Weekend Weather Blog: Much Colder Weather Ahead

By: Meteorologist Ray Hawthorne Email
By: Meteorologist Ray Hawthorne Email

---Wind Advisory on Saturday; gusts could briefly reach or exceed 40 mph---

---Freeze Watches likely to be upgraded to warnings for early Sunday morning---

Morning satellite imagery shows the large storm system plowing northward up the spine of the Appalachian Mountains. Ahead of it, gusty south winds, more rain and the possibility of severe weather extends up along the Mid Atlantic coast. Behind it, blustery north winds are occurring and snow is falling from the Eastern Great Lakes and Ohio Valley southward to parts of Georgia and Alabama. The big story around here on Saturday will be the restless winds. The latest balloon launch and short-term model data suggest wind gusts on the order of 40 mph with sustained winds of 15 to 30 mph. This could cause a few loose limbs from yesterday's storms to topple with an isolated power outage or two in heavily wooded areas. Temperatures will not get out of the 50s today thanks to strong cold air advection. There is still a narrow column of moisture at about 5,000 feet above the surface that is causing leftover clouds, especially over South Georgia. These clouds will slowly melt away, but will be slowest to do so north of U.S. Highway 84 and east of I-75. A brief sprinkle or two could fall from these clouds, but nothing more.

The center of a high pressure ridge over Texas is forecast to quickly translate eastward along the Gulf coast states, and be situated near our area early Sunday morning. The winds should become calm under these conditions, leading to ideal radiational cooling. Temperatures in the upper 20s are expected over a large area, with freezing temperatures lasting between 3 and 5 hours in many neighborhoods. We do not anticipate a pipe-busting cold, but more than enough to protect early season vegetation and your pets.

Temperatures will modestly modify Sunday afternoon as highs break the 60 degree barrier. That's still about 10 degrees below early March averages. Another light freeze is possible in the normally coldest locations early Monday morning, but a couple of approaching high clouds and a modifying airmass should prevent a widespread freeze. Still, a widespread frost is becoming more likely since air temperatures do not need to be below freezing for that to happen.

A weak upper disturbance is expected to slide along the Gulf coast states late Tuesday into Wednesday. This feature may spawn a weak low over the Gulf of Mexico or the Florida Peninsula, but it will be nowhere near as strong as the last few storms. A couple of showers or sprinkles are possible with this feature. The models disagree on the amplitude of the next Pacific disturbance. The GFS is much stronger than the UKMET, Canadian and ECMWF models. The hemispheric longwave pattern is forecast to flatten by the global models, meaning that Pettersen (smaller-scale waves) in the flow should be less amplified and I am favoring the weaker model solutions. There is time for this to change, but even if some more rain develops with this system, it wouldn't happen until Friday. Temperatures will recover to near climatological values from mid into late week.

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