Cold weather returns along with some precip tonight – will winter ever end??

We are receiving lots of reports of sleet and even a little thunder in the area this evening as freezing levels are low and air fairly dry, promoting sleet development. Temps remain in the 40s at this time and will fall into the 30s, but no travel issues are expected this evening due to sleet.

Following a beautiful weekend that felt an awful lot like spring, I got questions like “is spring finally here?” and “is winter gone for good?”  My response: “It’s still February.” Alas, Mother Nature is throwing a stark reminder of that our way in the coming week.  The only good thing about cold weather this time of year is that typically it doesn’t last as long and isn’t QUITE as cold.  Of course that is all relative…  It has been a long and cold winter in the Mid-South!

An Arctic cold front moves through the region tonight, shifting wind to the north and becoming gusty, while also causing temps to plummet.  Meanwhile, some precipitation is expected to move through the area as well.  Computer models differ slightly on the placement and timing of precipitation, but all seem to agree that most of it will fall across north MS, while the southern half of west TN and east AR could see light precip prior to snow-cold air arriving.

Thus, there is a low chance that light rain could briefly change to light snow or sleet for a couple hours after midnight before ending before dawn in the metro. Areas just south of the metro in north MS have a slightly better chance of seeing light snow, but even that is not much.

The latest NAM model output indicates precip falling along and south of the TN-MS line at midnight with the 32 degree line (blue line) dropping south across the metro. A brief changeover to snow is possible if this scenario pans out. Other models keep the precip a little further south.

Temps will fall to the upper 20s by dawn, so any light precip that falls overnight COULD freeze or create black ice on elevated roadways or objects, though a gusty north wind will help in the drying process and most roadways will be plenty warm enough to keep from freezing.  The probability of travel issues in the metro Wednesday morning is low.

Forecast temperatures from the NAM model at 7am Wednesday morning. Wind chills will be in the teens.

Cold air sticks around the rest of the week with highs on Wednesday in the 30s and wind chills in the 20s despite abundant sunshine. Lows Thursday morning drop well into the 20s, perhaps some upper teens in the coldest outlying areas as wind goes nearly calm. Mid to upper 40s are expected Thursday and Friday afternoon and we’ll have to monitor Friday morning for possible precip into sub-freezing air, though it appears at this time as though rain would hold off until temps were well above freezing Friday.

Warmer temps (50s and 60s) are expected this weekend with low rain chances before yet another major cold front arrives Sunday or Monday, depending on which model solution plays out.  This front will bring a potential for thunderstorms and then another blast of cold air as we start March off like a lion.  One more time, we’ll monitor how fast the cold air moves in on the heels of precipitation departing.  Click here for the complete MWN Forecast, which is highly subject to change for this weekend’s system.

NOAA predicts equal chances of above/below normal March temperatures so hopefully we can shed winter and get some spring cleaning done in March!

March 2014 temperature outlook from NOAA indicating below normal temps should stay to our north with equal chance of above and below normal temps across the Mid-South.

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