Rainy and mild for now, but when will it get cold again?

December and all of 2018 ended up above average for rainfall, and 2019 gets started with the same wet pattern. More rain moves in by Wednesday, and some of it will get heavy at times. We expect another 1-2” of rainfall on average between now and midday Friday as two distinct waves of wet weather pass through the region.

The first wave of showers moves in Wednesday morning: mainly light, scattered showers keeping it cool and damp. Expect highs in the upper 40s and lower 50s with rain increasing throughout the day. Rain lasts through Wednesday night into Thursday morning, then we get a break ahead of the next wave of rain Thursday night into Friday morning.

How much rain? Our best chance of persistent, heavier rain comes Wednesday afternoon through early Thursday. Another wave of heavier, steady rainfall moves through Thursday night into Friday. That leaves a decent 6 to 12 hour gap with no rain during the day Thursday. In other words, the 70% chance of rain on Thursday doesn’t tell the whole story. Confidence is high that we get rain Thursday, but it will not rain the entire day through.

In all, expect around 1/2” to 1” of rain Wednesday into Thursday and another 1/2” to 1” Thursday night into Friday morning.

This time we do not see any risk of severe storms!

Staying warmer than normal: Next week looks warmer than normal January weather, and it could stay that way for quite a while. Sure, we’ll see a few colder days here and there, but we do not see any signs of extreme cold, snow, or severe weather anytime in the next 7 to 10 days; there are no obvious signs of a major patter shift beyond that, but January weather is far from settled more than a week in advance.

The outlook beyond January 12th from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center does suggest a chance of some colder weather for mid-month; that’s a very reasonable assessment from this distance. There have been some signals here and there of colder weather about two weeks in the future for quite a while now; if that finally kicks in, middle to late January could turn very cold.

CPC Temperature Outlook Jan. 12-25

What about snow potential? It’s zero right now because there’s nothing out there to suggest a real timeframe when snow could occur. Is it zero for the rest of the winter? Probably not.

In 119 years of reliable records in Huntsville, we’ve had the following:

  • 8 winters with zero snowfall (7% of winter seasons)
  • 27 winters with a TRACE of snow or nothing at all (23% of winter seasons)
  • 55 winters with more than a trace but less than one inch of snow (46% of winter seasons)
  • 62 winters with at least one inch of snowfall (52% of winter seasons)
  • 43 winters with ‘average snowfall’ of 2.4 inches or more (36% of winter seasons)

So, about 93% of the time we get at least a little snow.  Over half the time we get at least one inch of snow.  We rarely get zero snowfall.

That makes a chart like this somewhat realistic even though it probably isn’t ‘right.’  It’s the EPS ensemble output of accumulated snowfall in the next 45 days.  Out of 50 ensemble members, only a hand full have a little snow before mid-January.  Throw those out; it’s not likely to happen.  Several of them have some decent snow in late January and February.  At this point, that’s the time period that it would be most likely.

Being ‘most likely’ from a long range discussion standpoint is not the same as saying ‘we’re forecasting snow.’  If you’ve read this far down, you’re probably getting the idea that there’s not much confidence in any wintry weather at all until we see the break from this milder pattern.  We’ll see how it goes and keep you posted!

Looking for the rest of the forecast? It’s always online at WHNT.com/Weather and in the “Daily Forecast” section on Live Alert 19!

-Jason
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