AUSTIN (KXAN) — A stretch of unseasonably cold temperatures is forecast to begin Friday and last through SXSW Music Festival weekend into early next week. Light precipitation is mainly expected to fall as cold rain, but a few wet snowflakes cannot be ruled out, especially in the Hill Country.

Temperatures this week ramp up through Wednesday as humidity returns ahead of a large storm system. That system is expected to bring the threat of severe thunderstorms late Thursday into early Friday, then a period of dramatically colder temperatures.

Colder weather blows in starting Friday

After the cold front passes through early Friday, temperatures drop into the 50s for the rest of the day and remain very cold for SXSW attendees through the weekend. Temperatures are expected to drop even further early next week, potentially flirting with freezing in colder Hill Country valleys Sunday and Monday mornings. Monday is the first official day of spring, and also the date of the average last freeze in the Hill Country (March 20).

We are not currently forecasting freezing temperatures in the Austin metro area nor in our eastern counties. Stay tuned for updates as we fine-tune this forecast.

Forecast temperatures early Monday, Mar. 20

Making the forecast more interesting is the potential of light overrunning precipitation this weekend into early next week. We currently expect a 10-20% chance of light precipitation this weekend, then a higher chance on Monday as a storm moves overhead.

While we are hoping the precipitation falls as just cold, light rain, we cannot currently rule out a wet snowflake in the Hill Country.

Radar forecast Monday, Mar. 20 showing light rain potentially mixing with sleet or snowflakes

If we do see a wintry mix or light snow, it is unlikely to accumulate or cause any impacts. The potential of wintry precipitation appears to come more from cold air at upper- and mid-levels of the atmosphere, as opposed to temperatures being below freezing near the ground-level. This means that while snow may mix in with cold rain, it is unlikely to stick to the ground.

Even with surface temperatures near or above freezing, our best long-range computer models are all suggesting that light, grassy accumulations cannot be ruled out, especially in the Hill Country. GFS, European and Canadian ensemble models all point to the potential of light snow accumulations late Sunday and/or Monday.

European ensemble model showing potential light snow accumulation (average shown: 1/2″)

Stay tuned for forecast updates as this late-season cold snap and storm system approach. Our forecast, and this article, will be updated daily as we ingest new data and fine-tune the impacts we expect.