North to a Frozen Landscape

Leaving Longboat Key early on New Years Day, we were enveloped in relatively cool pre-dawn air (61 degrees F) as we headed north.  By the time we reached Tampa, light mist was coating the windshield and bands of showers continued to fall throughout northern Florida; this precipitation marked the leading edge of the cold front that had placed most of the central and eastern U.S. in a deep freeze.  Sunshine broke through the clouds as we crossed into southern Georgia but the temperature was a humid 39 degrees F.  The cooling progressed as we travelled northward through Georgia and, when we reached Chattanooga for our overnight stay, it was 12 degrees in the Tennessee River Valley. 

This morning, we crossed the Cumberland Plateau before dawn, the winter landscape lit by a bright super-moon, and we were greeted by a 5 degree air mass in the Cumberland River Valley at Nashville.  Neither the Tennessee nor the Cumberland River had ice floes but, farther north, all lakes, ponds and small rivers were frozen over and a dusting of snow coated most of the farmlands; ice floes clogged both the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers at St. Louis.

We finally reached Columbia by mid afternoon where, despite the bright sunshine, it was 15 degrees (having climbed from an overnight low of minus one).  As the massive dome of frigid air moves eastward, we'll slowly warm up here in the Heartland; above freezing temperatures are expected by this weekend.  After almost two weeks in the warm, Subtropics, it may take us that long to adjust.