Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Staying Warm, Mainly Dry

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB Storm Team QuickCast:

- clearing skies tonight, patchy light wake-up fog for Wednesday
- warm & dry for Wednesday and Thursday afternoons
- slight rain chances (20% or less) for Friday through Sunday

As we mentioned during yesterday's evening weathercasts, the 'cool' front that is pushing to the south and southeast through the state this afternoon and evening doesn’t have a whole lot of "punch" to it, barely generating so much as a shower in the region this afternoon. What's more, while we are calling it a ‘cool front’ it will make very little difference in our local temperatures and humidity. 

With most spring fronts traveling through the central Gulf Coast area from the west and northwest, we usually feel a welcomed drop in both dew points (humidity) and temperatures after the front moves through. But that's not going to be the case this time around. In fact, while our regional dew points may briefly drop a degree or two on Wednesday, the day will be as warm, if not warmer, than today. 

Whatever is left of today's front may back-up as a warm front on Wednesday, with warm and slightly-humid Gulf air settling over the Bayou State for the rest of the week. Yet even if the front retreats northward on Wednesday it won't have enough energy and mid-level moisture to do more than generate a few fair-weather clouds. We're expecting a mostly sunny Wednesday afternoon -- another fine outdoor "play day" for those youngsters enjoying a week off from school.

Our forecast headed into the weekend hasn't changed either from yesterday. We'll go with lows in the 60°s for the mornings with patchy wake-up fog and low to mid 80°s for the afternoon highs through Sunday. 

We’ll enjoy partly cloudy skies on Thursday. However, by Friday and the weekend, our daytime warm-ups will combine with the moisture from the Gulf air in place, resulting in spotty-to-isolated afternoon showers for all three days. Any showers that do develop should be short-lived, and while one or two may generate some claps of thunder, all three days should be fairly good days for some outside fun. With rain chances at 20% or less for each of the afternoons, there’s no reason to be concerned about any outdoor plans.

Into next week, our two favorite extended outlook models -- the GFS and the 'Euro' -- are still indicating the arrival of our next spring front on a Monday/Tuesday timeframe. Both models seem to suggest a slightly later arrival than they did yesterday and both models also suggest that this will likely be a more 'active' frontal passage than what we saw today. It is still a little too far off to nail-down the exact timing or the severe weather potential, but keep it in mind for any plans you might be making for next Monday evening.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good-Looking Easter Weekend!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB Storm Team QuickCast:

- a few showers/storms this afternoon & evening, clearing skies tonight
- nearly-perfect spring weather for Saturday and Sunday
- good-looking weather for most of the coming week

It was a mild night and morning start as clouds helped keep the morning lows in the upper 50°s to low 60°s for most WAFB neighborhoods. And as expected, we enjoyed some nice breaks in the clouds through Good Friday even with the slight chance of showers that persisted throughout the day.

The day’s spotty showers were the product of two larger-scale features: a weak eastbound mid-level disturbance to our north and back-side wrap-around circulation associated with the intensifying storm system to our east. Individual cells within that wrap-around flow were drifting along a general north-to-south track and produced a few flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder around the viewing area during the afternoon, but nothing serious or ‘severe.’

These pop-up thundershowers could make things a little dicey for this evening's "Live After Five." But by later this evening, everything clears out, leaving us with a fine Easter weekend ahead.

We're expecting morning starts in the 50°s and mostly-sunny to partly-cloudy afternoons with highs around 80° or so for both Saturday and Easter Sunday. Dew points will be in the low to mid 50°s for most of us throughout the weekend, indicating a fairly "dry" (non-humid) air mass in place.

Frankly, it doesn't get much better than this, so try to get outdoors and enjoy! Sunrise services and Easter morning egg hunts should go off without any nuisances from Mother Nature!

The nice spring weather holds throughout the better part of the upcoming work week too! We'll toss in a slight chance of rain for Tuesday -- at 20% or so -- with afternoon highs in the 80° to 83° range for the Red Stick just about all week long. Towards the week's end, we'll see another chance for afternoon showers and a few storms, but as of right now, it's a pretty good 7-day outlook. You might notice a slight rise in the humidity as the work week progresses, but nothing that feels truly muggy. 

With just about all area schools having an extended break this coming week, you couldn't ask for a much better run of days for the youngsters!

Happy Easter from the entire WAFB Storm Team!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Looking Good by the Weekend!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB Storm Team QuickCast:

- scattered, mainly-light showers tonight and early Friday
- spotty light showers for Friday afternoon 
- looks great for the Easter weekend!

The disturbance over the Gulf of Mexico snuck a little farther north this afternoon than we had expected, helping to generate our afternoon overcast and delivering showers along the Louisiana coast for much of the afternoon. While we’ve even seen a few flashes of lightning to our west in Acadiana and out over the coastal waters, most of the rains across the southern parishes have been rather light, and we expect that rains will stay that way into the evening and overnight.

