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2015 gets a sunny, chilly start but temperatures rise this weekend

Summer weather it's not.

But the first weekend of 2015 will be much milder than this time last year, when a winter storm canceled inaugurals, shut down the Long Island Expressway and left a legion of Long Islanders grumbling under more than a foot of snow.

"It was a pretty active winter last year," said John Murray, meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Upton bureau.

By contrast, temperatures on Sunday are expected to reach as high as the mid 50s -- 10 degrees above normal, Murray said.

"That'll be remarkably above normal for this time of year," Murray said.

That's a sharp contrast to last year, when Long Island's temperatures plummeted into the single digits, prompting health authorities to issue advisories on staying safe in the cold.

While this winter so far has been mostly snow-free -- Islip recorded 0.4 inches last month, as opposed to the 5.9 inches of snow it normally sees in December -- the lack of snow doesn't portend anything for the future, he said.

"We're just on the very first day of January now," Murray said. "We can still get snowstorms."

Thursday, the first day of 2015, saw sunny skies with highs in the mid- to upper 30s dropping to the 20s later, he said. An area of low pressure moving through eastern Canada made it breezy, with winds of 15 to 20 mph, and gusts of 35 mph.

But a warming trend begins Friday, with highs in the lower 40s, Murray said. Cloud cover will increase Friday night, clearing out late in the evening, he said. Lows will be in the upper 20s.

Saturday will bring an increasing chance of precipitation, Murray said. While highs will again be in the lower 40s, by the afternoon Long Island will see a 40 percent chance of a rain, snow and sleet mix, transitioning to a 100 percent chance of all rain by Saturday night, he said.

"It's pretty definite -- a pretty high confidence we'll have a rainy Saturday night on Long Island," Murray said.

The chance of rain continues through Sunday, tapering off into the afternoon.

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