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Wintry turn

Winter arrives next week, and not just astronomically.

Perhaps forgotten after five consecutive days of gloom, December 2012 is off to an amazingly mild start, despite the lack of a single clear day.

Through yesterday, Philadelphia's official temperature was better than 7 degrees above normal for the month, outpacing even the balmy December of last year.

All indications are, however, that December 2012 will depart from its predecessor more radically next week.

The American Weather Forums chat board is stirring with talk about a storm threat, but this far out we will put that in the category of recreational speculation.

On somewhat firmer grounds, we note that the Climate Prediction Center has the East out of the above-normal zone in both the 6-to-10 and 8-to-14 day outlooks.

It notes that the forecast upper-air pattern centered on Dec. 22 -- that would be the first full day of the meteorological winter -- bears similarities to some quite cold days in the period of record.

Intriguingly, two of the those cold says were Dec. 16 and Dec. 21, 2010, and third was Dec. 26, 2010, the day of the so-called Boxing Day snowstorm.

In its morning discussion, the Commodity Weather Group, in Washington, said that midweek storm holds out at least potential for "significant snow" along the East Coast. And CWG sees "a stormy and chaotic" last 10 days of the month.

On it's site this morning, Accu-Weather is advertising a "colder, snowy pattern" as the southern branch of the west-to-east upper-air jet stream becomes more energized.

Regardless of what materializes, we are seeing one of the first laws of Philadelphia winters at work: What might happen is almost always more interesting than what is happening.

And a cynic, or even a skeptic, might opine, Well, what do you expect, it's winter?

What we learned last winter is that in some years, winters just never comes.