The Tennessee Valley is in for a cold spell this week, and it'll probably last into next week.
A frontal boundary is expected to reach the area late Tuesday, bringing widespread showers and wind. But the cold air won't hit until early Wednesday, with highs in the 40s and then mid-30s to 40s for the following days.
"Once [the front] moves through, we're going to have a lot of the air from the north filtering in," Jessica Winton, National Weather Service meteorologist said.
Lows will dip into the 20s early Thursday and Friday, but little if any snow is expected in lower elevations. Areas in the Smokies and other higher elevations might see some light snow or flurries possibly on Friday night.
"There's a caveat, you know, the timing and possible amounts will probably change," Nick Austin, weekend meteorologist for WRCB said.
By the time the week of Dec. 10 rolls around, however, temperatures will start to gradually warm up.
"We might get back to the 50s by [Dec. 11] for highs," Austin said.
Normally, after a frontal boundary passes through, temperatures get really cold and then quickly start warming up, Winton said.
"This one is going to take a little bit longer to get through that," she said. "Instead of one brief cold day, it'll be three or four."
This is because of a low pressure system lingering over the New England states. It's connected to the cold front that will be coming through the Chattanooga area and is moving counterclockwise, which is propelling colder Canadian air into the southern United States.
"[The low pressure system] is not going to move for a while, so it's not going to allow any warmer air to get in here," Austin said.
Overall, temperatures are forecasted to be at or above normal this winter, but there will likely be more cold bursts, Winton said.
"[Temperatures are] averaged over December, January and February," she said. "So within that, you're going to have weeks like we're about to have, where you have the colder air coming in. Then it's going to warm back up for a couple of weeks."
During cold spells like the one that is visiting the area this week, Austin said people can best prepare by leaving faucets on a slow drip, opening cabinets under sinks so warmer air can circulate around plumbing and bringing pets indoors. He also said to keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that could catch fire, such as bedding, curtains or baskets of laundry.
Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.