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A cold, snowy-looking morning

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Despite it looking and feeling like it could snow this morning, we have zero chance of snow flakes today. Ok, you could see a very stray, lonely snow flake fly around out there but don’t strain your eyes trying to see it (ha). Hopefully we’ll see some sunshine tomorrow. After that, it could be a while before we see sunny skies again.  The rain should hold off until Sunday morning, with rain continuing through the day.  Rain chances drop a bit for Monday and Tuesday, with mainly scattered showers around. Temps stay mild through the week next week.

You may be wondering what’s causing these cloudy skies. We’ve had a lot of them lately! You have heard of the jet stream, which you know brings us cold weather when it dips south of us. Well, there’s also a subtropical jet. Sometimes the jet that you’re familiar with splits in the west as it interacts with North America, with the northern branch jetting northward, and the southern branch of the jetstream jetting eastward. The subtropical jet is what is sending so many clouds our way these days, as it is rather active and is always very moisture-loaded, especially when it crosses the Gulf of Mexico. The northern branch of the jet is at a much higher altitude than the southern jet, which means they can sometimes cross each other. When the northern branch dips to our south and the southern branch goes over the top of us, we get wintry precip. We call this “phasing of the jet streams.” That’s what happened last week when the Deep South got all that snow. The two are almost phasing over Maryland today. I created a graphic to show you what I mean.

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Speaking of wintry precip, folks are really starting to ask about Christmas. The models continue to show a storm system in our area Christmas weekend, which makes things more interesting. Right now, it looks very wet in the days leading up to Christmas, with a cold front moving through Christmas Eve night. I’m still not sure if we’ll see any wintry precip, but it certainly looks rainy the Saturday and Sunday of Christmas weekend. Maybe we’ll at least be cool for Christmas Day. I don’t see a big snow out of this but we could get some flurries after the front passes? It’s just too soon to know. I’ll keep watching it.

I wrote an article for the Fentress Courier about white Christmases on the Plateau. I’m including it below. I hope you enjoy it and that you learn something.  You all have a great weekend!

Snow for Christmas?

It’s that time of year when everyone starts wondering if we’ll have a white Christmas. I think it’s probably the most asked question any meteorologist gets throughout the year. It’s rarely an easy question to answer, especially for this part of the country.

Statistically, we have about a 10% chance of a white Christmas on the Cumberland Plateau. Folks to our east, in the valley of East Tennessee, have a much slimmer chance, as do the folks to our west, over toward Nashville.

While our chances are only about 10%, that does not necessarily tell the whole story. The official definition of a white Christmas is one inch or more of snow on the ground on Christmas Day. Anything less than an inch doesn’t qualify. I don’t know about you, but I think some light snow with just a dusting or so on the trees would be the perfect white Christmas, especially if the roads stay clear.

Measuring that one inch of snow comes with some rules, too. The National Weather Service has a set of guidelines for ensuring the most accurate measurement of snow. The first step is to find a good, easy-to-read ruler. Next, find an exposed area that is level. I like to find a picnic table that is out in an open area. Measure the snow on a flat surface. Now, do that two more times in two different locations. Finally, take the average of the three measurements and that’s how you get an official measurement of snow.

Now you are all ready to measure that next big snow that we get! After the lack of snow we got last winter, some of us are ready to get those rulers out!

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