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Winter Takes a Breather...But For How Long?

Josh Larson @ 12:30 AM

Today's Forecast

The forecast today calls for the continuation of abundant sunshine, with seasonably cool temperatures and light westerly winds. Expect daytime highs a few degrees warmer than the past two days' high temperatures, which have struggled to break out of the 30s. Our afternoon high will be near 43, with overnight lows ranging from the lower 20s across the cooler suburbs to the upper 20s downtown. Noticeably milder weather will arrive on Friday, however.

Image above courtesy

Pattern Overview

Ironic, indeed, that the first week of "official" winter will bring the first sustained (albeit, relatively short) period of above normal temperatures to our area since November. The atmospheric pattern is currently in transition -- from a trough (and the focus of the nation's weather activity) over the east, to a trough (and the focus of much of the nation's weather activity) generally over the west. So, winter weather will take a breather from the east over the near-term, but it looks like it will return again by next week; questions remain, however, regarding the timing and magnitude of a turn back to colder than normal temperatures, especially since there is significant model disagreement. Generally, the next five days will feature temperatures nearly 5 degrees above average, while the following five days will likely feature temperatures back to below normal levels.

The next 5 days (Dec 22-26)
Forecast high/low: 49/33 (normal = 45/30)
Forecast precip: above normal

After today's continued cool weather, expect noticeably milder temperatures to take hold on Friday and last through the start of next week. The reason will the aforementioned shift in the wind and atmospheric height pattern aloft, allowing milder air to seep into the area from the west and southwest. Friday will feature varying amounts of clouds and sun with highs likely eclipsing the 50 degree mark -- for the first time since November 30! -- and overnight lows in the low to mid 30s. Saturday will feature more clouds than sun, with clouds increasing through the course of the day. Even milder high temperatures can be expected, and they may reach the 55 degree mark in many spots. Christmas Eve (night) will feature cloudy skies with a chance for showers to develop overnight, with lows holding in the upper 30s. Christmas Day will feature unpleasant weather, especially for those hoping for a White Christmas: expect dreary, overcast skies with periods of showers throughout the course of the day; it will be mild, too, with highs in upper 40s and overnight lows in the mid 30s. Monday will feature mostly cloudy skies, breezy conditions and a stray shower of rain (or wet snow well to the west); expect highs in the mid to upper 40s and overnight lows from 30-35.

The following 5 days (Dec 27-31)
Forecast high/low: 44/29 (normal = 40/25)
Forecast precip: near normal

Unfortunately, forecast confidence is lower than normal for the following five days due to significant model disagreement regarding when, and how strong, of a cold push we'll see by the middle of next week. In addition, there are vague hints that snow showers, the result of clipper-type low pressure systems accompanying the shots of colder air, may bring white stuff to the area during this period, too. I believe that model guidance is currently underestimating the strength of the cold air, so I've gone below guidance numbers. Tuesday looks breezy and partly sunny with temperatures in the low to mid 40s for highs with lows in the mid to upper 20s. Wednesday and Thursday will likely bring much cooler temperatures with scattered snow showers during this period. Expect highs in the mid to upper 30s and overnight lows in the 20s. Friday and Saturday look to be mostly sunny and dry with highs in the upper 30s to low 40s and overnight lows in the 20s.

Snow Lover's Crystal Ball

Next Chance of Snow: Tues, Dec 27 through Thurs, Dec 29

Probability: 30%

Potential Impact:

Commentary: There are some indications that the atmospheric pattern during this time period may be conducive to snow showers or squalls throughout the region, especially to our north and west. Major accumulations, however, are not anticipated at this time.

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