Will it go Round in Circles?

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The eternal hurricane season of 2005 has continued to hang on for dear life the past three or four days in spite of ongoing forecasts from the National Hurricane Center that indicate the reduction of Epsilon to a remnant low. In spite of external factors that point strongly in that direction (significant vertical wind shear and cooling sea surface temperatures), the storm has maintained hurricane status and continues to carry maximum sustained winds of 80 mph today as it turnsd southeastward, with the potential for making at least a partial loop back toward the southwest and maybe west over the next few days. Once again, it is forecast to fall to tropical storm strength in a day or so, and to drop off to a remnant low 2 to 3 days out. We'll see if it can cling to life once again.

More locally, we've had a challenging forecast over the past two to three days, with one of those classic Carolina scenarios that involves enough cold air nearby to be concerned about wintry precipitation, but enough variation among computer model projections regarding the strength, speed and direction of movement of a low pressure wave that the transition area between rather heavy rain and more wintry weather has wavered northwest and southeast to a significant degree. For a while yesterday it appeared we had a pretty good chance right into the Triangle area to see at least some pockets of sleet and snow, and maybe a burst or two enough to whiten the ground. However, later runs have increased the amount of warm air in a layer from around three to eight thousand feet above the ground to the point where it appears any snow or sleet around Raleigh would be unlikely, and confined to a short time frame very late this afternoon or evening if it does manage to occur. By that time, most models indicate drier air invading the region at mid levels of the atmosphere, including the layer where the primary groth of snow crystals is supported, so that even as we turn plenty cold for snow all that may remain is some sprinkles or drizzle, maybe a patch or two of sleet. In addition, accumulations, even a little north and west of the Triangle where a transition is somewhat more likey before drying begins, should be limited in part due to soil temperatures that remain in the mid 40s to around 50, especially in the wake of yesterday's big warmup (68 for a high at RDU).

Regardless of how the brush with wintry weather turns out, we can be happy for another very substantial dose of "anti-drought medicine," in the form of what should total up to be around 1-2 inches of rain for much of the region, the third time in a row we've kicked off a week with a nice widespread moderate to heavy rain on Monday and/or Tuesday.