Surging Arctic air: It’s been warm lately! The past twelve days registered nearly 11ºF above average for late December and early January. Historically, the coldest part of the year comes within the next week, and true to form, cold air is on the way.
The first push of cold air arrives Wednesday, but you won’t feel the full impact of it until Thursday. A cold air mass only about 2,000’ thick (from the ground up to the point where it actually starts warming again above the Arctic air) slides in Wednesday and pushes high temperatures below average again: mid/upper 40s with a ‘feels like’ in the 30s.
You’ll really feel it on Thursday and Friday! Morning lows drop to the lower and middle 20s both days, and we expect hard freezes: between 8 and 14 hours of subfreezing temperatures both Wednesday night into Thursday and Thursday night into Friday.
Daytime highs Thursday won’t even crack 40ºF in Northeast Alabama and may struggle to get above 35ºF on the ridge tops like Monte Sano, Brindlee Mountain, as well as parts of Sand, Lookout and Cumberland Mountains. ‘Feels like’ temps Thursday will be in the 20s and lower 30s all day.
Mainly rain here, winter storm just to the north: We’re going to have a close call with some snow or some mix as cold air escapes ahead of a developing storm system Friday night and Saturday. In fact, it’s entirely possible that we could have a brief period of snow or wintry mix in especially northeastern Alabama and Tennessee Saturday morning before it changes to all rain in the afternoon and temperatures rise into the 40s.
The *major* winter storm potential is north of us: even north of Nashville but close enough to watch. The Arctic air in place this week will serve to change the north side of this storm system to a snowstorm that could drop several inches of snow from Missouri eastward through Kentucky and northern Tennessee Saturday.
We’ll be watching to see if that shifts south any at all, but as of now, we do not expect it to do that. Is it possible? Anything is possible 5 days in the future, but we don’t think it will happen at this point.