Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nice for Halloween, Chilly for the Weekend!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- another cool start for Friday
- downright cold mornings for the weekend
- stays dry into the middle of next week

Yesterday’s front provided very little in the way of measurable rainfall across the region as our extended run of dry fall weather continues.  According to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor, we are not “in drought” just yet but much of the area along and north of the I-12 corridor is “Abnormally Dry.”  For many farmers, that’s not a bad thing: dry falls make an easier go of the sugarcane harvest.  On the other hand, some hay growers are not seeing the growth that they would like and foresters and land managers are getting a bit concerned about local wildfire threats.  What’s more, we’ve seen some of you breaking out the lawn sprinklers, trying to keep the grass and landscaping happy.  And as of right now, the extended outlook keeps our area dry until next Wednesday.

On the other hand, not everyone is disappointed by the run of dry weather, low humidity and sunshine. 

Yesterday’s front delivered the first of two doses of ‘continental’ air to the region.  After a cool start this morning, it was mid 70°s for most WAFB neighborhoods this afternoon under sunshine.  Plan for another cool start on Halloween morning with sunrise temperatures in the upper 40°s to low 50°s for most WAFB communities under mainly-clear skies.  Sunshine should take us back into the low to mid 70°s but it will be a breezy, if not downright windy, Halloween afternoon.   

For the little ghosts and goblins, the weather cooperates for door-to-door “Trick-or-Treating” -- metro area temperatures on Friday evening will turn cool but not cold, easing from the upper 60°s around 5:30-6:00PM down to the upper 50°s around 8:00-8:30PM.  It will be a little breezy through the evening but costumes with sleeves should be good enough for most of the goblins, with dad carting a light jacket along just in case.

The second dose of continental air arrives Friday evening and you will certainly feel it by Saturday morning.  Many of us will begin Saturday in the upper 30°s -- the coolest morning for Baton Rouge since April 16th.  And for Saturday afternoon, some of WAFB’s more northern neighborhoods may not even make it into the 60°s!  Talk about chilly?  That’s more like what we would expect in January, not late October.

Sunday morning will be even colder, with mid 30°s for metro Baton Rouge and areas north and east of the Capital City flirting with a brief, light freeze -- especially north of the state line.  We’ll call for mid to upper 60°s for most on Sunday afternoon.

Of course, that would be a very early freeze, even for our southwest Mississippi viewers.  For locations along and north of the LA/MS state line, the climatological average “First Fall Freeze” is around mid-November.  For metro Baton Rouge, an easy-to-remember rule-of-thumb is that the “average date” of the first freeze comes around the Thanksgiving holiday.  Although October freezes do occur in SW Mississippi, they aren’t common.  Historical statistics suggest that our Mississippi viewers can expect an October freeze only once every 7 to 10 years, on average.

Into next week, a warming trend sets in as we return to afternoons in the 70°s for Monday through Wednesday, with the next cold front scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.  And since most of us could use a little rain, let’s hope that next week’s front is a little more “productive.”

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Few Showers Possible on Tuesday & Wednesday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- very slight rain chance for Tuesday, 30% chance for Wednesday
- cooler-and-drier for the rest of the week
- T.S. Hanna inland over NE Nicaragua
- keeping tabs on Invest 95L, east of the Leeward Islands

Most of us have only had three significant rainy days over the past 8 weeks or so ... 60-day rain totals for much of the viewing area are running at just 60% to 75% of normal. We’ve enjoyed a prolonged spell of fine autumn weather, but many of us could use a decent soaking now. That said, not everyone needs rain: some of our more southern and coastal viewers would tell you that they have seen more than enough over the past two months.

True, fall tends to be one of the drier periods of the year, especially if we go through the season without any tropical troubles. And no one is “in drought” as yet, but a little rain would be great for many lawns, gardens, streams and bayous, plus it would knock down some of the dust and pollen that’s beginning to give many of you that irritating ‘drip and tickle’ in the back of the throat!

So what about some rain? A modest chance, at most, over the next two days.

A cool front slides through the state on Wednesday, but it’s not packing much of a punch. No threat of any severe weather is a good thing, but no rain will mean no help for dry landscapes and pastures. We’ll go with spotty showers (at best) for Tuesday and then only a 30% rain chance for Wednesday as the front slides by. So most of you won’t get any measurable rain ... and most of those that do get a shower or two will hardly notice any improvement.

