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LI weather: Unseasonably cold temps arrive on weekend

News 12 Long Island meteorologist Rich Hoffman said

News 12 Long Island meteorologist Rich Hoffman said early morning temperatures on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, will give way to milder weather, which carries into Thursday and Friday. Photo Credit: News 12

Who’s up for a polar cold front, bringing freezing temperatures, a slight chance of snow showers and strong, gusty winds starting on the weekend — then followed by more cold into the first half of next week?

Like it or not, the front is aiming to usher in “unseasonably cold air,” with strong gusts of 50 to 60 mph possible overnight Saturday into Sunday morning, the National Weather Service said. Those are the kinds of gusts that can cause damage and result in power outages, the service said in a hazardous weather outlook.

Overnight Saturday into Sunday morning is expected to see lows in the mid-30s, with a 30 percent chance of a brief rain/snow shower mix in the early hours of Sunday, said Jay Engle, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Upton, in a late Wednesday afternoon forecast.

Sunday’s expected highs in the low- to mid-40s will feel more like the 30s, with the wind chill, Engle said, and will be quite a comedown from Thursday’s and Friday’s forecast highs in the low- and mid-60s, respectively.

What’s more, with temperatures overnight Sunday likely to drop well below freezing, like in the mid- to high 20s for Suffolk and nearer to 30 degrees for Nassau, “sensitive vegetation” if left outdoors, may not survive the blast of cold, the weather service said.

Monday is looking at possible highs in the low 40s on Long Island, with the city just a couple of degrees warmer.

Cold is expected through the middle of the week, when temperatures turn more seasonable, Engle said.

It may seem like an oddity to have freezing cold temperatures in April, along with the possibility of snow, given March’s average temperature that so far is a little more than 6 degrees above normal, plus that record warm winter.

But, Jessica Spaccio, climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center, based at Cornell University, reminds us that April can see its share of cold. The month averages three days at freezing or below, based on data that has been maintained for Long Island MacArthur airport since 1984. In fact, the Long Island MacArthur Airport’s latest final freeze of the spring was May 1, 2008, which saw 32 degrees on the nose.

“It’s been such a mild winter and March has been springlike . . . that this cold weather seems out of place now,” Spaccio said, “but in fact, freezing temperatures are not atypical for April.”

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