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    High pressure steers winter away

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published December 9, 2001

    The weather was actually supposed to be kind of cool today. That was the forecast earlier in the week, anyway.

    A cold front is on the way, the forecasters kept saying.

    It turns out the cold front probably won't make it. Today should stay warm, almost summerlike. The rest of this upcoming week should stay the same.

    Winter will have to wait.

    "It certainly doesn't feel like the holidays at this point," said Russell Henes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin.

    There is only one reason for this unseasonably warm weather: "a very stubborn high pressure ridge that's been parked over the Southeast for as long as I can remember," Henes said.

    This persistent area of high pressure has been pushing away cold fronts, including the one currently advancing across the southern United States. This particular cold front is expected to stall before it reaches Florida.

    "It looks like it could make it to the Panhandle, but it's not going to advance much farther than that," Henes said.

    Just a few days ago, forecasters were predicting that today's temperatures would never climb above 70. It turns out that the temperature this afternoon should reach about 80 degrees.

    In fact, the forecast through the rest of this week shows afternoon temperatures staying around 80 and nighttime temperatures in the 60s.

    Forecasters predict a 20 percent chance of showers today and Monday, to be followed by drier air and lower humidity by midweek.

    On Saturday, the bay area's official high temperature was 81 and the low was 71. The average high and low for Dec. 8 are 73 and 53 degrees, so Saturday's temperatures averaged out to 13 degrees above normal.

    We're heading into mid December. Will it ever get cold?

    "I wish I knew the answer to that," Henes said. "Not in the near future."

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