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Providence weather: Dry, cold weather until Thursday

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Forecast discussion: After this morning’s quick dusting to an inch of snow across Rhode Island, a strong high pressure system over Minnesota will be controlling our weather pattern for the next few days. The high will bring down some colder air from Canada, as temperatures will be quite cold during the overnight this evening and Tuesday night. Also, our high temperatures will be well below normal for early February, as they only reach the middle 20’s.

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As the high slowly moves towards the east, this will help set up a series of low pressure systems to move into the Southeast U.S. the next couple of nights. We will be watching the development of a low pressure center over the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This low will bring wintry weather for the Southeast U.S. Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. This low will then move into the Atlantic, and will bring us another winter storm for Wednesday night into Thursday. However, the biggest problem at the moment is the low’s track.

Over the last few days, the computer models I use have been coming up with different scenarios. They all involve the low’s track. If it goes further out to sea, colder air will remain over us, making it stay as snow. But, without a strong high pressure system over eastern Canada, warmer air will move in faster. So, this will determine how quickly the snow changes to rain. At this time, I am going in between the European and United Kingdom models. The precipitation will start off as snow, with a snow/rain mix for the south coast by the morning commute. As we receive warmer air, the precipitation will change over to rain. By the late evening on Thursday, colder air will move back over the region, changing the precipitation back to snow showers. The snow showers will end by early Friday morning.

At this time, my confidence in the forecast for this storm still remains low. If the track changes even 30 miles to the east or west, this will greatly change the precipitation type and timing. I will continue to watch the computer models, and update you on any changes tomorrow night. Because of the uncertainty, I will not discuss any snowfall totals, until I have more confidence in the forecast track.

With confidence, I can tell you the system moves away from Southern New England by Friday afternoon, and we will see partly sunny skies. The American model is showing a low pressure system moving over New England on Saturday, and we could see some snow showers during the morning and afternoon. Once the low moves offshore, a new high pressure system will give us dry weather right into early next week.

72 hour forecast:

Tonight: Partly cloudy and cold with a low of 11.
Tuesday: Mostly sunny with a high of 25. Winds will come from the northwest at 10-13 mph.
Tuesday night: Partly cloudy and very cold with the mercury falling to 7 degrees. Winds will come from the north-northwest at 5-8 mph.
Wednesday: Mostly sunny with increasing clouds by the evening commute. We will see a high of 26.
Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy with patchy fog by 11 p.m. Light snow starts around 3 a.m. We will see a low of 21.
Thursday: Snow changes over to rain by the afternoon. We will see a high of 39.
Thursday night: Rain slowly changes back to snow showers by 10 p.m. We will see a low of 30.

Extended Forecast:
Friday: Snow showers end by 3 a.m., with partly sunny skies. Highs 39-42, lows 24-27.
Saturday: Cloudy skies with scattered snow showers by the early morning, ending in the mid-afternoon. Highs 34-37, lows 14-17.
Sunday: Partly sunny. Highs 33-36, lows 11-14.
Monday: Mostly sunny. Highs 32-35, lows 13-16.

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