Temperatures may not top freezing until Sunday

Rick Wagner • Jan 3, 2018 at 5:00 PM

KINGSPORT — If you’ve been waiting for a warmer afternoon to take down your outdoor Christmas decorations and didn’t take advantage of the relative warmth of Wednesday afternoon (although temperatures were still below freezing), you’ll have to wait until Sunday.

However, don’t wait too long Sunday because some snow flurries, freezing rain and rain are coming, and road conditions could be dicey Monday morning.

The National Weather Service forecast for the 37660 zip code area of Kingsport indicates that the next appearance of above-freezing temperatures won’t occur until Sunday, when the high is predicted to be 41.

Just how cold has it been?

Derek Eisentrout, a meteorologist with the NWS office in Morristown, said that temperatures in the Tri-Cities, as measured at Tri-Cities Airport, haven’t been in the 40s since Friday, when the temperature was 41. The last above-freezing temperature was 35 on Saturday.

“This arctic air mass has been giving us ... temperatures” of 10 to 20 degrees below normal for this time of year, Eisentrout said.

On Tuesday, the Tri-Cities hit a record low of 3 degrees, breaking the old low of 9 on that date in 1979. That also was the lowest temperature of the winter season to date, Eisentrout said. On Wednesday, he said, the low was 8, reached at 1:42 a.m.

What does the immediate weather future hold?

The Wednesday afternoon forecast called for a high of 22 Thursday and a low of 8; a high again of 22 Friday and a low of 6; and a high of 25 Saturday and a low of 11. Sunday’s high is expected to be 41 under partly sunny skies, with a slight chance of rain and snow before 9 p.m.; a slight chance of rain between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.; and a chance of freezing rain after 1 a.m. and a low of 29. The chance of precipitation is 40 percent.

For Monday, the forecast is a 70 percent chance of rain or freezing rain with a high of 46, followed by a low of about 32 Monday night and a 50 percent chance of rain and snow showers. Tuesday’s forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of rain and snow showers and a high of 41.

“You could have some issues with transportation, especially Monday morning,” Eisentrout said. “The ground will be colder than the air, meaning precipitation likely will stick and freeze in place.”

Eisentrout said warmth and moisture will come from a low pressure system heading from the West to the Tri-Cities, not the arctic blast projected to hit the East Coast this weekend. The middle of the country and East Coast have been battered with arctic temperatures since late December.

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