Monday, March 2, 2015

Breezy & Warm Next Couple of Days

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- very wet today in some parts of the viewing area
- fog lingers this evening and through the night
- from the 70°s to 40°s at mid week

Pockets of rather thick fog for some locations and rains of 3” or more in others to start off the work week: not exactly what the doctor ordered.  And many of us could still be dealing with some thick fog tomorrow morning. The NWS has already posted a Dense Fog Advisory for just about the entire WAFB viewing area, going into effect this evening and 9 p.m. and remaining in effect until 9 a.m. tomorrow. 

It will be a mild, muggy night and morning start for Tuesday.  Not only with the fog and the possibility of a passing shower or two, but also given a forecasted low near 60° for the Capital City.  In the meantime, radar and storm reports are indicating some substantial 24-hour rain totals, led by a whopping 5.26” in Liberty, MS as of 3PM.

All of this going on as we watch a warm front lift northward through our viewing area.  That has generated an impressive temperature gradient across the viewing area: 4PM temperatures were in the mid and upper 70°s in Ascension Parish, the mid 60°s in EBR Parish, but down into the 50°s for parts of the Felicianas and Pointe Coupee Parish.  That gradient should slacken as the warm front lifts north tonight.

We’ll keep a 30% to 40% rain chance in the forecast for Tuesday -- mainly for showers in the afternoon but a rumble or two of thunder can’t be ruled out.  In addition, Tuesday will be breezy and quite warm with highs in the upper 70°s for the Red Stick.

We’re going a little warmer for Wednesday, with a morning start in the low to mid 60°s for metro BR and an afternoon high maybe a degree or so higher than Tuesday.  And like Tuesday, fog could be an issue for the Wednesday morning drive. 

Our next front is scheduled to arrive late Wednesday into the early hours Thursday, and this front will leave a mark!  We’re not concerned about severe weather, but you will the impact of the Arctic air mass behind the front as temperatures will plummet.  The additional issue of concern with the mid-week cold front is the potential for wintry precipitation.  Our thinking is that there is little chance for snow or sleet accumulations in the viewing area.  However, areas north of the Capital City may see temperatures drop quickly enough to support the onset of pockets of freezing rain, especially over elevated roads and bridges.

However, timing of the lingering rains behind the front and the arrival and southward extend of sub-freezing temperatures is still in question right now.  We’ll need to watch as the forecast models adjust and fine-tune the weather picture for Wednesday night and early Thursday over the next 24 to 48 hours.  In the meantime, our gut feeling right now is that metro BR misses out on the freezing rain threat.

After a cold Thursday afternoon with highs in the 40°s for metro BR and a light freeze for the Red Stick on Friday morning, temperatures should start a slow warming trend that carries through the weekend and into the following week.  Unfortunately, the rain outlook for the weekend is a little “cloudy” at this stage, so we’ll go with a low confidence outlook for scattered showers on both Saturday and Sunday.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Warmer, Some Rain This Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- warming trend through the weekend and into next week
- backing down a bit for Sunday’s rains

Overnight and early morning clouds slowed the temperature drop last night and kept just about all WAFB communities above freezing this morning -- and we doubt that anyone’s complaining. 

As expected, it was a mix of sun and clouds for much of today. Add in the north to northeast winds and it kept us cool-ish. But at least most of us made it into the 50°s -- still 15° or more below normal for the daytime high but at least not the 40°s for highs that we endured on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

We’ve been talking about a warm-up over the weekend ... and it’s on the way. But first, it’ll be another cold night and morning start for Saturday. Plan for sunrise temperatures tomorrow once again in the mid 30°s for the Red Stick. Then the warm-up finally begins, with fair to partly-cloudy skies through the day getting most WAFB neighborhoods to 60° or more for the afternoon. Sunday morning will be considerably milder, with sun-up temperatures around 50°. By Sunday afternoon, some of us could be up around 70° -- sounds good!

There’s been another positive development with our weekend forecast: the “likely” rain chances we had been posting for Sunday have dropped considerably. We’re not ready to say “rain free” … but instead of the 50% to 70% rain chances we had been talking over the last couple of days, we’re now down in the 30% to 40% range. And even if it does rain in your neighborhood, we’re not talking big totals or an all-day event: most of you that do get rain will see less than one-quarter-inch.

