If only temperatures were 40 degrees cooler, the metro-east would have a very white Christmas.
But, instead, 3 to 6 inches of precipitation expected over the next several days will come down as a soaking rain. Well, maybe there will be a little bit of hail.
“We’ve got a very strong southerly flow bringing up that warm, Gulf of Mexico air,” National Weather Service meteorologist Wes Browning said. “There have been several feet of snow in parts of Utah and Colorado. But we’re on the other side of the weather system and it has left us with temperatures well above normal.
“On Wednesday morning we had temperatures in St. Louis of 60 degrees at dawn,” Browning said. “Usually, at this time of year, the lows are in the 20s.”
The warmer than usual weather spawned waves of thunderstorms that snapped tree branches in Swansea and knocked down power lines in the Mascoutah area.
The record high for Dec. 23 in the St. Louis area, 59, was set in 1988. That’s 28 degrees warmer than the average high of 40 for the date.
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook that warns of the possibility of damaging winds, large hail and the possibility of tornadoes, especially during the afternoon and evening hours. Winds will gust up to 36 mph.
On Christmas Eve, skies will be mostly sunny with a high of 57.
Skies will become mostly cloudy Thursday night when the low will be 38.
It will be mostly cloudy Friday for Christmas Day with a high of 53.
Friday night, a new wave of showers and thunderstorms is expected to arrive in the region with a 50 percent chance of precipitation and a low of 48.
“Heavy rain will intensify late Christmas night and into Saturday,” Browning said. “That’s when flood concerns will start to mount.”
Next week temperatures will be more normal. But Browning said temperatures at or above normal are expected to be the rule throughout the winter.
“This has been the fairly well-predicted result of a near-record setting El Nino” weather pattern, Browning said. “Warmer temperatures than normal are expected throughout the winter with very few, if any, arctic outbreaks because the colder air will be bottled up in Canada.”
There is an 80 percent chance of rain Saturday with a high of 64, and a 70 percent chance of rain Sunday with a high of 47.
Somewhere between 3 to 6 inches of rain is expected Thursday through Tuesday, which could cause flooding issues.
The Mississippi River is expected to quickly rise to 30.4 feet at St. Louis by Sunday, 0.4 feet over the threshold for minor flood stage.
It will be well into minor flood stage at Grafton, where it has already reached 20.52 feet. The threshold there for minor flood stage is 18 feet.