BY O.J. EARLY
That thick winter coat won't be needed for at least the next several days. But hang on to the rain jacket.
The National Weather Service is forecasting at least a chance of rain for the next eight days, with the greatest possibility coming Friday, Monday and Tuesday.
Unseasonably warm temperatures are also in the forecast from today through the middle of next week.
Single-day heat records are poised to be broken both Saturday and Sunday, with highs expected to reach the lower 70s.
In short: If your heart longs for a cold and snowy winter, then you probably won't like the next week -- or maybe the rest of the winter season -- very much.
"We are talking 20 to 25 degrees above normal," said Terry Getz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Morristown, about this weekend's potential temperatures.
Normal highs this time of year in Northeast Tennessee hover in the mid-40s, Getz said. That's what makes the forecast for this weekend so different, he noted.
"It is unusually warm," Getz said, explaining that a low-pressure system in the South is helping push shots of warm air from the Gulf of Mexico toward East Tennessee.
"Lows at night are going to be primarily in the 40s to lower 50s. Our overnight lows are pretty much warmer than the normal daytime highs are."
For the Tri-Cities area, Saturday's record high temperature stands at 69, set in 2005, Getz said.
As of Thursday morning, the National Weather Service was predicting a high of 70 for this Saturday.
Sunday's record is 72, set in 1972, and the forecasted high for this Sunday is 72, Getz said.
While this winter has been considerably warmer than most winters, Getz said, January's above-average temperatures are to be expected given December's higher-than-normal temperatures.
"The pattern has been mild," Getz said. "The month of December was warm. The fact that we are still warm in January is not that unusual because the pattern has been for it to be warmer than normal."
According to analysis from the National Weather Service in Morristown, 2012 tied 1990 as the warmest year on record in the Tri-Cities area.
Knoxville also had an exceptionally warm year, with 2012 tying 1933 as the warmest year on record.
According to Getz, East Tennessee's mild winter will likely continue.
"Temperatures over our area are going to be pretty much close to the above-normal," Getz said Wednesday afternoon, examining temperature projections from now through late January.
"With temperatures above normal, that means you are primarily talking at least 50s for highs and then 30s for lows."
Higher-than-normal winter temperatures also mean a decreased chance of snow.
"At least through mid-to-late January it doesn't look like we are going to get any [snow]," the meteorologist said, based on weather models at his Morristown office.
"The rest of the season ... temperatures are going to be above normal right into February."