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Rollercoaster Temperatures Presage...
...The Return of "Winter" Next Week

Josh Larson @ 6:30 AM

Within a one-week period between last Saturday and this Saturday we'll have seen area high temperatures in the 70s, 60s, 50s, 40s, and 30s! While that's enough to make even the most seasoned Washingtonians a bit weather-queasy, this current battle between warm and cold foretells winter's return early next week with at least relative cold (temperatures falling back to near or somewhat below where they should be for this time of year); whether this cold air builds and lasts for an extended period is still an open debate, though it seems more likely than not.


Forecast Confidence: HighNot as frosty. Take what we experienced yesterday, add about 10 degrees, decrease the winds (and the windchill) and you'll have today's weather: expect highs in the mid 40s and lows tonight in the upper 20s to low 30s under mostly clear skies.


Forecast Confidence: Medium-HighMilder still. We'll tack on yet another 10 degrees for highs on Friday, with more clouds than sun and highs near 55. Increasing clouds Friday night with milder lows from 40-45.

The Weekend

Forecast Confidence: High-Very HighQuite unsettled. A sprawling but slow-moving cold front will push east from the central US this weekend, allowing waves of low pressure to ride up it. Saturday will feature mostly cloudy skies with widely scattered showers throughout the day; expect highs near 60 with overnight lows near 40. Expect thick overcast skies on Sunday with steadier, heavier rain more likely and highs ranging anywhere from the mid 40s to the mid 50s depending on the wind direction.


Pattern Overview
After waiting for weeks and weeks for a pattern change, it looks like one will finally be upon us by the start of next week. The deep Aleutian low which we saw for almost all of December (which brought much storminess to the Pacific NW) is breaking down and will be replaced with ridging, which will allow for a downstream trough to settle into the central and eastern US by the middle of next week. No longer will the source region of our air masses be the mild Pacific but, rather, the much colder Arctic.

It does appear likely that we'll see at least a week of temperatures at near or below normal levels (during what is climatologically the coldest part of the winter). That being said, it is still too early to say with confidence whether (1) the cold weather will last longer than a week to ten days and (2) whether truly frigid, much below normal temperatures develop over our region. But suffice to say that after Monday of next week we may finally get back to tracking snow storms as opposed to cherry blossoms.

Pictured above: One of the CPC's SuperEnsemble models shows a ridge building south of Alaska and a strengthening trough over much of the central and eastern US, allowing cold, Canadian air to filter south after the start of next week.

Next week's forecast
Forecast highs/lows*: 38/25 (normal = 42/27)
*After the frontal passage; Tues, Jan 16 - Sat, Jan 20
Forecast precip: Near normal?

Forecast Confidence: High-Very HighExpect cloudy skies and windy conditions Monday with scattered showers lingering; we'll see highs near 60 with lows in the 30s. Tuesday will feature blustery and much colder conditions with a blend of clouds and sun and highs in the upper 30s to low 40s, with overnight lows from 20-25. Wednesday will likely be cooler, still, with highs in the low to mid 30s and overnight lows in the teens to lower 20s. Not quite as chilly on Thursday and Friday with highs likely from 35-40 with overnight lows primarily in the 20s. Odds for S-N-O-W of some sort look to increase by the weekend.

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