The week ahead: After a record-breaking day, turning quiet — and cold

/ December 17, 2023 at 9:23 PM

After a record-breaking — historic is not hyperbole in this case, frankly — day of weather, we’ll turn back to more tranquil — and for a few days, quite cold — conditions as we head into the final shopping week before Christmas.

Monday will feature temperatures generally in the ballpark of normal, but a strong (but dry) cold front will clear the area late Monday into early Tuesday, shifting winds to the northwest and turning on the chill as high pressure builds in from the west. Expect to start Tuesday very near freezing in the metro area, and likely at or below freezing further inland. Despite sunny skies, strong cold advection should keep temperatures below 50° in the afternoon. (Brrr.) A solid freeze looks to set up for Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, with lows in the 20s across much of the area as high pressure settles in overhead. Highs on Wednesday get to about 50-51° or so with a few clouds at most.

After another freeze Thursday morning, high pressure will slip offshore and temperatures will begin to recover into the upper 50s to low 60s to close out the week. We’ll keep an eye on Christmas weekend for our next storm system, but the usual model disagreements are sufficient enough where any confidence in any rain is pretty low.

Recapping a record-breaking day of weather

Today’s storm was an incredibly impactful event, certainly one for the books. We’ve got new rainfall records at Charleston International Airport and Downtown Charleston, but that doesn’t even explain the half of it — some stations up toward McClellanville had over 10″ of rain, including a report of 13.3″ at the Santee Coastal Reserve site! Many stations, particularly east of the Cooper where a band of rain set up and meandered for several hours, recorded over 5″ of rain. We’ll get a full picture on Monday as rainfall observers empty their gauges and submit their measurements.

It was another historic day for coastal flooding, too. The water level in Charleston Harbor reached 9.68′ mean lower low water, which is good for fourth highest on record (records date back to 1921) as well as the highest non-tropical tide recorded in the harbor. The previous record was 8.86′ MLLW, set on January 1, 1987.

Finally, the observed sea level pressure at Charleston International Airport reached 992.1mb around 6PM Sunday as the low made its closest pass. This is a new record low pressure for the month of December. The previous low pressure record was 992.9mb, set on December 1, 1942, according to research by David Roth from the Weather Prediction Center. Many thanks to the staff of NWS Charleston, SC for helping validate this record!

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