MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A powerful cold front will sweep through the Carolinas on Sunday and bringing rain followed by plummeting temperatures.
The very latest forecast data continues to point to a dramatic change in the weather by the end of the weekend and early next week. The changes will blast into the Carolinas as a powerful cold front moves through. Behind the cold front, Arctic air straight out of Canada will pour into the Carolinas.
Ahead of the front, temperatures will climb into the lower and middle 60s on Saturday as clouds begin to thicken. A few showers will be possible by late Saturday evening and Saturday night as temperatures hold steady in the lower 60s.
Sunday will be a very changeable day as the front blasts through the Carolinas. Temperatures through the first half of the day will remain in the 60s with cloudy skies and periods of rain at times. A few downpours will be likely along with gusty winds at times. Rainfall amounts will average around a half an inch.
As the strong cold front moves through during the afternoon, temperatures will start to rapidly drop. The fast drop in temperatures will be accompanied by gusty winds as well. Midday temperatures in the lower to middle 60s will plummet through the evening and overnight Sunday night.
By Monday morning, the coldest temperatures so far this winter will be in place with temperatures dropping nearly 40 degrees. Monday morning temperatures will drop into the lower 20s inland and middle 20s across the Grand Strand.
With a gusty wind through Monday morning, wind chills will reach as low as the teens at times.
Despite abundant sunshine, temperatures will be slow to climb Monday afternoon with Arctic air in place. Afternoon high temperatures will only reach the middle and upper 30s. Wind chills will remain in the 20s through the day.
WEEKEND FRONT LIKELY THE FIRST OF SEVERAL STRONG COLD FRONTS
The cold front this weekend will likely be the first of several powerful cold fronts that will likely start a period of below normal temperatures that will last into the early or middle part of February.
The weather pattern so far this winter has featured back and forth temperatures. That pattern is gradually undergoing changes that will start to favor more frequent shots of very cold weather into the central and eastern portions of the United States. If the evolving weather pattern develops just right, bouts of bitter cold weather could overspread the region by late January or early February.
The changes in the developing weather pattern are now underway across northern and central Canada where bitter cold Arctic air is beginning to gather. Temperatures in these areas are currently as cold as 30 to 40 degrees below zero. Over the coming days, this bitter cold air will gradually start to ooze south and cross the border into the northern US by the middle and end of the week. A developing storm system will help to tap into the cold air by the weekend and whip it across the eastern US by late this weekend or early next week. A dramatic drop in temperatures will arrive across the Carolinas on Sunday.
Unlike the pattern we’ve seen so far this winter, repeated shots of cold, Arctic air will likely follow the initial blast this weekend. This will likely lead to a prolonged stretch of colder than normal temperatures that may linger into early or even middle February. If the colder pattern aligns itself just right, not just cold, but frigid air would be allowed to spill into the Carolinas. The more frigid pattern could potentially lead to nighttime temperatures in the teens and lower 20s and daytime temperatures that may not get out of the 30s.
It is still too soon to determine just how cold the temperatures may turn during this upcoming weather pattern. Details will gradually become more clear over the course of this week, but the overall theme is for much colder weather to develop through the heart of winter.
DOES BITTER COLD AUTOMATICALLY MEAN A SNOW AND ICE THREAT?
The weather pattern needed to get snow and ice in the Carolinas is difficult to predict just hours in advance, much less days or weeks in advance, but bitter cold air is always necessary.
With a cold weather pattern developing and the potential for Arctic air to settle across the Carolinas, the main ingredient for wintry precipitation will be in place - COLD AIR.
The set up for significant amounts of snow and ice across the coastal Carolinas features a storm system that develops in the Gulf of Mexico - moves east across Florida - and then passes well off shore of the Carolina coastline. As simple as the pattern seems, it’s like threading a needle. If the storm system moves too close to the coast, temperatures warm considerably and the region is left with just rain. If the push of cold weather is too strong, the system is pushed too far south and the area is left with just cold and dry weather.
Even the coldest weather patterns can also feature brief warm ups that result in rain.
At this point, there are no potential storm systems that indicate a chance of snow or ice across our area through next week.
We’ll continue to fine tune the forecast details of the coming cold over the next few days and weeks. Bottom line: Winter is far from over, and may in fact just really be getting started.