So yes, we will carry a chance of rain in the Friday forecast, calling for scattered, mainly-light showers for metro Baton Rouge for this evening, overnight and into early Friday morning. Rain chances will be a bit higher closer to the coast, especially areas east of the Atchafalaya Bay. By contrast, rain chances decrease as you move north and west of the Capital City.

By Friday noon, we’re dropping rain chances to less than 20% (“spotty”) for most WAFB communities. That means someone may see an afternoon shower or two, but again, whatever does fall will be rather light and probably not very long-lasting. We can’t entirely rule out a passing shower for Friday’s “Live After Five” but the odds look pretty good that the downtown music fest goes just fine.

As for the Easter weekend, our forecast seems to get better with each passing day. We’ve essentially taken any chance of rain out of the forecast for both Saturday and Easter Sunday, with morning starts in the 50°s and afternoon highs around 80° for both days. Saturday looks nearly perfect for mid April. And whether you’re headed to Easter sunrise services, a mid-morning Egg Hunt, a backyard boil, or just enjoying family and friends, we think you’ll be mighty pleased with Sunday’s weather too.

Our forecast calls for a very modest warming trend through the coming seven days. By early next week, morning starts will be near or even above 60° with afternoon highs climbing into the low 80°s -- temperatures that will be just a tad above the norm but nothing to complain about. We do have a slight chance of rain for Tuesday, but other than that the days look mainly-dry into the middle of next week, at least.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Warmer into the Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB Storm Team QuickCast:

- warming trend underway with 80°s by the weekend

- mainly dry Thursday, a few showers possible for Friday

- Easter weekend looks good
Yep!  Metro Airport set a new record low this morning, but it wasn’t just a record for today.  This morning’s 37° for Baton Rouge is the lowest reading ever after April 15th, based on all the observations dating back to the Spring of 1893 -- that’s more than 120 years!
So here’s the key take-away: we should now be able to say “Goodbye!” to the 30°s until sometime late in the Fall of 2014.  Enough of winter, please!
Our daily temperatures for Thursday will still end up below seasonal norms, but a warming trend has already begun after the cool weather over the past 36 hours or so.  Although we only reached the mid 60°s at Metro Airport this afternoon, that’s still a little warmer than Tuesday afternoon.  And tomorrow morning’s low for metro Baton Rouge should be about 10° higher than this morning’s record low.  We’ll get into the low 70°s for Thursday afternoon and by Friday, wake-up temperatures will be in the upper 50°s to near 60° for the Red Stick with afternoon readings climbing into the upper 70°s.
While a spotty shower or two for Thursday can’t be totally discounted, most stay dry through the day.  For Friday, we’re posting a 30% rain chance for the region -- but even for Friday, any rain that does fall should be relatively modest and short-lived.  All in all, it looks good for Friday’s “Live After Five” with temperatures during the outdoor concert in the 70°s under a sun/cloud mix.
Maybe of greater importance for most of us is the “improved” weekend outlook.  Yesterday we were calling for isolated showers possible for both Saturday and Easter Sunday.  But our guidance today paints an even better-looking weather picture.  A rogue shower can’t be completely ruled out for either day, but both afternoons should be warm and mainly-dry across the area.  Get ready for those Easter Egg Hunts!
We’ll call for isolated mainly-afternoon showers for Monday and Tuesday, with fair to partly cloudy skies for Wednesday. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Record Lows Likely on Wednesday Morning!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB Storm Team QuickCast:

- record low on the way for Wednesday’s sunrise!
- warming trend through the rest of the work week
- adding very modest daily rain chances for Thursday through Sunday

After last night’s storms, the cold and dry Canadian air mass behind the passing cold front delivered a sunny but windy and cool Tuesday with highs struggling to make the 60°s. For many of us today ‘felt’ cooler than it really was. 

However, the bigger weather story arrives tomorrow morning. We’re posting a forecast low of 36° for the Red Stick, with folks up near and north of the LA/MS state line flirting with a brief, light freeze.


The current long-term record low for April 16th for Baton Rouge is 39° -- so it looks like we’ll ‘shatter’ that record since a 4° change in any daily record is very unusual and very noteworthy. But there is more to it than that. The lowest temperature ever for Baton Rouge on or after April 16th is 38° (set on April 18, 1997), which means Wednesday morning’s outlook calls for the coldest morning start ever for this late in the year -- and that’s based on records dating back to April 1893!

Thankfully, this visit by Ol’ Man Winter is a ‘one stop’ deal, with a warm-up kicking in for Wednesday afternoon as afternoon highs are expected to reach the upper 60°s under sunny skies. Then it’s a low in the mid to upper 40°s for Thursday morning with afternoons in the 70°s for Thursday and Friday. And by the weekend, we’re expecting afternoons to reach the 80°s -- much more like what we expect for mid to late April.

