Relief from the bitter cold, but more harsh winter weather in th - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Relief from the bitter cold, but more harsh winter weather in the forecast!

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On behalf of the entire Early Warning Forecast Team, We want to wish everyone a safe and Happy New Year!  This deep freeze that we are in has now lasted more than a week.  It began in the late afternoon on Christmas Day and temperatures have been well below freezing since.  Highs yesterday were only in the teens despite full sunshine.  Yesterday morning, the mercury dipped to 2 degrees in Bridgeport.  That was a new record low for January 1st!  The previous record was 5 degrees, set in 1963.  Bridgeport also had a record for the coldest high temperature for January 1st.  The high yesterday afternoon was 18 degrees.  The previous record was 21 degrees, also set in 1963.

Yesterday's bitterly cold weather did not break any records in the Greater Hartford Area.  The mercury dipped to -5 in Windsor Locks, but the record was -8 set on January 1st in 1918.  The record for the coldest high temperature for January 1st is 7 degrees, also set in 1918.  Yesterday's high was 13 degrees.


It was the deep freeze during the last week of the month that really lowered the average temperature to levels far below normal.  The average temperature at Bradley International Airport was 27.5 degrees, which is 4.1 degrees below normal!  Total precipitation was 2.41”, which is 1.03” below normal.  This includes rain, plus the water equivalent of snow and ice.  However, snowfall was above normal by 2.4”.  The grand total was 9.8”.  The snowiest December on record was in 1945, when 45.3” of snow was measured in Hartford.


It is a bright sunny day out there!  Yes, i know it's cold, but it's better than yesterday!  And the winds aren't that strong today, so that helps to make it feel a bit better.  We have some news to share with you.  Right around noon, the National Weather Service out of Upton, NY issued a Winter Storm Watch for New London Counties and the southern portion of Middlesex County here in CT.  It's been issued from tomorrow night through Thursday evening.  We've issued a Weather Alert for this time period.   


The core of the cold air is making an exit today and that means we're doing a little bit better out there today, some relief from the extreme cold today and tomorrow.  Temperatures are expected to reach 17-25 today under a mostly sunny sky.  There will be a cold breeze, but it won’t be too strong.  By tomorrow, we’ll have a shot at 32 degrees, at least for some.  It's our only chance to reach the freezing mark until early next week!  That means this deep freeze could last 2 weeks.  We are forecasting a high of 30 degrees for the Greater Hartford Area and a high of 32 degrees for shoreline communities.   It’ll be a quiet day with partly to mostly sunny skies and not too much in the way of wind.


At this point, it looks like Connecticut will be on the northwestern fringe of a huge ocean storm late tomorrow night and Thursday.  However, the exact track will greatly depend on how 2 impulses of energy aloft eventually phase.  One impulse is to our west this afternoon.  The other is still over Western Canada. The models have shown a more westerly track over the course of the last 12 hours and that means more snow for Connecticut. Yes, even though we're going to be on the fringe of this storm, it will become so large that snow will extend westward across most, if not all, of Connecticut.   This is something we’ll have to watch closely.  While a light to moderate snowfall appears the most likely scenario for now, a heavy snowfall can’t be ruled out if the storm track shifts ever further westward and closer to the coast.  Some of latest model guidance is showing that parts of CT, southeast and northeast portions of the state could get 6 or more inches of snow, we'll keep you posted.  This storm will also be capable of producing strong, and perhaps damaging winds, especially in eastern portions of Southern New England.  Gusts in Connecticut could reach 40 mph or higher.  Combine that with temperatures mostly in the 20s and it will be a very cold day.


As the storm departs, another shot of bitterly cold air will arrive for the end of the week and the start of the weekend.  Friday will be mostly sunny, but highs will only be in the single digits and teens.  The wind chill will plunge well below zero once again.  The actual air temperature is expected to dip below zero Friday night.  Saturday won’t be any better.  In fact, it could be even colder by several degrees despite a full supply of sunshine.  Highs will only be in the single digits and lower teens and it’ll be another day of gusty winds.  Between Friday and Saturday, the wind chill is expected to drop to -10 to -30.  Wind chill advisories and wind chill warnings will likely be issued for that time period. 


Sunday will be a fair, cold day with mostly sunny skies and highs in the teens and lower 20s.  A weak disturbance could bring a light snowfall on Monday.  However, there is a good chance we’ll get a break from the sub-freezing cold with highs in the low and middle 30s expected.


The last time the temperature remained BELOW freezing for a week or more was in February of 2014.  That deep freeze lasted 9 days.  The longest deep freeze on record lasted 19 days and that was in December 1989!  That was the coldest December on record with an average temperature of 18.1 degrees!

It is also interesting to note there was a stretch of 10 consecutive days from January 19th through January 28th in 1961 when the high temperature was 20 degrees or lower in Windsor Locks.  There was also a 7 day stretch from December 29, 1917 to January 4, 1918 where the high temperature remained BELOW 20 degrees in the Greater Hartford Area.

Our current deep freeze began in the late afternoon on Christmas Day.  The temperature has now remained below freezing for more than a week.  If our current forecast holds true, the deep freeze could last 2 weeks, perhaps even longer!

Chief Meteorologist  Bruce DePrest with Scot Haney

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