What a Day: The birds are chirping a symphony of false hope outside. Just like honey badger, they don't care... they will enjoy the warmth while it lasts. There are certainly warm spells in the middle of winter and today is one of those days. Afternoon temperatures will rise into the low-middle 60s (towns are already in the low 60s) before some spotty rain moves in later this evening. The primary reason we won't go into the upper 60s is because thicker stratus clouds are advancing and will cap off the warming by mid-afternoon. On the flip side, Western NC conditions have been cooler as more cloud-cover has kept temperatures in the 40s with some 50s south of Asheville.
Thursday: A better chance for rain arrives overnight and off/on rain will hang around tomorrow, especially during the second half of the day. Also, a more defined east-northeast will keep a solid deck of clouds and cooler conditions focused directly over our area on Thursday. This will mean temperatures won't make it past the middle 50s for Upstate towns while Western NC towns range from 49°-55° for highs. At face value, this probably doesn't look all that cooler to you, but the cloudy sky and off/on rain will cause a sizeable decrease in comfort (will seem much cooler outside compared to Wednesday).
Friday: Off/on rain will hang around on Friday as will the cool easterly flow and a thick layer of cloud-cover. Temperatures will start out close to 50° for Upstate/NE Georgia towns and only rise into the upper 50s by afternoon. Similarly, Western NC can also expect 50s.
Expansive Warmth Saturday through Tuesday: After a couple of cool, cloudy days on Thursday and Friday, a well-defined southeast ridge (on graphics at right side of page) will step back into the dominating role of driving our weather pattern. 60s and even 70s are likely around here early next week.
Cold Snap - Questionable & To Be Determined: With the expansive nature of this southeastern, warm ridge of high pressure, it's a toss up as to how much cold air will be able to move in here next week (around the 17th-20th of January). A push of colder air is possible, but far more variables will have to fall into place to get sustained cold around here. On the other hand, there are more variables on the warm side of things winning the battle of tug-of-war against the cold side.
While We're Warm, Severe Cold Gripping Russia & China: It's interesting that while we're warm, Europe just experienced it's worst winter in years last winter ('11-'12). News over on that side of the globe indicated as of last year that "Polish Experts Say Europe Having Worst Winter in 1,000 Years." Meanwhile this winter in China has been one for the record books as well. Also, "abnormally low winter temperatures in Russia continue to claim more and more lives. Twenty-one people froze to death in only one day; 147 others were hospitalized with frostbite." - http://english.pravda.ru/hotspots/disasters/19-12-2012/123232-russian_winter-0/ . Finally, this story telling of severe cold broke from China last week: