Sunny through Wed; Warm through Sat
Good morning folks! Enjoy today (Sunday) because it will be our last winter-like day through at least 12/20 (Monday) as we kickoff a warming trend starting Monday (12/13), peaking to the upper 60's Tuesday through Friday, which is roughly 10 - 14 degrees above average for the lower elevations; low - mid 50's is normal for mid December. Cold air advection will remain healthy today and hold the valleys to the low - mid 50's, while the higher elevations above 5000' struggle to climb past the low - mid 40's. Local slopes like Cataloochee Ski Area are doing their best to conduct as much snowmaking as possible before we enter the warm stretch, with tonight likely being their last night to make snow for roughly a week. The valleys will actually be colder than the surrounding ridgelines (4000' +) Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights as ideal radiational cooling takes place, with sub freezing temps sticking around into Tuesday morning. The remainder of the week will be sunny as high pressure dominates the forecast, eventually shifting to the east late Wednesday. Southeasterly flow will return Thursday and moisture levels will gradually increase over the course of the day, leading to a steady increase in high clouds. A weak cold front stalls nearby the region Thursday into Friday, followed by a stronger front Saturday, setting the stage for another round of light/isolated showers Friday and moderate/widespread showers Saturday.
We'll kickoff the forecast timeline today (Sunday) only to make mention of the normal setup as temps climb to the low 40's - mid 50's depending upon elevation. High pressure will migrate toward the region today (maintaining sunny skies) and northerly winds should die down to a light breeze as we approach sunset. Clear skies, dry air, and little to no wind will bring temps down into the low - mid 20's for the valleys, while the higher elevations hold to the upper 20's - mid 30's.
Monday through Wednesday are similar enough to lump together as mostly sunny skies continue to sit overhead, while an upper level ridge allows temps to warm from the upper 40's - low 60's Monday to the mid 50's - upper 60's Tuesday and Wednesday. Overnight lows settle into the upper 20's - low 30's Monday night for the valleys, mid 30's across the higher elevations, warming slightly to the mid 30's in the valleys Tuesday night (low 40's across the higher elevations). Wednesday night should be our return to normal relating to a top down temperature profile, not actual temperatures, as the valleys settle into the mid 40's, while the ridgelines bottom out to the upper 30's - low 40's.
A weak front stalls nearby Thursday and lifts north on Friday, in tandem with the high pressure overhead earlier in the week shifting to the east, leading to an increase in southeasterly flow across the area. This will lead to an uptick in cloud cover as the day moves along Thursday, with mostly cloudy skies overhead by the mid afternoon hours, however southerly flow will allow temps to reach the mid 50's - upper 60's once again.
Light showers pepper the region on Friday as the front lifts north and the models point to a stronger cold front crossing the region from the west on Saturday. This may seem similar to this past Fri/Sat event, however this go around it seems we'll not see much or any thunderstorm activity and rainfall totals (this far out in time) are projected to be between a 0.25 - 0.50" at best. Hopefully this trends upwards as we approach the weekend.
We'll stop here and circle back Tuesday morning between 8 - 10am. ENJOY!