Weekend Warmup: 60's Possible

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By Quincy Vagell on January 9, 2013, 5:55pm Last modified: January 11, 2013, 9:17am

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A significant warm-up is expected this weekend. Temperatures in the 50's are currently forecast, but if there is enough sunshine, don't be surprised to see some 60's inland.

Thursday: Highs 45 to 50. (mostly sunny)
Friday: Highs 40 to 45. (overcast, possible showers)
Saturday: Highs 51 to 56 inland. (warmer if enough sunshine)
Sunday: Highs 55 to 60 inland. (warmer if enough sunshine)

Given the model data we are seeing, temperatures could hit 60 or higher in Connecticut.
The forecast has slowly been trending up because the computer forecast models are playing catch-up. As recently as this morning, the MOS was forecasting highs only in the upper 40's to near 50. As of this afternoon, that forecast now has low to mid-50's.

The first thing I like to look at when forecasting high temperatures are 850mb temperatures. These are temperatures that occur approximately 5000 feet above the ground. Why are they important? Well, it's easier for computer models to accurately predict temperatures well above the ground. Closer to the Earth's surface, in the "boundary layer," many variables can affect how high (or low) temperatures are.
All computer models are in good agreement with 850mb temperatures approaching +10C on Saturday and as high as +11 or +12C by Sunday.
Using the 850mb method I researched/developed in college, that alone says high temperatures on a partly sunny day in January would rise to between 57 and 59F. There are other things to consider.
A forecast for such above normal air in the middle of winter relies heavily on cloud-cover. If skies go mostly sunny, you can add a few degrees onto the "850mb method," meaning temperatures could get into the lower 60's. Clouds and especially precipitation lead to cooler temperatures.

How have analog dates (with similar weather patterns) checked out at Bradley Airport?

Similar conditions, but mostly cloudy or cloudy...
12/30/90: 53F
02/01/88: 54F
02/16/05: 55F
12/14/91: 58F

Similar conditions, but partly sunny...
12/17/96: 56F
01/04/93: 61F
11/30/06: 64F

Similar conditions, but mostly sunny...
01/06/07: 72F

Similar conditions, but full sunshine...
12/07/98: 76F

Temperatures generally get stuck in the 50's if we were mostly cloudy, but throw in some sunshine and readings bumped up into the 60's. Even two cases saw 70's...

Image below shows the the two warmest analogs, as well as the 12z GFS forecast:

There are reasons why I don't think we will get into the 70's...
Partial cloud-cover is predicted by the models.
Damp and cold ground may limit just how high near-surface temperatures can go. 
Snow-cover might hang on in some areas. 

Stay tuned to WXedge.com for the latest forecasts and discussions.

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Quincy Vagell

Town: Marlborough, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since January 2012.

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