Battle Between Warm & Cold Air

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By Quincy Vagell on December 13, 2012, 6:45pm Last modified: December 14, 2012, 11:26pm

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A storm system is forecast to bring some wintry weather on Sunday. Depending on how much warm air moves in, some areas could see snow, icy or just plain rain.

Light snow is will move into the area Sunday morning ahead of a warm front. A wintry mix is expected along the immediate shoreline. Portions of northern Connecticut may pick up an inch or two of snow before warmer air lifts northward. Most areas are expected to change to plain rain, but that transition period from cold to warm could cause issues.

Overrunning precipitation should fall in the form of snow Sunday morning, although a marine influence could lead to mixed precipitation along the shoreline. As the day wears on, an easterly surface flow combined with a southwest flow aloft will lead to a warming of the boundary layer. Although all of the models show a change to plain rain, there are some strong signals that cold air damming may lead to colder than expected temperatures. With high pressure just north of New England and a surface low projected to develop south of CT, colder air may hang on across NW and NE CT. The wind direction near the surface may verify more northeasterly than currently modeled. Even the NAM and SREF only bring temperatures into the mid-30's for high temperatures, so it only takes a slightly cooler trend to cause a period of icing. Couple this with precipitation amounts around or even a little over 0.5 inches and there is a potential for accumulating snow and ice.
As it stands now, it looks like snow transitions over to freezing rain and perhaps a bit of sleet for northern CT, while southern sections quickly go from a wintry mix to plain rain by midday Sunday. Near the MA border, colder air locked in near the surface could spell a period of freezing rain. The models are not in solid agreement just yet and the GFS/NAM trended slightly colder this afternoon. The situation matches up very closely with the Jan. 15 event of 2001. With that event, low pressure moved into Michigan and a new surface low formed just south of Connecticut. The result was a 1 to 3 inch snowfall for northern CT along with some icing. However, high temperatures even in northern CT eventually made it above freezing. (BDL reached 34F)

Image below shows how warmer air is forecast to move northward Sunday afternoon:

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Quincy Vagell

Town: Marlborough, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since January 2012.

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