What a difference a week makes. Christmas 2020 goes down as the second-coldest Christmas on record in Oneida, at 17 degrees (the coldest was Christmas 1983, at just 3 degrees), and the coldest day overall in Scott County in more than five years (we topped out at 13 degrees in late February 2015). At least an inch of snow fell in all of Scott County, making this the first white Christmas in 10 years.
By contrast, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day promise to be mild and wet, with the potential for thunderstorms and perhaps even a slight risk of severe weather.
A cold front will enter the region on Thursday (New Year’s Eve), followed by a strong low pressure system that will develop in the Gulf of Mexico and trek up the Mississippi River Valley — a rather unusual track for a storm system during the winter months. With the Cumberland Plateau region being on the east side of the storm, we’ll be pulling in moisture from the Gulf of Mexico … and, even in late December or early January, that rich gulf moisture can sometimes be a key ingredient for strong to severe thunderstorms.
For now, there isn’t a lot of concern about severe weather, and the National Weather Service hasn’t even added thunder to its forecast for the northern plateau region. But it’s something to keep an eye on as the week progresses. At the very least, it should be wet; at least 2-3 inches of rain appear possible for Scott County.
There won’t be much in the way of cold air on the back side of the system, although it will cool down for the weekend. The next major storm system appears set to impact the region about a week later, in the January 9-10 time frame. As is the case with the upcoming storm system, it currently looks like a rain-maker.
If you’re a snow-lover, there just isn’t a lot of hope for wintry weather in the first half of January. The teleconnections don’t support much in the way of cold air for our part of the country over the next couple of weeks. However, a sudden stratospheric warming event appears to be shaping up over the polar region as we speak, and that can sometimes lead to much colder air in the continental U.S. a couple of weeks down the road. So, don’t be surprised if we see some arctic outbreaks in the second half of January. For now, though, there’s nothing on the horizon that seems especially interesting.