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Powerful System to Deliver Storms, Strong Winds and Freezing Temperatures Leading Up to Christmas

National Weather Service
Strong Cold Front to Move in Christmas Eve with a Blast of Cold Arctic Air for Christmas Day

Christmas is just days away and Mother Nature is expected to deliver a blast of winter weather to the Palmetto State beginning Christmas Eve.

An intensifying low pressure system will shift east away from the Cascades and Northern Rockies and cross through the Dakotas Tuesday and Wednesday. This system should move over the Great Lakes Wednesday while dragging a cold air mass southward and pulling a long and powerful cold front.

Wednesday and into Thursday, southerly winds ahead of the cold front will bring above average temperatures to much of the Southeast United States including South Carolina. Temperatures are forecast to remain in the lower 60s across the Midlands on Wednesday before rising into the upper 60s on Christmas Eve. Coastal regions from Charleston and southward could even climb into the lower 70s by Thursday afternoon. Cooler conditions anticipated in the Upstate with highs in the mid to upper 50s through Thursday.

While Wednesday will remain dry and pleasant for most of the region, a pattern chance will take place overnight and through Christmas Eve as the cold front approaches from the west, carving through the state. Fierce winds a few hundred feet above the ground will create an environment of strong wind shear ahead of the approaching cold front. Strong showers and thunderstorms, some of which could be severe, could produce damaging winds and even isolated tornadoes. Flash flooding will also be a possibility, especially towards the Appalachians and for areas that receive an abundant amount of rainfall.

Upon the passage of the cold front, temperatures will rapidly drop overnight Christmas Eve and into Christmas Day. Some remnant precipitation behind the passage of the front could translate to a wintry mix or even snow. However, this will likely only occur in higher elevations in the Upstate.

Once the cold front moves through the region, the jet stream following behind the front will dive southward, encompassing most of the Southeast for Christmas Day. Morning low temperatures are expected to sink into the 20s across the Upstate and Midlands with 30s towards the coast. Afternoon temperatures will remain frigid for Christmas Day with highs ranging from the upper 30s in the west to the lower 40s along the coast. Even colder temperatures will move in overnight Christmas Day and into Saturday with most areas state-wide falling into the 20s.

Mostly clear skies will dominate the Palmetto State for the weekend with temperatures gradually warming as the arctic air from the jet stream shifts eastward into the Atlantic.