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Winter is here but it won’t feel like it this week

The key phrase in the title of this blog post is “this week.”  Meteorological winter arrived yesterday – Dec. 1 – but the next several days will actually bring temperatures a bit above normal for the first week in December. The cold airmass that invaded Fredericksburg for Thanksgiving week has pushed off the coast, allowing warmer conditions to prevail.

This morning’s sunshine won’t stick around all day as evidenced by the line of clouds on the western and northern horizons. A weak low pressure system off Cape Hatteras plus a layer of moist air in the middle parts of the atmosphere will combine to create overcast skies for Fredericksburg as the day progresses.  Even so today’s high temperature will rise into the low 50s while any precipitation from the storm off the coast will remain well east of the area. That temperature trend will continue through late week with highs climbing through the 50s Tuesday and Wednesday and even into the 60s on Thursday.

That climb in thermometer readings will come with a price, however. The jet stream and a potentially record-setting cold airmass is plunging southward into the western half of the nation this week as shown in this high temperature forecast map for Friday:

One result of that southward dip in the jet stream will be our mild temperatures here on the East Coast as warm air bulges northward. But inevitably that cold air will ooze its way eastward into our region and the cold front associated with it will bring chances of rain to the ‘Burg by Thursday.  Since the frigid air will take a while to move in our direction it will “warm up” a bit before it gets here but our conditions will be much colder by Saturday.

It is still too early to implicitly trust the longer range forecast models but with that very cold airmass in place next week there are hints of wintry precipitation over the Old Dominion. And before snow lovers start jumping for joy I should point out that these model hints are leaning toward another *#%$)*# cold air damming event. A shallow layer of sub-freezing air at the surface and warmer air aloft could bring significant icing instead of snow (so be careful what you wish for!). Again, that’s too far out to trust the model solutions but it’s something to keep an eye on for early next week.