This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.

As a rule, I tend not to talk about the weather in Primer. The TV stations all dedicate seemingly endless resources to the latest Doppler 50,000 or whatever, and besides, you can usually look outside your window and get a pretty good sense of what’s going on. But if that’s the rule, today is the exception. After all, this cold front that welcomed us to 2018 is probably the biggest local story around. And now, there’s the possibility of snow.

  • From the N&O: “Temperatures dipped below freezing early Sunday morning and aren’t expected to get back into the mid-30s until Wednesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. But then, another blast of Arctic air is expected to sweep across the region, bringing a chance of snow to Eastern North Carolina before sending temperatures back down into the low 20s. The precipitation will be heavier toward the coast, where it could mix with rain or sleet.”
  • “The normal high temperature for the first week of January in the Triangle is about 50, according to the weather service; the normal low is about 31. But as cold as it’s going to be this week, none of the forecasted lows are expected to set any records, which are all in the single digits. In other words, it has been worse.”
  • Here’s a map of expected snowfall from the National Weather Service. Tarboro and Goldsboro will likely see two or three inches, while Raleigh will see less than one and Durham about the same, if that.
  • If you think it’s bad here, it could be worse. Folks in Omaha this morning awoke to temperatures—temps, not wind chill—of -11 degrees.

WHAT IT MEANS: The cold temps over much of the United States aren’t an indication that global warming is a myth, no matter what the president tweets. Most of the world right now is warmer than usual for this time of year [NatGeo]—and, in any event, weather and climate are two different things. Also, 2017 was either the second- or third-hottest year on record. [USA Today] In fact, the loss of sea ice in the Arctic, due to rising temperatures, may be weakening the polar vortex, allowing blasts of cold weather to dip farther south in North America, Europe, and Russia.

  • From InsideClimate News: “New research shows that some northern regions have been getting hit with these extreme cold spells more frequently over the past four decades, even as the planet as a whole has warmed. While it may seem counterintuitive, the scientists believe these bitter cold snaps are connected to the warming of the Arctic and the effects that that warming is having on the winds of the stratospheric polar vortex, high above the Earth’s surface.”
  • “Here’s what scientists involved in the research think is happening: The evidence is clear that the Arctic has been warming faster than the rest of the planet. That warming is reducing the amount of Arctic sea ice, allowing more heat to escape from the ocean. The scientists think that the ocean energy that is being released is causing a weakening of the polar vortex winds over the Arctic, which normally keep cold air centered over the polar region. That weakening is then allowing cold polar air to slip southward more often.”