For the next several days, the Paducah area can expect a break from the extreme cold it has experienced off and on for the better part of January.
Jim Packett, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Paducah, said Tuesday that cold air from Canada has caused temperatures in the Paducah area to be below normal almost every day for several weeks.
"The good news is, at least for the next 10 days or so, we do expect a slight change in that pattern," Packett said.
He said that forecasting models indicate the flow of cold air will be more westerly or southwesterly, which means temperatures will warm close to what is normal for the area.
Packett also said a system moving through the area Thursday night will bring precipitation in the form of very light snow or freezing rain that is not expected to accumulate. Thursday night's low temperature is expected to be at or below freezing.
"After that, we'll be receiving precipitation right on through Saturday night," Packett said.
He said temperatures will be just warm enough that the weather service expects all that precipitation to remain rain in the Paducah area, except a possibility that the rain could change to snow just before ending Saturday night.
The prediction comes with the caveat, he added, that the half dozen computer models the Paducah office uses to forecast a few days ahead and beyond are in poor agreement. Packett said sometimes the models agree, and sometimes they don't.
"The confidence level is lower than usual," he said of the forecast.
Packett said a small shift in weather currently bringing snow and sleet to the south could bring freezing precipitation to the Paducah area.
Another storm will affect the area Monday night, Packett said, possibly bringing rain or snow. He said the demarcation line will be close to Paducah, and again, the forecast models are in poor agreement.
Packett said a slight change in the forecast could mean significant accumulations of snow or ice.
"We're going to play the middle of the road, but the potential is there," Packett said. "Hopefully it will warm up some, and we won't have to worry about it."
When asked whether extreme low temperatures will return before winter ends, Packett said chances are better than 50 percent.
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Frank Strait said Tuesday that the area will potentially feel more of that cold, Canadian air through mid-February, following a pattern similar to what it saw through most of January: days with frigid temperatures with a few milder days interspersed among them.
"It doesn't look like it will be cold all the time," Strait said, "but when it does get cold, it will be really cold."
Contact Leanne Fuller, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.