Brief warmup, but chilly Christmas forecast

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 19, 2020

By Skip Rigney

This past week has been cool, but milder temperatures are on the way especially for Tuesday and Wednesday. But, don’t be fooled. Those of you who like to use the same clothes for July 4th and Christmas won’t be able to pull that off this year, as sharply colder air is forecast to arrive by Christmas Eve.

High temperatures since this past Monday have been ten or more degrees cooler-than-average. Low temperatures have only been a few degrees below normal except for Wednesday night and early Thursday, when clear skies and no wind were perfect for overnight cooling. Most of the county had nine to twelve hours of freezing temperatures with lows bottoming out in the middle to upper 20s on Thursday morning.

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Last week I wrote about a series of waves in the jet stream that were forecast to move across the country from west to east, and how as they passed to our north they would trigger rain in our area.

That is pretty much what happened. The first two waves brought generally light amounts of rain across the county last Saturday morning and on Sunday night. The third wave, which passed by on Tuesday night, resulted in heavier amounts ranging from a few tenths of an inch up to three-quarters of an inch.

Since Wednesday it’s been dry, but the fourth wave of the week is in Texas today (Saturday) and headed our way. It will help generate surface low pressure along the northern Gulf Coast, and that means a good chance of rain for us this evening and overnight.

There is a cool front associated with the surface low, but don’t expect much of a cool down after it passes. The air blowing into our area on northwest winds on Sunday and Monday is coming from the Pacific Ocean. It will be cool, but quite seasonable with highs on Sunday and Monday in the lower 60s and lows near 40. Those temperatures are very close to average for this time in December.

As one would expect in December, there is plenty of cold air in the far north. Santa Claus is probably looking forward to his annual tour of warmer locales later this week. However, even the North Pole hasn’t been as cold as northern Russia lately. The coldest place on the planet these days is in Siberia.

Even more amazing than the cold is the fact that there are people who live there. Yakutsk, Russia, has a population of over 300,000. Their high temperatures this week are forecast to be somewhere around 50 degrees, below zero.

That’s a far cry from the 70 degrees above zero that is possible here on Wednesday.  However, with the warmth returning from the Gulf, there will also be plenty of moisture in the air. An approaching cold front will force that moist air to rise, raising our rain chances Wednesday, and especially Wednesday night.

After the front passes, cold, dry air is forecast to surge into south Mississippi during the day and into the night on Christmas Eve. We can look forward to a frosty Christmas morning and a chilly Christmas day. At least Santa will be able to warm up in Australia.

The city of Sydney’s Christmas lows will be in the 70s with highs near 90.