By MARY RAINWATER
If you haven't taken those long johns or heavy sweaters out of storage, now would be the time to do so, as a massive cold front is making its way through the area today and will leave behind the coldest temperatures of the season so far.
According to Jason Dunn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, Palestine will “miss the worst of it,” referring to the massive front moving through parts of Texas.
“Rains will begin moving through your area (Thursday) night, and temperatures won't fall below freezing for a while,” he explained. “There is a small chance of frozen precipitation Friday, from mid-day through the evening.”
Large amount of ice accumulations are not expected, unless there are heavier-than-predicted rains or standing water, which will freeze, of course.
“As of right now, it doesn't look like the Palestine area will see much frozen accumulation — maybe on tree branches and grass,” Dunn said. “Drivers should take precautions when traveling on bridges, just in case.”
According to the NWS website, the high temperature today will be 58 degrees with the temperature dropping all day to a low of 32 tonight. Chances of rain are 70 percent.
Friday's high is set to reach a near-freezing 34 degrees with a low of 25 on Friday night. Saturday's high and low temperatures are expected to dip to 26 and 30 degrees, respectively. Sunday's high is expected to reach 38 degrees, with a low of 25 on Sunday night.
Chances of rain are at 70 percent Friday, decreasing to a 30 percent chance in the evening. A 50 percent chance of wintry mix (freezing rain, sleet and snow) is predicted for Saturday and Sunday, decreasing to 25 percent by Sunday evening.
The frozen precipitation could put a damper on the City of Palestine's Christmas season kick-off, which begins Friday night and continues Saturday with Frost Fest, the Christmas parade, Christmas tree lighting and more. Officials are monitoring the weather situation and will announce any changes as needed.
According to Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University's Department of Atmospheric Sciences, freezing rain is rain that freezes when it comes into contact with other surfaces, such as pavement or cars, while sleet falls to the ground already frozen.
“Freezing rain forms when warm, moist air moves over cold air near the surface,” McRoberts explained. “Freezing rain is very dangerous because it tends to coat roads with ice first. If the surface it hits is 32 degrees or lower, it will quickly freeze on contact, and if the ice accumulates, it can shut down an entire city very quickly.
“Sleet is often confused with freezing rain,” he said. “Sleet falls as ice pellets that make a familiar crackle sound as they hit the ground, trees or cars.”
The precipitation is expected to leave the area by Monday, but cooler temperatures will remain in the area through at least Wednesday, reaching a high of 42 on Wednesday and a low of 22 on Monday night.
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org