Despite our very warm December, not all of the Northern Hemisphere has shared in the same level of warmth as we have. In fact, it's been quite cold in Alaska as lows have pushed close to -60 on a couple of mornings in the colder locations up there. Fairbanks, AK, has averaged over nineteen degrees below average this month.
This cold has also been quite prevalent in East Asia, with parts of Russia dealing temperatures as cold as -70 and Beijing getting their first zero degree night since January 2010. Beijing's cold is helped when Siberia is cold -- and the cold pattern over them has certainly helped China experience some rather cold temperatures.
We will have some brief warming with the midweek storm in some locations, mainly along the coast and points south where warmer air will have an easier time making inroads. The cold anomalies over Alaska will work their way into the US, with colder than average temperatures likely to spread through much of the US later this week. Another storm system next weekend will reinforce a colder regime in the US although it may briefly warm up in advance of this weekend storm. However, the days of warmer weather that permeated much of December will not be the case going forward.
Modeling indicates the prospects of this cold regime holding serve into the New Year, with the GFS and Euro both suggesting colder than average temperatures over the East, probably lasting for at least the first seven days of 2013. It could be quite cold over the snow-covered parts of New England and Upstate New York, with our region probably seeing its coldest nights to date this winter as we start the New Year. While those temperatures won't be teeth chattering, arctic-ish...it certainly isn't going to be like December's first three weeks as we change the calendar.