Into next week, it’s looking like more 70°s for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday -- real springtime temperatures. However, although we’ve lowered the rain prospects for Sunday, we’ll keep decent rain chances in the forecast for each of these three days as the regional weather pattern stays unsettled. In fact, for Monday and Wednesday, we’re thinking “numerous” showers and t-storms possible.

Of course, at this time of year, we can expect more of the temperature rollercoaster ride and that’s exactly what we’re anticipating by the latter part of the week. The latest NWS guidance from the Weather Prediction Center currently has the next cold front arriving in the lower Mississippi Valley on Thursday, which means, “Goodbye 70°s!” The question then becomes, “Just how cold?”

Our key extended models have started to come into a little more agreement over the last couple of runs. The GFS was first to indicate the potential for freezes by late next week and the Euro is now showing some support. With that in mind, it's possible our Thursday and Friday temps may have to be revised downward a bit as the forecast becomes clearer.

In the meantime, enjoy a little “taste of spring” … and watch the lawns and gardens (and mosquitoes) respond to the warm-up too!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Waiting on a Warm-Up!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- dry but with wake-ups near freezing for the next two days
- waiting on a warm-up!

If you think it’s been a chilly February, you are correct: Baton Rouge’s monthly average temperature for February 2015 will come in at roughly 50° the way things look right now, about 5° below the monthly norm. Now at first look, 5° may not sound like a big departure-from-normal (DFN). But this will be the ‘coldest’ February for the Red Stick since 2010 and may fall among the dozen ‘coldest’ Februarys for Baton Rouge based on the area’s climate record (dating back to the 1890s).

So when does a warm-up arrive? Not right away, but soon.

After a cold start this morning in the low to mid 30°s for metro BR, some WAFB communities didn’t even make it into the 50°s this afternoon. A weak, dry cold front moved through our area today, delivering a reinforcing shot of cold, continental air as it essentially fizzled away. And while we did get some nice afternoon sunshine, clouds will be returning tonight and that will limit just how cold it gets overnight and into early Friday morning. 

Like this morning, we’re anticipating that communities near and north of the I-10/12 corridor will flirt with a light freeze once again for Friday morning (low to mid 30°s). After a mostly cloudy start to the day, we can expect a sun/cloud mix through the afternoon. However, even with periods of sunshine, today’s “booster shot” of polar air will be enough to keep temperatures throughout Friday on the cool side: we’re calling for Friday highs a rot just above 50° for the Capital City.

We’ll slip back down into the mid 30°s for Saturday morning under partly cloudy skies: “Good Luck!” to Saturday morning’s Polar Plungers at Cabela’s in Gonzales! But it’s for a good cause: supporting Special Olympics Louisiana. Come watch as Matt Williams, Steve Caparotta and Jay Grymes turn blue in the cold waters of Lake Cabela. (First plunges begin around 10am.)

Fair to partly cloudy skies should allow enough sunshine to drive Saturday afternoon temperatures into the upper 50°s to low 60°s … and the start of a warming trend that extends into next week.

The persistent upper-air pattern over the last many weeks -- with a trough over the eastern U.S. generating repetitive snow storms and record cold in places -- has kept the Bayou State on the chilly side too. As we head into the weekend, models show the current eastern trough lifting out and slowly being replaced with an upper-air ridge over the southeastern U.S. by Sunday. That ridge will mean a warming trend that has some of in the 70°s by Sunday with mid to upper 70°s likely next week.

Unfortunately, those spring-like temperatures will come at a price: we’ve got showers and t-storms in the forecast starting on Sunday and continuing each day into the middle of next week. These won’t be all-day rains, and for most days we’re expecting “scattered” coverage: much of the current guidance suggests daily rain chances in the 30% to 60% range from Sunday through Thursday, with Sunday looking like the “wettest” of the bunch.

Seems like a fair-enough trade: pick up the umbrella and drop off the winter coats! Could that mean the end of our run of winter weather? Well, maybe … but don't count on it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Staying Cool Through Friday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- rain for us today, snows in the northern parishes
- storm system moves east this evening
- cool for the next couple of days, warming trend into the weekend

The near-steady rains got into our viewing area a little earlier than expected today and helped keep temperatures in the low to 40°s for most of us, with some of our northern viewers never getting out of the 30°s.  As we warned yesterday, today was simply a cold, wet and dreary day for everyone.

