The Outlook: Mild week might precede stormy weekend

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"There are three reasons for becoming a writer:

the first is that you need the money;

the second that you have something to say that you think the world should know;

the third is that you can't think what to do with the long winter evenings." — Quentin Crisp

And the beat goes on: Only brief stretches of below-average cold, with 21 out of 26 days this month above normal — including a dozen of extreme warmth for January — and only 5 inches of snow so far, compared to 18 inches on average for the full month. For the winter weather season, now at the halfway point, our 29-inch total (half of it during the first several days of December) is 25 percent below average.

It's far too early to close the books on the winter of 2019-20. As you might remember, just two years ago, we had a combined three-month snow avalanche of 70 inches from February through April, including a whopper of 42 inches in March alone.

The work and school week ahead is once again tranquil, mostly snow-free and milder than usual. Skies start out mostly cloudy, with just in-and-out peeks for Tuesday of the slowly strengthening sun, whose longer visitations are especially welcome in the late afternoon, with early mornings starting to brighten up as well.

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We should see deep-blue skies and plenty of sunlight Wednesday through Friday, but next weekend shapes up as the sixth in a row with a potential winter storm. Underline potential, because these have tended to fizzle out. The Sunday afternoon computer models are a mess — "on and off again with the storm, so lots of uncertainty at this time," according to the Sunday afternoon forecast team at the National Weather Service in Albany.

With admirable candor, the government forecasters acknowledge that "we have been on a seven-day cycle with our storms on the weekends so odds are we'll see another storm next weekend. Track, rainfall/snowfall amounts are anybody's guess at this time." Or to put it another way, check back later in the week.

AccuWeather is cautious as well — senior meteorologist Brett Anderson points out that "the track of the storm is highly prone to shifting in the coming days, and the exact track will be a huge factor in how intense the storm will be for a given location." Candid, yes, and obvious.

If you're hoping that the lack of intense, prolonged cold may mean an early spring, Accu's long-range specialist Paul Pastelok says "it will be a rather slow transition to spring in March for the Northeast, with lingering snow and chilly air."

But for the immediate future, it's a safe bet that Monday will be mostly cloudy, maybe a snow shower here and there, highs near 40, lows in the mid-20s. We get partial sun on Tuesday, but slightly colder, maybe 35, down to 20 overnight into Wednesday. Then, a rarity for January, three straight days of mostly sunny skies, with highs 30 to 35 and predawn lows in the teens — typically par for the course at the end of January.

For Groundhog Weekend (yes, next Sunday the woodchuck rodent gets his day in the spotlight), rather than go out on a limb, let's just say: Keep an eye on the sky.

The Outlook is Monday's look ahead at the week's weather, its impact on the Berkshires and more. Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com.


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