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Temps Above Normal; Weak Rain Chances

Good morning folks! December starts out above normal as temps push into the mid - upper 60's today (Wednesday), Thursday, and Saturday, with Friday claiming the title of hottest day of the week as temps soar into the low 70's! Normal temps across the valleys in early December should be in the upper 50's but instead we'll find temps running 4 - 8 degrees above normal, peaking to 12 - 15 degrees above normal on Friday. A weak cold front swings through the region Saturday with only high clouds expected and the chance for rain has vanished, which was a possibility we mentioned in our previous discussion. Highlands is only 3.55" from hitting 100" on the year and although we would love to see this milestone reached, we'll take a hundredth of an inch at this point as we creep closer and closer to drought status. Looking past the frontal passage on Saturday, we'll be treated to near normal temps in the 50's as cold air damming tries it's best to infiltrate our region, but it seems the Great Balsams and Plateau will once again block most of the CAD impacts. A low pressure system to our north will swing moisture across the region Monday in the form of a front and we could pick up a handful of light showers, followed by a much better chance for rain Tuesday as an upper level trough interacts with the region. This is too far out to nail down but the pattern does look conducive for regionwide showers sometime early next week; fingers crossed this pans out.

Starting the timeline Wednesday afternoon, we'll see an uptick in cloud cover, setting the stage for partly - mostly cloudy skies tonight. This will cap temps to the mid - upper 30's across the region; not much movement between elevations.

Thursday and Friday will feel more like October than December but we can make lemonade out of this, as sunny skies and dry airmass setup gorgeous hiking weather. Temps in the valleys hit the upper 60's Thursday afternoon and climb a few degrees on Friday to the low 70's, with Murphy, Andrews, Bryson City and Franklin battling for the hottest town in SW NC. Overnight lows dip into the mid 30's in the valleys Thursday night, while the ridgelines hold to the upper 30's - low 40's due to light radiational cooling. This will not be the case Friday night as temps settle into the upper 30's - mid 40's depending upon elevation, under partly cloudy skies.

A weak, moisture starved cold front will cross the area Saturday with a light shower possible/maybe just a few drops, along the TN line in the Smokies. Elsewhere across SW NC we'll experience a mixed bag of mostly sunny skies and high clouds and temps once again push into the low 50's - upper 60's. Saturday night brings temps down into the mid 30's - low 40's under mostly clear skies.

Sunday's cooldown is brought to us by a cold air damming setup as high pressure positions itself in the northeast, funneling easterly/cool winds across the Carolinas. Depending upon the strength of the high pressure system, we will likely only see minor cloud development but temps should level out to near normal levels in the mid 40's - upper 50's. The Great Balsams and Highlands Plateau do a wonderful job at stopping moisture from a CAD but cooler air tends to win out compared to moisture intrusion, hence the forecast for more sunshine than cloud cover.

Rain chances return Monday morning with a frontal passage but only a tenth of an inch is expected, followed by a possible (stressing the word possible here) quarter - half inch of rain on Tuesday. We'll stop here because early next week is likely to change as we move through the week, but the setup is the best we have seen in a while and we'll take anything at this point. Our next discussion comes out Friday around 12 - 2pm. ENJOY!

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