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Downpours, Strong Winds Expected For AM Commute

By Terry Eliasen, Meteorologist, WBZ-TV Exec. Weather Producer
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BOSTON (CBS) – If you just woke out of a long hibernation you might think that you overslept.

Today has the look and feel of an early spring day in New England.  The little bit of snow on the ground is getting devoured by milder air, as evidence by the dense fog everywhere.

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Temperatures are already rising into the 50’s and many towns may nick 60 before the day is done.  A quick peek at the radar shows one heck of a squall line of thunderstorms barreling through the Midwest, leading to several tornado watches and warnings from the deep South to the Ohio Valley.

This is January?

We are in for one heck of a ride in the next 24-48 hours, the classic New England-style roller coaster complete with warnings signs and all.

So here’s what you can expect:

This afternoon will be all about the warm air.  It has already made inroads along the coastline and eventually it will work to scour out every last bit of cold air in each and every valley, nook and cranny of southern New England.

It will take the longest in places like southern New Hampshire and far northern and western Massachusetts. The warm comes in at upper levels of the atmosphere first and works its way down to the surface.  This process is sped up when you introduce some winds, which help to scour out the stubborn cold spots and mix up the atmosphere.

By this evening, just about all of southern New England should be in the 50’s and many towns may make a run at 60.

It would be just the second time this winter (January 14) that most of us saw 60 on the thermometer and there is an outside shot at a record in Boston (it currently stands at 63, set back in 1914).

There will be some scattered showers this afternoon and evening and the winds will become somewhat gusty, but the main event will hold off until around dawn on Thursday morning.

Temperatures will hold nearly steady all night and high temps for Thursday will likely occur just after midnight, 50+ in the early hours of Thursday morning on the last day of January.  Incredible!

Then, around dawn, the main line of showers with some embedded thunderstorms, the same line wreaking havoc in the Midwest, will arrive.

No tornado concerns here, but this squall line of sorts will still pack a punch.

Between 6-9 a.m. on Thursday, heavy downpours will drag down some very strong winds from a few thousand feet above the ground.

Thursday morning commuters will likely experience wind gusts in the range of 25-50 mph with the potential for gusts to 60 along the South Coast and over southeastern Massachusetts.

This will be plenty strong enough to produce scattered tree damage and power outages and will certainly work to slow down the commute significantly.

Rain will taper off after 9 a.m. and the sun will make an appearance around lunchtime.

Winds will remain gusty through Thursday afternoon but not nearly as strong and damaging as the early morning.

By afternoon gusts will “relax” to about 20-40 mph and continue to decrease Thursday evening.

At the same time, temperatures will be in free-fall mode, dropping through the 40’s in the afternoon and below freezing by midnight, bringing a flash freeze over the entire region.

From there, we stay cold through the weekend, with a few “Clipper” systems on Sunday and again early next week, bringing chances of light snow to start the month of February.

So buckle your seat belts and enjoy the ride!

You can follow Terry on Twitter at @TerryWBZ.

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