prevailing jet stream. The “sudden stratospheric warming event” observed a month ago — where the high levels of the atmosphere warmed by 30°C — sent ripples downward into the troposphere, where weather takes place, and destabilized the polar vortex.

This is leading to the coldest air of the winter set to break off from the vortex and trek southward across much of the United States next week.

Temperatures in the northern Plains may plummet to -25°F early next week as the Arctic air surges into the nation.

Forecast temperatures Monday morning (

The cold front gets hung up north of Texas for a couple of days, but plunges into our area sometime on Tuesday, cooling us off dramatically by the middle of next week.

Forecast temperatures Wednesday morning (

This pattern may last for an extended amount of time, leading to a period of 4-5 days where local temperatures remain in the 30s and 40s into Valentine’s Day weekend.

Forecast temperatures next Saturday morning, Feb. 13 (

Some precipitation appears possible during the middle and latter parts of next week, which may fall as cold rain, sleet, freezing rain or snow. It is too soon for specifics on the this Arctic outbreak and potential winter storm.

Stay with the First Warning Weather team for frequent updates.