Thursday 10 a.m.
The upper-air feature that has been pumping warm, moist air northward through the Eastern states is getting kicked northeastward by a wider trough that is taking shape farther west. The latter feature is sponsoring the southward push of colder air. Near the core of the cold air mass, temperatures dropped as low as the teens in parts of Montana. A few places had their coldest morning since last winter. In eastern North Dakota, Fargo was hit by gale-force, icy wind gusts carrying the first snow of the season.
The main thrust of the cold air will be across the upper Great Lakes and Ontario, but the leading edge of the change to cooler weather has already reached northern Texas. At Amarillo, it was 64 degrees at midnight with the wind out of south. At 8 a.m. CDT, it was 49 with a north wind gusting past 40 mph! The change to chilly will not be as dramatic when it reaches the East Coast, but it will certainly be noticed. Temperatures will be well up in the 70s in Boston tomorrow... and near 80 degrees in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. On Sunday, temperatures in those cities will be in the 40s and 50s.
This morning's NMM-WRF run shows the band of rain associated with the leading edge of the change to colder weather crossing the Appalachians by midday Saturday. The rain shown on the map is the predicted amount from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. EDT.
In the six-hour period after this (2 p.m. until 8 p.m. EDT), the rain band almost totally vanishes. I interpret the maps as suggesting I may not actually need the rain jacket that I will carry along anyway to the Penn State - Northwestern game on Saturday. I always carry the jacket in my golf bag so that if it does happen to rain, it looks like I predicted it all along!
A storm that has brought hardship and danger to parts of Texas and Arkansas with an assortment of ice and snow will send a swath of snow northeastward today and tonight. Here is a map showing our overall estimates as of 10 a.m. ET:
That could lead to tough travel at the end of the weekend. This map for Sunday at 7 p.m. ET shows where those troubles could be (north of the line with the label "snow rain line.")
This table shows the ensemble means for the next two weeks at Philadelphia: It suggests that whereas it does turn cold, any snowfall looks quite limited.
It is too early to be confident about any forecast for Christmas Day (or even the week before). However, the GFS model does go out 16 days, and it has a cold look for the Northeast exactly one week before Christmas.
As the flow aloft becomes southwesterly, mild moist air will spread northeastward from the Gulf States. In summer, this creates a hazy, very warm and humid scene for the Northeast. Now though, the warmth is slowly drained away as the moist mild air advances over cold ground. With temperatures near the saturation point, clouds form.
If each one of us lights an inner flame for just one thing- just one aspect of our lives we are thankful for, the warmth we create can light the world on Thanksgiving. The flame of warmth and love can burn so bright that no cold wind on earth can blow it out.