published Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

No white Christmas for Chattanooga this year, but, baby, it's cold outside

Looks like Santa didn't get to wear his tank top last night after all.

With weather that was eerily warm over the weekend -- temperatures reached the low 70s, even in the middle of the night -- it hardly seemed like Christmas was around the corner. And while it's unlikely to snow today, temperatures in the 30s should make it feel a little more like Christmastime.

"No white Christmas this year, sorry," said Nick Austin, a meteorologist at Channel 3.

Instead, Austin predicts it will be sunny today with a high of 46 in downtown Chattanooga, and a high in the low 40s in some of the mountain areas.

Sunday's high of 71 degrees set a record for Dec. 22 and was 20 degrees above the average high. The reason it was so warm, explained Andrew Pritchett of the National Weather Service, was the combination of the high pressure area to the east, the strong winds coming from a storm system to the west, and the warm, moist air that came up from the Gulf of Mexico.

Today's predicted high of 44 degrees is closer to the average Dec. 25 high of 50 degrees. The weather turned so quickly as a cold front entered from the west late Sunday, bringing chilly Canadian air.

As for the rest of the week, weather should be relatively pleasant. The National Weather Service is predicting sunny skies, with highs in the low 50s on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. And Pritchett said that the huge difference between the weather now and last weekend is not as strange as it may seem.

"That's winter for you in the South," Pritchett said. "We can see those types of [really warm] days a couple of times a winter."

Contact Mary Helen Miller at 423-757-6324 or mhmiller@timesfreepress.com.

about Mary Helen Miller...

Mary Helen Miller joined the staff at the Chattanooga Times Free Press as a multimedia reporter in 2013. She produces audio, video, and graphics for the Web, and occasionally writes stories. Before starting at the Times Free Press, Mary Helen worked as a radio reporter at WUTC, the NPR affiliate station in Chattanooga. She won an Edward R. Murrow award for a story she produced there about the anniversary of the 2011 tornadoes that hit ...

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