Beautiful for now, but big changes are coming

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Main Threats

Saturday: Heavy rainfall that could cause flooding issues

Late Saturday night: wintry mix that could impact travel

Summary

We’ll see mostly cloudy skies today and chilly temperatures. It’s a good day for a big cup of hot chocolate! Models try to clear these clouds out by this afternoon, but they did that for yesterday’s weather, too. These are the stubborn, low-hanging stratus clouds that just love to hang out over the plateau in the winter time. I wouldn’t be surprised if they hang around all day. The most precip they could drop would be a flurry or two and some drizzle.

By tomorrow, we should see some sun peak through from time to time. That will help us warm us into the upper 40s and maybe even 50 degrees. We will also watch our next quick-moving system take shape and head our way for Thursday.

Thursday’s system will be all rain. It will also be a fast mover, therefore there will be no flooding issues or long periods of heavy rainfall. This system will be out of here by Friday but the clouds from our big weekend storm will likely already be starting to stream in, preventing us from getting much sun on Friday.

Friday will be cloudy and mild; the calm before the storm. Clouds will thicken Friday night and it will likely be raining by the time you wake up Saturday. This system is potent, folks, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some strong thunderstorms across Middle TN. One or two of those may scoot onto the plateau in the afternoon or evening. I wouldn’t even be surprised if there are a couple of severe storms to our west, over near Nashville.

The rain will be the biggest headline for Saturday. It continues to look as if we will pick up at least 2 inches of rain, with higher amounts of 3-4 inches possible in isolated locations. With our saturated soils, that water has few places to go. Be mindful of flooded roadways and flood-prone areas (ie. Grassy Cove).

Then, the arctic front moves through Saturday night, sending temperatures tumbling downwards. This will likely be the coldest air we have felt thus far this season. I expect to put single digit lows on Monday and/or Tuesday.

As that cold air rushes in, any leftover moisture will turn to a wintry mix late Saturday night. This could include a transition that goes from rain to freezing rain, then to sleet, and then to snow. How long we stay in the transition from freezing rain to snow is something I’ll have to keep an eye on. Right now, I think we’ll get a little bit of ice (under 1/4″), followed by an inch or two of snow. Stay tuned, as this forecast could change as I get a better handle on where exactly that low is going to track and what time the cold front gets here. With light ice and snow amounts expected, the only problems I foresee at this point are to roadways. Travel could be a nightmare by Sunday morning, so keep that in mind.

In summary, my confidence in rain on Thursday (and all rain, at that) is very high. My confidence in heavy rainfall on Saturday is also very high. As always, snow and ice amounts behind the cold front late Saturday night and Sunday are tricky and will have to be fine-tuned as we get closer to the weekend.

Records

On this day in 1978 the high temperature in Nashville only made it to 28 degrees. This would be the seventh straight day in which temperatures remained below freezing, which tied a record for consecutive days below freezing. In this seven day time period, temperatures stayed between seven and 31 degrees.

A small, intense storm system off the coast of North Carolina produced a swath of heavy snow along the coastline. Wilmington, NC picked up five inches of snow! This was the third highest snowfall total in a storm in January in 117 years of records. I bet those kids were making snowmen! Heck, I would have been too! (ha)

Almanac

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Record high: 64 (2017)

Record low: -1 (1972)

Sunrise tomorrow: 6:49

Sunset today: 4:50

Today’s Day Length: 10 hrs 0 mins 31 secs

Tomorrow’s Day Length: 10 hrs 01 mins 50 secs

One Year Ago Today

The high temperature climbed to 43 degrees, after a morning start of 22 degrees.  It was a dry day, with a breeze. That breeze would gust to 24 mph during the early afternoon. Skies began cloudy but turned fair by mid-morning. They would stay that way the remainder of the day.

Astronomy (NEW SECTION, by request!)

Sky viewing quality tonight: GOOD to EXCELLENT (categories will be bad, good, excellent)

Moon: waxing gibbous.

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Asteroid “433 Eros” makes its closest approach to earth today since 2012. Calm down! It’s still 19 million miles away. After being visited by a space probe (NEAR Shoemaker) in 1998, Eros became the first asteroid ever studied from orbit. You can see it through a small telescope. Eros won’t be this close and bright again until 2056.

Look for Eros as soon as the sun sets. It will be 40 deg off the northeastern horizon. It will reach its highest peak above the northern horizon (22:23, 65 deg) around midnight.

January is mostly devoid of any bright planets to see before midnight.

The big event of the coming week is the total lunar eclipse Sunday night. Hopefully, we can get some clear skies and good viewing conditions. Stay tuned!

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News

A year ago today I shared this post on my personal Facebook page. I was just a day away from something absolutely incredible.

“Who can forget the launch of GOES-R? We now know it as GOES-16. Few people were ever able to get any closer to the satellite than the launch pad. Now, we have GOES-S, which will become GOES-17. It now sits in a germ-free room here at Titusville, FL, near the Kennedy Space Center. Of the few people ever given permission to be in the same room as GOES, I am one of them tomorrow! NASA chose 20 members of the media to attend media day, and I am humbled to have been chosen as one of those! I will be one of few people in the world who have had the honor of being in the same room as GOES-S!

If you ever wondered why the launches are from Cape Canaveral I can give you some answers. Rockets traveling eastward gain momentum from earth’s spin. Shooting them from the West Coast would send them over populated areas, but from Cape Canaveral they just go over open ocean waters. Also, the rate of spin for rockets is highest near the equator, and Cape Canaveral is one of the southern-most desirable locations that rockets can be fired in the US. The first rockets were fired from White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico, but increasing rocket range forced the search for a new firing location. Cape Canaveral proved a very desirable location for this.

Please follow me through this week as I share more and more information from this incredible journey I am on to learn all about the incredible GOES satellites!”

As you know, I have been invited by NASA to see the launch of DEMO-1, the test launch that will precede the manned launch this summer that will take astronauts to the International Space Station. However, the launch is on hold until the government shutdown ends. I was supposed to fly out today and be there for the launch Thursday. Let’s hope for a shutdown that ends sooner than later! I’m ready to get back to that launch pad!

 

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