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                   Monday, December 15, 2008 - 5:41AM

Charging arctic front - where will it stop?

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A massive cold front, with a more than 50-degree drop in temperatures behind it, is currently plowing across the midwest. Again, nothing depicts this better than a surface observation map (temperatures are in red):

Surface obs at 5:30AM - click for bigger map

Models have shown that this frontal boundary is supposed to slow down and stall as it crosses the WV state line later this evening. Whether it does or not will have huge implications on our forecast for the next few days. A sharp transition zone between above/below freezing exists with this front - and if this thing gets far enough past us, we'll be plunged back into winter here in Charleston, with snow, freezing rain and sleet plaguing the roads off and on for the rest of the week. As it is, southeast Ohio, eastern Kentucky and the westernmost counties of WV are already under winter weather advisories and warnings for icing and/or several inches of snow and sleet.

The models keep inching the 'winter zone' toward us with each successive run, making me increasingly concerned that we won't escape being affected here in Charleston. We're above the 60°F mark already this morning (thanks to downsloping southeasterly winds), but if the front passes through later today, that will be gone quickly.

I had considered a short chase westward to cover this, but with Charleston so close to getting involved in it, I'm opting to stay here.

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