What’s more, we’re thinking that if you don’t get any rain over the next two days, you will have to wait until another week -- until next Tuesday and Wednesday -- for the next real chance.

Wednesday’s front will be followed by a cooler-and-drier continental air mass, with highs in the 70°s for the rest of the week and the weekend, and lows dropping as low as the 40°s for some WAFB communities by week’s end. So for outdoor fun for the kids, the weather will cooperate right through the upcoming weekend -- but the plants, trees and shrubs aren’t happy.

In the tropics, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) decided that what were the remnants of T.D. #9 made a big come-back earlier today over the western Caribbean and designated the disturbed weather as T.S. Hanna, the eighth ‘named’ storm of the season. Hanna has already moved inland over the coast of Nicaragua this afternoon, but the NHC maintained ‘her’ at tropical-storm strength through the 4pm Advisory. It seems a near certainty that Hanna will rapidly weaken and is expected to dissipate in 24 hours or less.

The NHC is also watching a large tropical wave to the east of the Lesser Antilles, designating the area of lowest pressure as Invest 95L. Development chances for 95L are set at just 20% over the next five days and the ‘early’ forecast models keep 95L out in the open Atlantic.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mild & Dry Through the Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- another very cool start for Friday’s wake-up
- looking good, staying dry for Friday & the weekend
- no ‘tropical’ issues in the Atlantic Basin

Today was yet another in our long run of weather beauties. We started the day off with a Metro Airport low of 49°, tying the season’s low thus far (tied with October 5th). 

And a heads-up: unfortunately, Mother Nature has sent us a deck of high clouds from the west this afternoon. That could be an issue for viewing today’s partial solar eclipse -- between about 5pm and sunset for the WAFB viewing area.

Skies will become mainly-clear again later this evening and overnight with temperatures headed back down into the upper 40°s for the Red Stick. After that “almost chilly” start to the day, tomorrow will turn absolutely gorgeous: mainly sunny and a little warmer with highs for the Capital City in the upper 70°s to around 80°. And the weekend? Highs back into the 80°s with sunny to mostly-sunny skies both days and comfortably low humidity. The LSU Tiger faithful will love the afternoon tailgating weather! 

So how much longer can this high-and-dry pattern continue?

Well, we keep it mostly dry through next week too. Not entirely dry, but rain chances will be very low, with a shower or two possible during the latter half of Tuesday and maybe isolated showers for Wednesday. But that’s just about all that we can expect based on the way things look right now. We’re calling for morning lows in the 50°s and 60°s with highs in the 80°s for Monday through Wednesday. We’ve got a weak cool front trying to make its way into the lower Mississippi Valley early Wednesday, but NWS guidance essentially washes the front off the weather map before it arrives in our area. Even so, the approaching front will signal the arrival of slightly cooler and less humid air at mid-week, taking temperatures down a few degrees by Thursday and likely delivering another run of dry weather through next weekend.

Yes, most of us wouldn’t mind a little rain right about now.

It’s “quiet” in the tropics after yesterday evening’s demise of T.D. #9. We are keeping a watch on a bubble of convective action in the extreme northwestern Caribbean as well as the remnants of #9 which is inland over Mexico near the Yucatan ... but neither of these features shows any pending threat of significant tropical development.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Little Cooler on Thursday & Friday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- northerly flow means slightly cooler and even ‘drier’ air
- looking good through the weekend and into next week
- T.D. #9 headed into the Yucatan tonight

** Reminder **  Much of the U.S. will enjoy a partial eclipse of the sun tomorrow.  For Baton Rouge, the eclipse will begin just after 5pm and peak near 6pm!  Want to watch it with the pros?  Astronomers from the Highland Road Park Observatory and LSU will have equipment for viewing out at BREC’s Soccer Complex on the south end of Burbank Drive.

As for our weather: another beauty today -- we are definitely getting spoiled.  Yes, lots of us could use a shower or two to knock down the pollen and dust, but I think that most of us are quite pleased with our extended run of fair weather.  Today marks nine straight days with mainly sunny skies and highs in the 70°s and 80°s.

Yesterday we talked about a ‘dry’ front passing from north to south through the region, and that is exactly what happened earlier today.  Not only does that front deliver a ‘booster shot’ of low humidity but it sets up a weather situation where many of us will see morning lows near or below 50° for the next few mornings.  By the way, note that the ‘normal high’ for today in Baton Rouge is 79° -- while we can’t say no more ‘hot’ days for 2014, we’ve definitely crossed a ‘climatology’ threshold!

