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Our weather roller coaster due to resume

Enjoy that unseasonably mellow December air while you can. Forecasters say we’re going back below the freezing mark for the weekend and getting even colder next week.

The first plunge in temperatures is expected to sneak in late tonight while most Western New Yorkers are asleep, gradually turning this evening’s rain into wet snow, with touches of sleet and freezing rain in the Southern Tier.

First, though, we’re due for another day in the mid-50s today, maybe the upper 50s. It won’t be as pleasant as Wednesday, but nice enough for hanging outdoor holiday lights, at least for a while. There’s also likely to be a breeze. Mild air drawn up ahead of the approaching cold front is expected to produce a 15-mph wind from the south.

And instead of sunshine, we’re due for mostly cloudy skies. As this afternoon progresses and the thermometer drops down through the 40s, there’s an increasing probability of showers, scattered showers in the northern sections and more persistent rain in the south. By the time you wake up Friday, chances are that the ground will be white, but because dry air is arriving with the cold front, there shouldn’t be much of an accumulation – less than an inch in most places, a little more than an inch in those snow-prone places south and east of Buffalo.

Scattered snow showers should continue Friday night as another front passes through the area, dropping temperatures into the low to mid-20s, but not dropping much snow. There should be little or no accumulation except where lake-effect clouds develop.

It’s expected to stay in the 20s all day Saturday, even though the sun is supposed to come back out. Skiers should find much to like about Saturday, but it’s likely to put a chill on Pearl Harbor Day observances and other outdoor activities. The long-range outlook promises to send us through another loop of the winter roller coaster. Skies are forecast to start clouding up Sunday as temperatures climb back into the 30s. Sunday night looks like a gantlet of rain, snow and freezing rain, ending up as just plain rain by Monday morning.

Monday should bring temperatures briefly into the 40s again, but with a stiff breeze that foreshadows the next downturn. By Monday night, snow is forecast as frigid air from the Northern Plains is expected to push the thermometer back down into the 20s, ushering in the coldest days and nights of the season so far.