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Brutally cold weather headed to the Gulf Coast

Some incredibly cold air is headed to the Gulf Coast for 2018. Plan to start the year with highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s.

It's not all bleak. Sunshine returns to the area ahead of New Year's Eve. Temps will be pleasant considering how the first week of 2018 is shaping up.

You'll feel the cold air flowing into the area during the day on New Year's Eve. Clouds will roll in as well and the rain chance Sunday and Sunday night is around 50 percent.

Since freezing temperatures are forecast for the area by New Year's Day morning, there is some concern for frozen precipitation over parts of the southeast. It appears unlikely for the WEAR-TV area. The Channel 3 First Warning Weather Team will keep you updated.

Here's what the National Weather Service in Mobile, AL said about the winter precipitation chance in the Thursday afternoon area forecast discussion:

Given these cold temperatures, the big question mark in the forecast is how quickly the rain moves out before the temperatures take a nose dive during the evening hours on New Years Eve. Based on recent model trends, we trimmed back the (precipitation chances) across the northwestern portion of the area during the evening of New Years Eve. However, there still appears to be a small window of time in the late evening where the light rain may transition to a wintry mix of light rain and sleet across parts of Wayne County in MS and Choctaw, Clarke and Wilcox Counties in AL. Forecast soundings across northern Choctaw County show the nose of warm air continues to get smaller through this time period, which would indicate the possibility of sleet (assuming there is any lingering precipitation at all). Our confidence in a wintry mix across that area is still LOW as we believe the precipitation will erode quicker than currently modeled (based on model trends). Given the uncertainty in this forecast, we kept the mention of a mix of light rain and sleet in the weather grids for a short period of time. If the models continue to back off on any lingering precipitation, we may be able to take out the mention of this wintry mix in upcoming packages.

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