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Autumn Blast Digs Deep Into Mid-South, Southeast

UPDATED 7 AM CDT, October 21, 2011

UPDATED By WeatherBug Sr. Meteorologist, James West

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The coldest autumn blast yet is digging deeper into the Eastern-third of the U.S. For many from the Mississippi Valley to the western Carolina Piedmont, it will mean the first frost and freeze of the young fall season.

Powering the early cold blast will be strong low pressure drifting away from the Great Lakes today. All the while, Canadian high pressure on its southwestern periphery will swing the coldest air of the season into the Lower Mississippi and Tennessee valleys, meaning clear skies and diminishing winds will produce perfect conditions for plummeting temperatures.

Only a day after the mercury settled below the freezing mark across the Plains, the cold air is already draining deeper across the Mississippi Valley, Mid-South and Southeast in time for the conclusion of the work week. St. Louis, Little Rock, Ark., Memphis and Nashville, Tenn., Birmingham and Montgomery, Ala., and Atlanta will all see their first bout with sub-freezing temperatures. Even more impressive, the slackening winds and cloudless sky will send the mercury diving into the upper 30s as far south as the Interstate 10 corridor along the Gulf Coast.

Widespread Freeze Watches and Warnings and Frost Advisories remain in effect and stretch from Wisconsin to Arkansas and then eastward into western North Carolina. An extended duration of sub-freezing temperatures on Friday morning will mean crops, plants and other sensitive vegetation left exposed to the elements will be killed or severely damaged.

Temperatures this morning are plenty frosty. A WeatherBug Live Tracking Station in Neodesha, Kan., is 29 degrees, while Black River Falls, Wis., is 21 degrees. Ball Ground, Ga., is 33 degrees, while Butler, Ala., has dropped to the freezing mark. Even one location in the Sunshine State, Crestview, Fla., has dropped to 36 degrees this morning.

Even though temperatures will only warm into the 50s and 60s for places like St. Louis, Memphis, Tenn., Atlanta, and Birmingham, Ala., today, the wave of chilly weather will be short-lived. The mercury will rebound quickly across the Mississippi Valley and into the Mid-South and Southeast this weekend, with highs surging into the 70s.

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