Hard Freeze: 20s Wednesday morning, chilly breeze Wednesday afternoon

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Dropping to the 20s tonight, but some 60s are possible soon!

Expect a hard freeze tonight: 10 to 12 hours below freezing and lows as cold as the lower 20s in Tennessee and some of the usual cold spots of North Alabama. Wednesday shapes up cool and dry: highs in the upper 40s and lower 50s with a light wind and full sunshine.

The wind turns around to the southwest Wednesday and gusts over 20 miles per hour from time to time in the afternoon. That means Wednesday afternoon will feel a lot like Tuesday, but temperatures rise a little as warmer air nudges into Alabama. That ‘warmth’ raises temperatures into the 50s for Wednesday and Thursday, but another shot of chilly air brings us back to the 40s again on Friday.

Friday flurries? Our Seven Day Forecast still shows a 10% chance of some flurries on Friday, but if you’re snow-starved and really needing a few flakes, don’t get your hopes up too high! The air looks very dry, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see a few flakes here and there – especially in Southern Tennessee.

Weekend outlook: There are only two more Saturdays until Christmas! This particular Saturday looks pretty nice for December: highs in the lower 50s after a morning freeze (in the 20s), a cool southwest breeze in the afternoon, and a partly to mostly sunny sky. It’s a good day for shopping, raking leaves, Christmas parties, or whatever you’ve got planned for the day; Saturday night activities like going to Galaxy of Lights, Tinsel Trail, and even the lights in the Arab City Park or Noccalula Falls look dry and mild. Clouds thickening Saturday evening keep temperatures up; we’ll only fall into the 40s and 50s Saturday night.

Rain and some thunderstorms are likely on Sunday. Our 70% chance of rain reflects high confidence in a good soaking: 70% odds of more than 0.25″ of rain Sunday morning through Sunday afternoon. The best chance of rain comes ahead of a cold front from about 4 AM to 1 PM. Behind that front, it gets cooler – but not excessively cold – for Monday.

Bad news for snow/cold fans: The colder weather of the past week has underperformed expectations (even with that whopper of a snowstorm south of us). December’s average temperature is only 0.3ºF above average; about 10 days ago, it looked like we’d be somewhere around 2-3ºF below average.

So, where do we go from here?

This push of chilly air Monday looks like the last one until after Christmas. It’s not set in stone yet, but we have a fairly high confidence in a pre-Christmas warm-up that might bring us up close to 70ºF on a few days leading up to Christmas Eve.

A transition begins from warmer to colder again right around the 24th to the 26th, so we may not be 70ºF on Christmas Day, but it may be a little warmer than you’d hope for the holidays!

What about a surprise?  This kind of look is warm; however, there’s a catch!  Sometimes cold air can sneak in under a pattern like this:

EPS 500 mb (upper-air) pattern Christmas morning

That’s reminiscent of Christmas 1998 when arctic air undercut a southwest flow aloft and produced an ice storm over North Alabama and Tennessee. This is what the maps looked like early Christmas Eve, 1998:

Similar? Maybe. We’ll keep an eye on it.

-Jason
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