And STILL more great fall weather ahead right through this weekend: mainly sunny each day right through Sunday, comfortably low humidity, cool mornings and mild afternoons in upper 70°s to low 80°s.  For the weekend, LSU Homecoming on Saturday?  Just about perfect.  The Greater Baton Rouge State Fair?  Outstanding.

Our current extended forecast places a very slight chance of a shower or two next Tuesday or early Wednesday when our next front is scheduled to arrive, but even then we are talking about rain chances well under 20%.  Another 10+ days with without any rain?  Very possible.

Late last night, the National Hurricane Center upgraded Invest 93L to T.D. #9, suggesting that #9 would become a tropical storm sometime today.  Well, shearing winds kept T.D. #9 from developing a good convective cloak (wrap-around thunderstorms).  As a result, it looks like #9 will remain a depression as it makes landfall along the Campeche Coast of the Yucatan.  The low-pressure system is expected to cross the landmass and emerge over the western Caribbean by Friday.  At issue is whether the system will still be a depression by then.  Regardless, T.D. #9 offers no threat to Gulf interests within the next 7 days or more.

Monday, October 20, 2014

More Mild & Dry Days Ahead!

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:
- mild-and-dry autumn weather continues

- upper 70°s to low 80°s for highs each day
- watching a broad low pressure area in the southern Gulf
The past several days have served as a textbook explanation of why October is my favorite south Louisiana month (as long as the tropics are behaving) ... and there is much more of this great fall weather ahead for our viewing area.
Our forecast remains rain-free right through the upcoming weekend and the temperatures and humidity will cooperate as well.  Mornings for the Red Stick will see sun-up temperatures in the 50°s with afternoon highs in the upper 70°s to low 80°s -- all along, dew points will remain in the very comfortable range.  Two words come to mind: nearly perfect!

Any weather action over the U.S. during the week will remain to the north.  We’ll get yet another ‘dry’ cold front sliding through the region early Wednesday (what some would call a ‘backdoor’ cold front from the northeast), serving to bolster our run and fair weather and low humidity with a dose of ‘continental’ (Canadian) air.  After Wednesday’s front, surface high pressure over the central U.S. remains in charge through the weekend, with the extended outlook suggesting that another ‘backdoor’ front moves through late Sunday or early Monday.
Our forecast this week calls for mainly sunny skies just about every day.  Right now, it looks like Wednesday’s front will be just too dry to produce more than a few fair-weather clouds on its way by.  Headed into the weekend, we can expect a few more clouds each afternoon, but even then it looks like fair to partly-cloudy skies for the mid-days and afternoons.  No complaints . . .
If you’ve been watching closely, the First Alert team has been mentioning a low pressure mess in and around the southwestern Gulf for several days now.  Currently the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is posting an area in the southern Bay of Campeche with a 50% chance of tropical (or sub-tropical) development in the next two days with those percentages at 60% over the next five days.  There are several features at play here: remnants from what was the East-Pacific’s short-lived T.S. Trudy, moisture surging northwards from the western Caribbean, and a ‘semi-stalled’ front draped SW-to-NE across the southern and central Gulf. 


And it could be more than five days before something actually does develop, if at all.  The majority of our models have the low-pressure blob hanging around the Bay of Campeche and the Yucatan Peninsula for the next 4-5 days.  More importantly for Louisiana interests, if something were to form somewhere over the southern Gulf in the next five to seven days, it would almost certainly move east, becoming more of a problem for Florida (and Cuba) and unlikely to seriously impact the Central Gulf Coast.

So let’s enjoy our local autumn weather . . . and for now, not worry about the tropics.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Looking Great Through the Weekend!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- a little warmer for Friday & Saturday
- a dry cool front arrives Sunday
- dry all of next week too
- Gonzalo taking aim at Bermuda

Well, our forecast remains on track: fair skies and relatively low humidity will make for comfortable mornings and mild-to-warm afternoons. We’re calling for morning lows in the upper 50°s to low 60°s through the next five to seven days with afternoon highs in the low to mid 80°s. Patchy fog around sunrise could be an issue for some locations over the coming days, but for now we don’t expect any Fog Advisories ... not at least over the next several days.

True, you may need to water the fall garden or that ornamental landscaping, but other than that it’s difficult to complain. The way it looks right now, we will likely remain rain-free this weekend, through the entire upcoming work week and quite possibly through next weekend too!

