December has begun warmly -- with a record Dec. 2 high of 72 in Roanoke on Thursday -- and there is every reason to believe, looking at the large-scale pattern, that much of the first half to two-thirds of the month will average above normal in temperature across most of the central and eastern United States, including our backyard.
But this week we have a brief spurt of colder weather, near to perhaps slightly below normal, 30s and 40s temperatures for a few days behind a cold front on this Monday that might squeeze out a few weak rain showers.
This colder air will coincide with the approach of a low-pressure system late Tuesday into Wednesday. This system offers the best chance at widespread rainfall in almost a month, but it's still quite iffy on several factors. It's not a sure thing we'll see much in the way of much-needed rainfall, possibly just showers.
What's more, because it is moving into air that may be near or slightly above the freezing mark at the surface, there is the chance that at least some snow, sleet or freezing rain could occur near the onset of the precipitation late Tuesday or early Wednesday. This does not at this time look likely to provide significant amounts of ice or snow, but there could be some falling for a while. Chances for seeing wintry precipitation and for accumulating some will increase with elevation and to the north and west of Roanoke -- it could well end up a few inches of snow in higher country of West Virginia, maybe into Northern Virginia.
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If the Roanoke and New River valleys do see some bouncy ice pellets or a few wet snowflakes, it will just be a reminder that it is winter, and that it can still turn quite wintry even though mild to warm temperatures may dominate over the next week or two after this quick cooldown.