Near record October cold will grip the Columbia Basin today into Thursday with a warming trend Friday. An arctic cold front which raced south across the area Monday afternoon and evening has brought brisk north winds and cold dry air. The coldest will be tomorrow morning and not only are daily records vulnerable, but coldest low temperature ever for October is also possible. Even though these temperatures would rank below normal even if it was January, only moderate cold stress is likely for newborn or weak livestock since this air is so dry. Although warming is expected this weekend, temperatures will continue to average below normal, especially at night. The extreme cold may damage tree fruit yet to be harvested. With the clear skies at night and sunshine during the day, topsoils will go through a freeze thaw scenario for several nights. Average soil temperatures at the 2 inch depth have already fallen into the 40 to 45 degree range and will likely drop in the upper lower and mid 30s the next few days before recovering to the mid and upper 30s over the weekend. Of course, pasture and winter wheat growth will be stopped until warmer air returns. Wheat that has recently emerged may be damaged by the extreme cold. We may start seeing slow growth resume early next week. Temperatures next week should average close to normal for early November, but no significant precipitation is expected the first full week of November. Fall harvest operations should have few delays.