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For Austin area, a weekend of long sleeves and damp pant cuffs

This weekend, Central Texans will probably be reminded that winter has a downside.

Forecasters expect high temperatures in the 50s and lows in the 40s, with possible scattered thunderstorms and perhaps as much as 3 inches falling in some spots between Friday and Monday. Camp Mabry normally sees about 2.4 inches for the entire month of December.

Stand outside in one place for 12 hours and the odds of getting wet are 60 percent on Friday, 80 percent on Friday night, 90 percent on Saturday, 70 percent on Saturday night and Sunday, and 40 percent on Monday night, according to the National Weather Service forecast Thursday afternoon.

November brought a few cool days and a few rainy days, but never at the same time — until now. Although Friday’s high is expected to be around 64— only a few degrees below normal — temperatures on Saturday and Sunday are supposed to peak at 55 degrees, about 10 degrees cooler than normal for this time of year.

This will probably be the coldest, wettest and (even without another University of Texas loss in football) dreariest weekend in some time. Pant cuffs might be dampened.

“We’re expecting multiple rounds of light to moderate rainfall,” said Jared Allen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Deluges are unlikely, he said, meaning that flash floods are also unlikely, even with several inches of rain possible.

That rain will be the result of a warm front that moves into Texas from the Gulf and stalls south of San Antonio, Allen and University of Texas meteorologist Troy Kimmel said. As the front stalls, unstable air higher in the atmosphere should move into Texas from Mexico. The meteorological mixture of unstable air and moisture is expected to create the rain storms.

“We’ll see a little break in the weather by Tuesday of next week with a mix of clouds and sunshine expected,” Kimmel wrote on his blog.

The rainy weather is probably a fitting start to winter, which began — at least according to the meteorological definition — on Thursday. But most Central Texas forecasters say a warmer and drier than normal winter is probably in the offing.

Surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific are cooler than average, which makes the atmosphere above the Eastern Pacific stable and ultimately tends to push storms well north of the Lone Star State. That, in turn, tends to mean warmer and drier conditions. La Niña, as the weather pattern is known, is basically the bizarro twin of El Niño, the pattern characterized by warming ocean temperatures that made last fall and winter among the wettest periods on record for the Austin metro area.

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