Baby, it’s cold outside!

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The Voice photo by Renee Wells

Extreme cold ushered in 2013, and with it came a display of hoarfrost that left bushes and trees, like this enormous weeping willow tree, throughout the Mini-Cassia area bathed in frosty diamonds.

Hold on to your hats and gloves; now we are headed for snowstorms.

By RENEE WELLS

The Voice

BURLEY – The New Year holiday brought its usual extreme cold weather to Burley again this year.

As the local community ushered in the New Year, temperatures in Mini-Cassia dropped below zero, some as far as -18, according to local residents, although official temperatures were not quite that cold, hovering from  eight degrees above zero to around eight degrees below zero for several nights.

After sitting in a huge freezer for the past nine days, local residents are relishing the warmer temperatures that arrived over this past weekend. In Burley, highs of 12-15 degrees suddenly warmed up dramatically when Monday’s high reached 29 degrees (at 7:30 p.m.), making the air outside feel almost like a tropical heat wave.

The extreme cold was the result of a strong high pressure system that settled over a good share of the Pacific Northwest, pushing warm air masses around the area, and providing nothing but cold dry days and colder nights.

According to NWS meteorologist Dan Valle of the Pocatello office, the hoarfrost that arrived with the New Year’s Day was a result of the extreme cold temperatures literally “squeezing the moisture” out of the air. It settled on trees, fences, pivots and power lines in a thick coating of tiny white ice-crystals that dressed up the landscape with “diamonds.”

But, with a slight push from Mother Nature Sunday afternoon and evening, that high pressure area broke up, bringing a slight warming trend that just kept getting better for a few days, raising daytime temperatures into the 30s and nighttime temperatures above the teens.

Balmy temperatures won’t stick around for long, though, according to Valle . By the end of this week, another cold front should be bringing in some heavier amounts of snow. Temperatures will be seasonably moderate, with highs near or at the freezing level and nighttime colds in the high teens to low 20s.

With the change comes a chance for some added snow amounts, so travelers are being cautioned by Idaho State and local police jurisdictions to use caution while traveling and always prepare for winter weather by taking blankets in the car, as well as plenty of drinking water and snacks, in case weather conditions leave travelers stranded.

Idaho State Police investigated a crash near Jerome that shut down the westbound lane of I-84 for several hours Monday.  Details were not available as of Monday night.

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