Hey, look: A warming trend! (But it won't last)

It’s only 10:30 a.m. on this Tuesday morning, and already the temperature has nudged up to 21 degrees in Oneida — tying yesterday’s high*, according to the National Weather Service’s data.

(*The NWS data is collected at the Oneida Water Plant, but I wouldn’t trust it too much. Most areas didn’t get out of the teens on Monday, and as of 10:30 a.m., the official temperature was still at just 9 degrees in Crossville. Even in the valley, at Oak Ridge, the temperature was just 16 at 10 a.m. Higher elevations can warm more quickly than valley locations if there’s a southerly breeze in effect, but that isn’t happening today…plus Crossville is, like Oneida, atop the Cumberland Plateau. Anyway…)

We dipped to zero this morning, officially, making it the first time the mercury has hit zero in Oneida since Feb. 19, 2015 — when we plunged all the way to -11 in the aftermath of a late-season ice storm.

The NWS is forecasting a high of just 22 today. That’s not what makes this a warming trend. What makes it a warming trend is tomorrow, when we’re expected to climb above freezing, just briefly in the afternoon, hitting 33 degrees.

If and when we do get to 33, it’ll be the first time we’ve been above freezing since Saturday. But it won’t be much of a respite, with temperatures plunging back to 11 degrees tomorrow night and getting to just 21 on Thursday as another wave of arctic air rolls in.

The Oneida Special School District has already announced a two-hour delay for the remainder of the week, due to the cold temperatures. We’re expected to be back in the single digits on Friday morning, with temps again hitting just 21 on Friday afternoon, followed by a low in the single digits once more on Saturday morning.

The real warming trend begins at the end of the weekend. The GFS forecast model is showing temps getting above freezing on Saturday, thought the NWS doesn’t agree, but everyone is in agreement that we should be well in agreement by Sunday as a southerly flow kicks in. And by Sunday night, we might not drop below freezing even during the overnight hours as a storm system impacts the region. That’s quite a change from what we’re experiencing now, when we can’t manage more than 21 or 22 degrees even under a completely sunny sky.

Again, though, the milder weather will not last. It’s looking increasingly likely that we’ll get slammed with another arctic wave next week, in the aftermath of the storm system. It won’t be as prolonged as the one we’re experiencing now, but temps are likely to crash back into the single digits at night.

The good news is it looks like we’ll rebound quickly towards the end of next week, with temperatures then routinely getting above freezing each day through the third week of the month. But there’s no sustained warm-up in sight, as the GFS forecast model is indicating a maximum temperature of 42 degrees for the next 15 days. It’s almost unheard of, even in January, for us to go an entire month without touching 50 degrees. But if something doesn’t change in the last two weeks of the month, that could very well happen, it appears.

If you like snow, you continue to find yourself out of luck. There are no bonafide snow threats on the table for now. There are storm signals around Jan. 12-13 and again around Jan. 17-18 that meteorologists will be keeping an eye on, but for now it looks like those will be rain-makers. This is a lot of cold air to not have any snow to show for it, if snow is your thing, but it’s not unprecedented. Astute weather observers might remember 2010, when nighttime lows were in the single digits for eight of the first 14 days of January (with temps in the teens five of the other six days to start the month) and it didn’t snow a single flake during that span.

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