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March 21, 2014

First full day of spring doesn't mean winter weather's done

Friday might have been the first full day of spring, but some forecasts call for winter weather to return next week.

Spring is starting out quite nicely, but don’t put away the winter coats just yet. The equinox yesterday signifies more sunlight and warmer days ahead. We’re starting off quite nicely with highs in the 60s for the Triangle today and 70s forecast for tomorrow.

By Sunday, things will change. Clouds will take over and the chance for rain returns as a system moves through and brings colder air. The sun will return on Monday, but with the cold front to our south, the Triangle will be sitting in unusually cold air for late March with high temperatures expected to be in the 40s. Our average high for today is 65 degrees, but it’s always good to remember that it takes peaks and valleys to get an average. Monday starts a week of our weather sitting in a valley.

By Tuesday, the models are predicting a coastal low will quickly develop off the Carolina coast. Because the cold air will already be in place, and the storm will take shape rapidly, the set up is for either rain or snow, not one of those wintry mixes with sleet and freezing rain. So, when you look at the five day forecast this evening and see “rain/snow” on Tuesday, you can be pretty sure that is what we should see. So at least, if we have another snow day, snow might actually be involved.

If the precipitation is light and the temperature hovers around 33 degrees, we’ll expect rain with a few flakes mixed in. If there is a band or two of heavier precipitation, we could see some real snow because the atmosphere will cool pretty quickly as a result and remain cool enough to support it.

Of course, all forecasts farther than three days out really do require a disclaimer. The model outputs may change between now and then. It only takes one or two degrees to make a difference in all rain or all snow.

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