Closer inspection of our daily forecasts through Sunday also shows that we’ve got rain chances posted for each day from Thursday through the weekend. But those percentages are on the low side, max’ing out at a mere 30% for Friday. Yesterday we were calling for ‘rain likely’ on Friday, but some of the latest guidance has the rainmaking front we were anticipating essentially fizzling out before its arrival from the west. So yes, hit-n-miss showers for Thursday and Friday, but nothing of real significance the way it looks right now.

As for those 20% rain chances over the weekend? Certainly not enough to worry about, so go ahead and make plans to enjoy the outdoors while the temperatures are still spring-time tolerable.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Storms Ending, Turning Much Cooler

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB Storm Team QuickCast:

- storms exiting overnight
- chilly Tuesday AM, sunny & cool afternoon
- record low likely for Wednesday morning

Today is proving just how dynamic our weather can be in the spring months. We woke up to a summer-like feel with temps in the mid 70°s and very high humidity levels. The warm (high of 86° in BTR) and humid air then helped fuel widespread shower and t-storm activity by afternoon in advance of a cold front. The storms prompted a Severe T-Storm Watch for just about all of our area and a Flash Flood Watch for some of our parishes southeast of Baton Rouge. And before April 14th comes to a close at midnight, temperatures may have fallen some 25° - 30° from our afternoon highs in the wake of that cold front!

The good news is that through 6 PM we’ve only had 1 Severe T-Storm Warning (St. John & St. Charles parishes) and no confirmed reports of severe weather in our viewing area. Today’s storms have primarily produced frequent lightning and locally heavy rains. Doppler radar estimates show the heaviest downpours have occurred in southern parts of Tangipahoa Parish, where as much as 3” to 5” of rain may have fallen.

Much Cooler Tuesday - Wednesday!

While the cold front is passing through the area this evening, scattered showers and a few t-storms will remain possible for a while behind the front. Rains should come to an end well before sunrise on Tuesday, giving way to clearing skies and a rather chilly morning start. Tuesday starts out with temps in the mid 40°s and highs will only climb into the low 60°s despite returning sunshine.

And have you packed up the winter weather gear? If so, it may be time to get it back out! Wednesday morning will likely see record lows falling across much of the area. Our forecast of 35° for Baton Rouge would not only shatter the record for the date (39° in 1983), but it would also be the coldest temperature Baton Rouge has seen this late in April in records dating back to the 1890s!

Extended Outlook

Wednesday stays on the cool side into the afternoon, but temperatures will quickly return to more typical April levels by the end of the week. Highs will be close to 80° each day from Friday into the weekend.
The warmer weather will also coincide with a return of good rain chances. Look for scattered showers to develop by late Thursday, with showers and t-storms likely on Friday. At this point, we’ll keep low-end rain chances (~20%) in the weekend forecast, but most of your outdoor plans should be just fine.

And finally…if Mother Nature allows (and it’s a big ‘if’), a total lunar eclipse will be visible tonight. The partial eclipse begins at 12:58 AM locally, with the eclipse entering ‘totality’ at 2:06 AM. The total eclipse concludes at 3:24 AM and the partial eclipse will wind down by 4:33 AM. The big question is whether clouds will clear out in time for us to see the eclipse. It looks borderline for many of us, but those west of the Capital City probably have a somewhat better chance of getting some breaks in the cloud cover at the time of the eclipse. Good luck if you decide to give it a shot late tonight!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Thoughts on Severe Weather Threat for Monday

Just one week ago we were under the gun for severe weather that rolled through the area.  Once again it looks like there is some potential for severe weather.  In fact the WAFB viewing area may see two separate rounds of severe weather potential Monday.

Currently (as of 9 PM) the current watch boxes extend into NW Louisiana.  The Tornado Watch includes Alexandria and Shreveport until 12 AM.  Weather models have indicated a possibility for some severe weather late tonight into early Monday morning for areas north of Baton Rouge.

As a result the Storm Prediction Center has issued a slight risk for severe weather in those areas.  It seems though that the higher resolution weather models (NAM, HRRR, PrecisionCast) keep things fairly quiet over the stateline in our SW Mississippi counties.  So the potential for widespread severe weather appears very low at this time.  But we still can't completely rule out one rogue storm or two moving through this area early Monday morning.  Timing would be 4AM-8AM.  The weather risks would be damaging winds, and iso'd tornadoes.

But we aren't done with the threat of severe weather after Monday morning.  A cold front will be pushing into the area late Monday during the evening hours.  Ahead of that front could be a squall line which could contain strong damaging winds and large hail.  The Storm Prediction Center has put the entire WAFB viewing area under a slight risk for severe weather Monday afternoon and evening.

The good news, it appears, is that once again severe weather potential should not be all that widespread and stay scattered in nature.  Also we shouldn't have to worry about tornadoes as the needed ingredients just don't look to be available.  Titan 9 PrecisionCast is indicating a broken squall line pushing through metro Baton Rouge sometime during Monday evening.  Majority of our weather model guidance agrees with this.  The window for possible severe storms in the WAFB viewing area looks to be around 3PM-10PM Monday.