Dec 22, 2011: Light Rain/Snow For Christmas?

Behind last night’s cold front, which brought brief yet heavy thunderstorms with strong wind gusts across the area, today brought dry conditions with temperatures not so surprisingly ending up well above average once again, reaching the 60 degree mark for the 4th time so far this month in parts of the area. Temperatures peaked in the lower to mid 50s inland, upper 50s to lower 60s in the immediate NYC area, and in the upper 50s across Long Island and southern Connecticut. Temperatures will cool down back to near average this weekend with a few rain or snow showers possible, although temperatures will warm up once again by the start of next week.

Short Term Outlook: Heavy rain is already affecting parts of New Jersey, and will spread across the rest of the area by 12 AM. The storm is quickly moving through the region, and after several hours of heavy rain between at least 12 to 4 AM, the rain is likely to clear the area by 6 AM, with dry conditions and mostly cloudy skies by the mid to late morning hours on Friday. Storm totals will end up between 1/2 and 1.25 inch across the area.

Tomorrow’s Outlook:

After the storm will leave the area, clearing skies are expected by the afternoon hours tomorrow as a colder air mass moves into the region. Slightly colder yet still noticeably warmer than average temperatures are expected tomorrow, with highs reaching the mid to upper 40s inland and the upper 40s to lower 50s across the rest of the area.

Weekend Outlook: Cold Saturday, Rain/Snow Showers On Sunday?

Saturday will bring mostly sunny skies to the area as a stronger yet brief cold air mass moves into the area, with high temperatures dropping into the mid to upper 30s inland and the upper 30s to lower 40s across the area. A trough will approach the region for Sunday, but more uncertainty increases with how the models handle the set up. The GFS shows the cutoff low in the southern US phasing with the northern stream, resulting in a coastal storm developing, but because the northern stream is dominant, the storm develops too far north and too far east to result in any significant precipitation for the region. The NAM, however, does not show the phasing that the GFS has, as the cutoff low is stuck around Texas while the trough moves into the area. Although scattered rain and snow showers are possible across the area especially towards Sunday night, anything more than light precipitation is unlikely to fall. Otherwise, mostly cloudy skies are expected for Christmas with high temperatures reaching the lower to mid 40s across the area. Stay tuned for more information on the outlook for the weekend.

Next Week And Beyond: Warmer Start To Week

Mostly sunny skies will return to the area on Monday with temperatures staying relatively chilly but still warmer than average, peaking in the lower to mid 40s across most of the area. A warmer air mass will briefly return to the region on Tuesday, with temperatures expected to warm up into the mid to upper 40s across the area. This warm up will only be brief, however, and partly sunny skies are expected for Wednesday and possibly into Thursday with highs likely dropping back into the lower to mid 40s.

Looking at the longer range again, through the start of January there are still no indications that the pattern is flipping around to a cold and snowy one, especially with the development of a polar vortex near Alaska in the medium range, which often indicates warmer conditions across the region. Through the middle of January, there could be a few minor snow potentials for the area, but little snow is likely to fall from now until early January with temperatures staying above average. Unlike my medium range pattern outlooks from a while ago, however, more indications are starting to appear for potential stratospheric warming towards the longer range. It will take time for any stratospheric warming to break the pattern down, as it has been firmly established in place for the last few months, but if the pattern does break and evolve into a colder and snowier one, the more likely time frame for this to happen still appears to be by the second half of January and into February. For now, there are no large changes in my thoughts for the long range, although more updates will be posted as January gets closer, including an updated winter outlook on January 1st.

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