Warming Trend, Until New Year's Day.
Short term issues are the cloud cover and its impact on temperatures as well as any light showers that they might cause. Longer term, there remains some uncertainty regarding the New Year's weekend although the latest guidance has come into better agreement, at least for now.
Southerly winds will help to warm things up over the next few days although the winds are not expected to be quite as strong on Tuesday. A thicker, high level cirrus cloud deck will likely hamper the warm-up for Tuesday and a lower level stratus cloud deck will likely do the same on Wednesday. As a result, we expect daytime highs to be well into the 40s for Tuesday and the 50s on Wednesday and if the clouds should be thinner than expected, we may be even warmer.
By Wednesday, the pressure gradient will also start to tighten up resulting in strong and gusty southerly winds which will continue into the day Thursday. Right now, it looks like a dry slot will move over us for Thursday and there are some indications of a more SW surface wind. If so, the mid-upper 60s that I am now forecasting will not be warm enough.
By Friday, all the available guidance has been in good agreement that a strong cold front will be pushing across the state during the morning hours. Showers and possibly even some thunder will likely occur along and ahead of the front followed by sharply falling temperatures as our winds shift to northerly. That is why I have what we refer to as an inverted temperature profile on Friday with the warmest temperatures early in the day and the coldest temperatures later in the day; just the reverse of the normal di-urnal temperature range. Of course, the timing of that cold front could change all that, but so far that seems to be reasonable.
Then, there is the weekend. The various longer range projections have already flipped several times and now the consensus suggests the weekend will be dry, but much colder. The caveat is how much energy aloft hangs back to the west behind the cold surface air that will be in place for Saturday and Sunday. At least some energy will move overhead on Saturday, but the question that has still not been adequately resolved is whether it will be enough to produce anything more than cloud cover. Given the limited moisture and apparent lack of a sufficiently strong lifting mechanism, I have opted to keep us mostly cloudy and cold for New Year's Day. If anything does fall from the sky, it should be very light with no accumulation.
Of course, that solution may flip several more times before the actual system gets into a better data sampling area, so stay tuned and check back for updates.