Our first genuine arctic outbreak of the winter season appears to be on the way, although there will be a lot happening before it arrives, giving everybody plenty of prep time. Meteorologists have been eyeing a potential pattern shift for some time, but only now are the details starting to come into view.
First we're in for some rain, and it could wind up being a lot, and since we remain in a severe drought a few inches of rain shouldn't create a problem. A storm system originating along the Texas Gulf coast will develop, taking its time to get organized and eventually spreading rain across the Southeast. Beginning Sunday and continuing through Monday we're likely to see periods of rain and cool temperatures. By Monday night and Tuesday, thunderstorms could be possible as the surface low lifts northeast, possibly bringing our area briefly into the warm sector of the system.
Then comes the arctic front on Thursday, and this looks like the coldest air we've seen in a long time. Even though it won't be too out of line for December, keep in mind we've been basking in unusual warmth for the entire fall and it may be a bit of a shock to some! Expect lows to dip well down into the 20s with highs possibly struggling to get above 40º by next Friday. It's almost certain to bring the first hard freeze to this area - Columbus's coldest temperature to date has been only 32º.
The wintry weather will start out west once cold air comes spilling in from western Canada, eventually coming east through the Rockies and gradually taking over almost all of the lower 48, putting an abrupt end to what's been a ridiculously mild autumn season for the country as a whole.
So consider this an early heads-up on the rain, storms, and cold, but it'll be a good week to check in periodically for later forecasts as details will no doubt be tweaked as the week goes on. I'm willing to bet that there will be quite an outbreak of holiday spirit by next weekend!
Meteorologist Kurt Schmitz