It might seem a little early in the season for ice, but the National Weather Service has introduced freezing rain to the forecast for late in the week.
The current NWS forecast for Oneida calls for a 30% chance of rain or freezing rain Friday morning, and a 20% chance of rain or freezing rain Friday night.
To be clear, troublesome amounts of freezing rain aren’t expected. In fact, temperatures are borderline enough that freezing rain may not occur at all. Nevertheless, the introduction of freezing rain into the forecast is noteworthy, as the coldest temperatures of the season bear down on the northern Cumberland Plateau.
“Temps will still be chilly, and diurnal temps result in wintry mixes in the mornings, but still not expecting much more than nuisance impacts,” a forecaster from the NWS’s Morristown office noted in a Sunday afternoon forecast discussion.
The introduction of freezing rain to the forecast comes after some meteorologists in the region have pondered the chances for a little snow as the cooler temperatures arrive.
In fact, the NWS’s Nashville office has snow in the forecast for its coverage area on the plateau, which includes Jamestown and Fentress County, Thursday night and again Friday night.
No matter what, any wintry precipitation that occurs should be very minor, with no real accumulation expected. Meteorologists at the NWS’s Nashville office noted in a Sunday afternoon forecast discussion that “there could be a small overlap in freezing temps along with the moisture, so we could see a rain/flurry mix Thursday and Friday mornings.”
Freezing rain occurs when the layer of cold air is relatively shallow, with sub-freezing temperatures limited to the lower levels of the atmosphere. In such a setup, above-freezing temperatures aloft prevent precipitation from forming as snow, and the lower level cold air is so shallow that the precipitation does not have time to freeze into sleet before reaching the surface. So, it falls as rain, then freezes on contact.
Given the warm ground temperatures, the borderline air temperatures and the light nature of the precipitation, any ice that does form will be limited primarily to elevated surfaces, like tree limbs and power lines, and will be very minor in nature.
October ended on Sunday with 2021 becoming just the third year on record in Oneida without the season’s first freeze occurring by Halloween. It looks like the first freeze of the season may occur with the next round of cooler temperatures at the end of the week, but it will be borderline. The current forecast for Oneida from the NWS calls for a low temperature of 31° Thursday night, and a low of 31° again on Friday night before a low of 32° on Saturday night.
The first flirtation with freezing temperatures may actually come a little sooner, as colder air moves in on Tuesday. The current forecast is for a low of 32° Tuesday night. The high temperature is only expected to be in the 40s each day from Wednesday through at least Saturday as temperatures that are much below normal for early November invade the region.