Stepping outside this afternoon, you'd never be able to guess that we're a little over 24 hours away from another blast of winter! Temperatures areawide are warming through the upper 50s and into the lower 60s, and we still have a little warming to go. Skies are sunny, and it's turning out to be a beautiful Thursday afternoon.
Skies will continue to be mostly clear through the afternoon and into much of tonight. After highs areawide in the low to maybe mid 60s, we drop through the 40s in the evening and into the upper 30s and lower 40s by daybreak on Friday. The daytime hours of Friday will be warm as well, as we once again climb into the mid 60s. However, a cold front will be moving in toward sunset, and this will bring a radical change to the weather in our area.
Rain showers will move in during the early to mid evening just behind the cold front as low pressure tracks through central Alabama into north Georgia. However, cold air will rapidly move in, and that will quickly change the rain to snow from west to east as we head into the late evening hours. Snowfall may be heavy at times during the late evening and overnight, and with gusty winds of 20-30 mph or even a little greater in spots, that may cause visibility to be significantly reduced. Temperatures will rapidly drop below freezing as the snow starts to pick up in the late evening. Although there will be some initial melting at first, that melting and the evaporation from the gusty winds will rapidly cool the contact layer of the ground and allow for accumulation. Grassy surfaces and elevated surfaces will see snow accumulate first, and this includes bridges and overpasses. However, as we go through the overnight and temperatures drop into the 20s, even surface roads may become a problem. Travel impacts are likely because of this from the overnight hours into at least the morning hours of Saturday. Overall, we expect a general 1 to 3 inches of snow for much of southern Tennessee and into northwest and far northern Alabama. However, there is the potential for isolated areas to see a little more than that. Also keep in mind that snow events accumulate unevenly here based on terrain, and there may also be places that receive under an inch.
Skies clear with time as we head into Saturday, and getting some sunshine on the roadways will help improve driving conditions. However, afternoon highs look to only reach the low to mid 30s, and it's very possible that the clouds could linger longer than expected. We get into the upper teens Saturday night; so, anything that melts will refreeze if it does not evaporate. The good news is that temperatures recover quickly starting Sunday. We're in the 50s on Sunday, 60s for Monday and Tuesday, and we just might be in the lower 70s by Wednesday! We can certainly get cold temperatures this time of year, but with the higher sun angle, it's a lot harder to get that cold to last for too long.