FIRED UP FOR FIFTIES...
As one who likes his snow (especially around Christmas), I'm not real thrilled about seeing 50s back in the forecast. But, like it or not, they are coming, so I'm going to do what any sensible individual would do...enjoy them! My plan is to get them in, get them out, and work on the return of a more wintry pattern by Christmas week. Of course, that's easier said than done, but that's the end goal.
This warm-up that's coming has been on the table for some time, and it's tied to a burst of westerlies that flattens the jet Wednesday and Thursday. That orange paint bomb over the middle of the nation is the mild Pacific air downsloping off the Rockies. That's the way you get 50s on the board in December.
The warm-up itself will be the most pronounced Thursday and Friday. Wednesday is a transition day that serves to turn winds to the southwest and start the moderating process. Clouds appear to be extensive, which means the warming will be more aloft than at the surface. Upper 30s to mid 40s should be the range from north to south.
With the addition of some sunshine Thursday and a bit of Friday, highs are likely to advance into the range of 50-56 north to south Thursday and more likely 52-59 Friday. If sunshine is more plentiful than expected, a few spots in the far south might reach 60+. Despite the warmth, it appears we should be several degrees short of records. Below are the benchmarks that would have to be attained for records to be achieved.
Record highs for December 7th... Burlington.......66 in 1916 Cedar Rapids.....62 in 1916 Dubuque..........61 in 1916 Moline...........66 in 1916 Record highs for December 8th... Burlington.......69 in 1991 Cedar Rapids.....65 in 1958 Dubuque..........63 in 1946 Moline...........67 in 1991
Here's the temperature departures indicated on the EURO Friday afternoon. Those translate to highs more typical of mid to late October.
All good things must end, and so it is with the balmy conditions. The downturn comes in the form of a cold front that arrives Friday night. This is also the point where models begin to show differences with the depth of the cold air and how it will impact a potential storm over the weekend. I'll say it once again, phasing is playing a big role in how models see the situation evolving. (By phasing, I'm talking about the interaction of energy between the northern and southern branches of the jet). A fully phased system will have cold air from the polar jet (northern branch) as well as moisture from the sub-tropical jet (southern branch). That's how you get your big snowstorms in winter.
Yesterday, all the major models were converging on the energy being bundled into a central location, creating a deep mid-latitude cyclone. I was very leery of that solution, as I've been burned by such trends early in storm development on more than a few occasions, and said as much in my last post.
Today, we see an increasing split in the energy. See how the two branches are separated, limiting cold air and the consolidation of energy. We will still see some precipitation, but overall the storm is far weaker and the energy is handed off in two chunks instead of one.
Compare that to the fully phased option that was offered up the previous day below. That's a significant difference in energy distribution.
Assuming models don't revert to a more aggressive solution (very unlikely), we end up with a system that still brings precipitation, but it's lighter and there is less cold air. It also means it starts as rain with a much smaller chance of changing to snow before ending. I'm still not confident we are seeing the full picture, but we are getting there. Some changes are still possible, but I don't see this system bringing much in the way of wintry weather, if any.
So as things stand now, it appears the front passes just to the east Friday night before a low pressure rides NE along it Saturday. The EURO shows a surface depiction that looks like this early Saturday morning. Rain has spread through the area Friday night and is continuing Saturday morning as the low tracks from Missouri into Illinois. As the low reaches Illinois, enough cold air may wrap into it to make a brief transition to snow or at least a mix, especially in the NW half of the region.
With the front close by Saturday morning, the far SE will see another day of mild temperatures, especially in the morning. Note the contrast from NW to SE Saturday morning at 9:00am on the GFS
As far as precipitation goes, both the EURO and GFS indicate some moderate amounts in eastern Iowa if current trends hold. This would be very welcome in that area where severe to extreme drought still resides.
The final hurdle is snow, will there be a changeover from rain and if so, do we see accumulations? All bets are off on this as trends continue to show a decrease in snow potential. Here's what the EURO and GFS are currently suggesting.
By Sunday, colder air has returned to all the region, with highs back in the 30s in all location. Again, there's still some doubt as to how this all plays out, so check back tomorrow to see if everything remains in track. For now, I think we get out of it in pretty good shape. Roll weather...TS
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