Warmup on the way, but ice and snow may be close behind

News-DemocratJanuary 27, 2014 

The weather pattern that has caused extremely gusty winds and frigid temperatures for the past few weeks looks like it will finally break up, but more ice and snow may be on the way, according to the National Weather Service's senior forecaster in St. Louis.

While the mercury will move away from temperatures in the teens and single digits, Scott Truett said there is a greater chance for more precipitation in the coming weeks.

"As we look ahead, there is a fundamental pattern shift of the circulation, Truett said. "Up to now, the flow has gone from the northern plains to the great lakes region. It's changing now so that much more of the energy will translate into the western part of the country. In general, we will be in a slow warming trend and a more normal seasonal weather pattern. What we're transitioning to also looks wetter. We'll be in an area where more moisture will be available in the path of upper level energy."

Truett said the outgoing pattern, which injected huge doses of extremely cold air to the area, is responsible for the high winds that downed trees and power lines in the metro-east from Fairview Heights to Millstadt.

"In a broad sense, the greater the difference in temperature between two colliding air masses, the greater the wind speed will be," Truett said.

According to National Weather Service figures, a gust of 47 mph was recorded at 9:39 p.m. Sunday at Scott Air Force Base and a gust of 46 was record at 9:32 p.m. at Cahokia as a cold front collided with warm air that brought a near-record high temperature of 60 to the area Monday afternoon.

The high winds caused damage in the Ogles subdivision in western Belleville.

Amanda Votrian said she was sitting in her house at the corner of Werner and Oliver Lee drives when there was a flash she could see through the blinds.

'It was a blue and green light," Votrian said. "I opened up the blinds to see it flash again and then the fire went down the line and caught the grass and brush on fire."

Neighbors sprayed the flames with their hoses and another used a shovel to try to put out the blaze before the fire department could get there to make sure it was extinguished.

There were also reports of trees down along 17th Street on the border between Belleville and Swansea and in the Stone Wolf subdivision in Fairview Heights.

According to Ameren, at one time more than 2,500 residences in the area were without power around 10 p.m. Monday. All but a few of customers were back in service.

The high temperature Tuesday will be 17 with an evening low of 7. On Wednesday, the mercury will hit a high of 32 and a low of 22.

No precipitation is expected this week until Friday, when the extended forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of rain or snow.

The high of 60 on Sunday was just shy of the all-time record high of 63 degrees for Jan. 26 in the St. Louis area set in 2005. A cold weather system out of Canada pushed by 50 mph winds put an end to the unseasonably warm weather.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or call 239-2626.

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