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  • Tim McGill

From Flurries To 50s This Week

Mostly 40s & 50s This Week

We saw a couple of seasonably cold days over the weekend. Sunday's high of 37° tied for the second coldest day of the season so far but it was only 1° below average. By Chicago winter standards we have been lucky for the first week of winter. It will feel and look wintry again today with some light snow or flurries at times mainly early changing possibly mixing with some sprinkles. Light accumulation possible mainly in northern Indiana where up to a half inch is possible in a few spots.

Today's highs will again be right around average. Look for highs in the upper 30s.

Most of this week will be relatively mild. Possibly three days of the next seven will see highs of 50° or warmer. Models do hint at a return to a colder pattern with possibly the coldest air of the season so far arriving late this weekend. Highs on Saturday will be well into the 40s but hit early in the day followed by falling temperatures. Sunday's highs will only be in the lower to middle 30s.

The GFS model temperature anomaly forecast best illustrates just how warm most of the country will be by Wednesday compared to average. Just look at all the bright red on the map. The Midwest will be around 16° to 18° above average according to this forecast. That would mean highs in the lower to possibly middle 50s.

Sticking Snow Next Weekend?

We will see some light snow or flurries at times today especially near the lakeshore but our most significant snow of the season so far could be arriving next weekend. The GFS model has rain developing late Friday and into Saturday . Colder air could catch up with this system as early as late Saturday change some the rain over to snow. Odds are a little bit better for snow on Sunday. We are still seven days away from that possible snow so take this with a few grains of salt. The models are not in total agreement yet on how this will play out.

The weekend snowfall forecast from the GFS model and the the European model have some major differences.

The GFS model shows a swath of significant snow well northwest of Illinois. The heaviest band runs from eastern South Dakota through northeastern Minnesota where up to nearly a foot of snow could fall. It barely squeezes out a dusting of snow here.

The European model is laying down a swath of heavier snow well north of Illinois with up to a foot of snow across portions of northern Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan. About a half inch of snow expected here next Sunday with an inch or so in portions of northern Indiana.

There is a lot less snow on the ground this year compared to a year ago. At this point in 2019 about 36.3% of the contiguous U.S. had snowfall with an average depth of 2.4 inches (lower left image). This year about 12.4% of the country has snow cover with an average depth of .8 inches (lower right image). So we roughly have a third of the amount of snow on the ground now compared to a year ago.

"Mild" Through Start Of Next Year?

After a brief brush with a couple of seasonably cold days it looks like a relatively mild pattern through the third week of December. The 6-10 day temperature probability forecast has us outlooked for above average temperatures overall from December 12th through December 16th. The longer range 8-14 day forecast from December 14th through the 20th has us even higher probabilities of us being above average overall.

Could this mild pattern continue into the start of 2021? The experimental multi-model ensemble keeps the above average temperatures overall coming through both the week ending on Christmas day and the week ending on New Year's Day. The area of orange and red that represents temperatures at least 1° to 5° or more above average grows bigger and moves more over the Midwest during this two week period.

Precipitation Pattern Change

We have only seen precipitation on ten of the past thirty-seven days. This quiet precipitation pattern may be coming to an end. The longer range precipitation probabilities forecast favors us for above normal precipitation overall through the third week of the month. The 6-10 day forecast from December 12th through December 16th has us outlooked for above average precipitation overall. The 8-14 day forecast from December 14th through December 20th has above average overall too. An above average precipitation forecast doesn't guarantee above average snowfall even in December. There is a relatively mild forecast through December as mentioned above so some, if not most, of this precipitation may be in the form of rain.

Here is my 7 day forecast:

Today: Mostly cloudy, light snow/flurries at times High: 38

Tuesday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 29 High: 43

Wednesday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 33 High: 53

Thursday: Mostly sunny Low: 36 High: 50

Friday: Mostly cloudy, light rain late Low: 37 High: 50

Saturday: Mostly cloudy, light rain Low: 39 High: 48 (temps fall pm)

Sunday: Snow mainly early then partly to mostly cloudy Low: 29 High: 35



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