Ups and downs of winter in the South

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, January 12, 2016

This week began with the coldest nights of the winter, but temperatures are on their way back up through Friday.
That’s the nature of our winters here in the deep South. We may be cold for a few days, but usually that’s followed by a warm up, with highs in the 60s such as we’ll see the rest of this week.
For people in the northern tier of states, winter is their defining season. Sometime in November or December it gets cold and, even though the temperatures fluctuate, it usually stays cold until scattered milder days sneak back in March or April.
For example, consider Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since Nov. 18, the temperature has reached 50 degrees only once. And, it’s been below freezing every night since Dec. 15. In Minneapolis, once winter shows up, people expect it to hang around for a while.
If you watched the NFL playoff game in Minneapolis on Sunday between the hometown Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks, you know that it was a cold day, even for Minnesotans, with the temperature hovering around six below zero.
Well, not all Minnesotans considered that cold. Bud Grant, 88-year-old legendary former head coach of the Vikings, walked out to midfield for the coin toss in his short sleeve polo shirt, apparently to show the rest of the country just how wimpy we truly are when it comes to braving cold weather.
For those of us in the deep South, summer is our defining season. Once it gets hot in late May or early June, we know that there is little hope of relief until September.
Meanwhile, up north during summer, they certainly can have some hot days. But, they can usually expect some breaks from time to time. They might even have to grab a sweater in the evenings even in July. (I know. Hard to imagine.)
All of which leads me to wonder: if Bud Grant wears short sleeves when it’s six below zero, what would he wear in Mississippi in July?
At any rate, roller coaster temperatures are par for the course in winter in our area, and this week will be a prime example.
After a moderate freeze on Monday morning and near freezing on Tuesday morning, we’re done with freezing temperatures through at least Saturday morning. Lows Wednesday through Saturday mornings will be in the 40s to near 50 degrees. Highs will be in the 60s.
Surface high pressure will dominate the first half of the week, before giving way to a weak low in the Gulf on Thursday and Friday. That low and an approaching cold front from the northwest means a slight chance of showers Thursday and Friday.
Our next surge of cold surface high pressure should be here by Saturday night, sending our thermal roller coaster downward. There is disagreement between the computer models on just how cold it will get, except to say that highs on Sunday probably won’t get out of the 50s, and may not get that warm.
Of course, if you’re Bud Grant, that’s swimsuit weather.

By Skip Rigney

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