About the only thing that we’ll have to work on will be the day-to-day temperatures: we’ll tweak them a degree or two here and there, but even those forecast numbers appear to be on pretty solid footing.

Our extended outlook is still calling for a pair of weak cool fronts to push through our viewing area in the short-to-medium range. The first gets through here Saturday but it will be a dry front, knocking back Sunday temperatures a couple of degrees and delivering a booster-shot of low-humidity air. After highs for Baton Rouge in the mid 80°s on Friday and Saturday, Sunday will top out in the low 80°s. A second ‘dry’ front pushes through the WAFB region early Tuesday: once again helping to drop area temperatures a couple of degrees and helping keep humidities comfortably low.

So get set for a prolonged run of fair-sky days, ranging from sunny to partly cloudy, with blue skies the rule rather than the exception.

In the western Atlantic, Gonzalo remains the weather focus as ‘he’ continues on a collision course with Bermuda. If you were with us last night during the 10PM Newscast, we noted how Gonzalo was developing a well-defined eye and that intense convection was wrapping entirely around the center: signs that a new round of intensification was likely. Well, that is exactly what happened and as of this morning, Category 4 Gonzalo became stronger than ever with peak sustained winds near 145 mph. As of 4PM, Gonzalo is still maintaining sustained winds at 145 mph with gusts into the 170s! For the trivia-minded, that makes Gonzalo the hurricane with the highest winds over the Atlantic Basin since Igor, back in September 2010.

Although Gonzalo is expected to weaken before reaching Bermuda, the cyclone will still be a ‘major’ hurricane as it approaches and passes the island-nation. For Bermuda residents, the questions are: “How close will Gonzalo get?” and “How bad will it be?”

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Staying Nice, A Bit Warmer

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- fine autumn weather continues, a little warmer into Saturday
- a dry cold front passes through on Sunday
- looks ‘rain free’ through the next 7+ days

Today was the second superb autumn day for the WAFB viewing area and there are many more on the way.  We will begin a brief and rather modest warming trend tomorrow with afternoon highs for the Baton Rouge metro area returning to the low to mid 80°s for Thursday, Friday and Saturday under fair skies.  And the humidity remains low, so no complaints!

Over the weekend, a reinforcing cold front will be headed our way and slides through the viewing area by late Saturday.  It will be a dry front, with little more than a few fair-weather clouds passing by ahead of the front.  The slightly cooler air behind Saturday’s front will knock temperatures back a few degrees after it passes by -- look for Sunday afternoon highs to top-out around 80° to the low 80°s.  Bottom line: this is going to be a “get outside” weekend, whether it’s to for yard work, a little exercise and fresh air, or just a nice afternoon under fair skies.  Enjoy!

Headed into the next week, we’re calling for more of the good stuff: mainly fair skies for just about the entire work week with yet another dry, cold front sliding through the viewing area on Tuesday.

Although it’s taken half the month, this is the kind of weather that makes October a favorite for so many.  Unlike the stormy frontal weather on Monday, many of our autumn fronts are relatively mild and uneventful – that’s exactly what we’re expecting for the upcoming fronts on Sunday and Tuesday.  These dry fronts often do little more than dropping the temperatures by a few degrees and scrub some of the humidity out of the air, leaving us with mild days with low humidity and cool nights and early mornings.  Think of this weather as a reward for managing the summer season heat and humidity.

In the Atlantic, Gonzalo cranked-up into a Category 4 hurricane this morning, but the 4 p.m. advisory showed a small drop in winds to 125 mph, making it once again a Category 3. However, it's still a very strong and dangerous hurricane. The forecast track still takes a powerful Gonzalo towards Bermuda, with the system currently expected to be a ‘major’ hurricane (Category 3 or 4) as it passes close to the island-nation.  In fact, the official forecast takes Gonzalo just west of Bermuda, putting the island on the most-destructive ‘right side’ of the projected storm track.

Gonzalo is the first hurricane in the Atlantic to reach Category 4 intensity since 2011’s Ophelia, which peaked in strength on the evening of October 1st (local time).  Somewhat ironically, Ophelia’s track was not too unlike the forecasted path for Gonzalo.  But Ophelia passed far enough to the east of Bermuda that the storm had only limited impacts on the island.  Gonzalo may prove to be a much bigger problem.