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Warm today to strong Christmas Eve cold front

Plunging temperatures turns Thursday’s heavy rain into areas of snow and brutally cold wind chills for Christmas Day.
Published: Dec. 23, 2020 at 4:50 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 23, 2020 at 1:14 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - You have one more nice day to take care of that last-minute shopping. By Christmas Eve, a cold front brings in heavy rain the morning. As temperatures slide down, the rain will change over to snow. We look to stay below freezing for nearly two days.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Today is the warmest day of the week! Warmer air is flowing in, with more clouds and wind. Wind speeds increase, with gusts in the afternoon to evening around 20 mph. We’re topping out near 60 degrees today, which is more than 10 degrees above average.

Wind gusts increase to 20 to 30 mph tonight. It becomes rainy area-wide, with heavy rain for all in the morning. Tomorrow’s high is technically from tonight, in the low 50s, as we cool to 50 degrees in the morning. But, this is the start of the WVLT Weather Alert.

LOOKING AHEAD

Rain to snow, dropping temperatures, extended freeze and frigid wind chills.
Rain to snow, dropping temperatures, extended freeze and frigid wind chills.(WVLT)
Snow potential after a change from rain.
Snow potential after a change from rain.(WVLT)

The WVLT Weather Alert is for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We are tracking both the threat of locally heavy rainfall and the advancing cold that will change rain to snow. Accumulating snow is possible, especially across Northeast Tennessee, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Smoky Mountains. The initial change to snow just joins the puddles at first, as it will take some time to cool the ground back down. The alert lasts through Friday, with spotty snow showers, but the biggest issue will be the dangerous wind chills.

Thursday starts out rainy, with overnight high in the 50s. We’ll cool to the mid 40s on average Thursday midday, then mid 30s Thursday afternoon, and then down to 20 by Friday morning. We’ll have widespread rain, collecting an inch of rain area-wide, which can lead to hydroplaning risks and runoff issues. Then the snowfall starts late morning on the Plateau, to the midday along the Tennessee, Kentucky line, then the Valley and Smokies. Scattered snow showers develop throughout the evening to overnight hours, which helps for some to accumulate more snow while others are looking at puddles.

Christmas morning could have patchy ice on roads, with the very cold air allowing roads to cool enough, but especially backroads, bridges, and overpasses could be icy in spots. The Smokies keep the snowfall around Christmas Day.

Christmas Day, make sure to check on pets and loved ones, ensuring they have access to heat. The high is only 28 degrees, feeling like the single digits and teens for most of the day.

We’ll get back above freezing Saturday afternoon, but only to 40 degrees.

Stay tuned to WVLT Weather for the latest on this developing system for the end of the week!

8-day forecast
8-day forecast(WVLT)

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