But it’s NOT in north Louisiana: as of noon, the NWS had already received a number of reports of 2” to 3” of snow from some north Louisiana parishes, with reports of 5” to 6” or more in parts of Texas and Arkansas.

Radar trends this afternoon have also been signaling an end to the bulk of the rain shield by the late afternoon or into the ‘rush hour’ window.  So starting this evening, the forecast for the next couple of days becomes largely a temperature forecast.

The clouds will hang around and stay with us through the night, helping to slow the overnight drop in temperatures.  It will be a close call, but we’re thinking that many communities along and north of the I-10/12 corridor will see a light freeze by Thursday’s wake-up, with 30°s likely reaching down into the coastal parishes.

Our Thursday forecast calls for slow-but-steady clearing through much of the day.  Northerly and northwesterly winds will counter some of the sun’s warming through the early afternoon, but we think that the Red Stick still manages to get into the low 50°s for Thursday afternoon.  And by the mid to late afternoon, we should be looking at partly cloudy skies.

A weak cool front will essentially fizzle out as it slides across the state on Thursday, offering a modest reinforcement for the chilly air already in place along the central Gulf Coast.  Our forecast currently calls for morning lows at or near freezing for metro Baton Rouge for both Friday and Saturday.  Most can expect fair to partly cloudy skies for both days too and Friday stays cool with a high around 50° or so for the Capital City.

An upper-level ridge will build over the Southeast U.S. during the weekend as a new upper-trough becomes established over the western states.  The ridge will deliver a notable warm-up, with highs in the 60°s for many WAFB neighborhoods on Saturday and reaching the 70°s for many on Sunday.  In fact, our latest forecast carries 70°s into at least the middle of next week!

Unfortunately, the milder, spring-like temperatures come with fairly decent rain chances from Sunday right through Wednesday.  We’re not talking a string of all-day wash-outs, but scattered showers and t-storms appear to be a pretty good bet, with rain chances ranging from as high as 60% or more on Sunday to 40% to 50% or so for Monday through mid-week.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Rainy, Chilly on Wednesday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- winter keeps hanging around the South
- rain a sure bet for Wednesday

As we expected, the freezing rain threat never really developed: not for a lack of cold but for a lack of overnight rain.  On the other hand, passing spritzes and sprinkles today were just enough to remind us that we had expected a mainly-dry afternoon with highs around 50° instead of the mid to upper 40°s.

We did get a few breaks in the clouds this afternoon, but they weren’t enough to allow a significant warm-up and those clouds will fill back in tonight as we slip down into the upper 30°s.  By sunrise on Wednesday, we should be seeing a return of isolated showers for the morning drive.  Most stay dry on their way to work, and temperatures will be too warm for any kind of wintry “stuff.”

We’ll stay chilly through the day on Wednesday, with highs topping out in the mid to upper 40°s for metro Baton Rouge.  And rain from mid-day into the late afternoon appears to be a near-certainty.  Indeed, we’re posting a somewhat rare 100% rain chance for the viewing area. 

We’re not anticipating heavy rains and we should get through the rain period with little if any thunder.  Most of our forecast models are trending towards rain totals tomorrow ranging from roughly 0.25” to 0.75” for just about everyone, so that shouldn’t be much of a problem either.

In case you were hoping otherwise, Ol’ Man Winter isn’t ready to make his exit just yet. 

Another winter storm system is expected to track across the South in the coming days.  It’s currently spinning over the Desert Southwest, and its winter weather forecast track has prompted a new series of watches, warning and advisories that extend from Texas to the Carolinas.  For Louisiana’s northern parishes, this go-around will likely be more of a snow-maker and less of an ice-maker that what they experienced over the past 24 hours.

We don’t anticipate any kind of winter weather concerns in our area this time: the winter action stays to the north.  However, our forecast has lows near or at freezing for Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings for the Red Stick.  Slow clearing on Thursday should allow temperatures to get into the low 50°s for the afternoon, but a reinforcing dry front between late Thursday and early Friday keeps the region chilly, with Friday afternoon highs barely making 50° for some WAFB communities even under fair to partly-cloudy skies.

Headed into the weekend, however, we’ll enjoy a warming trend that could have us in the 70°s by Sunday.  The nation’s signature upper-air pattern over the past two months or more has been “ridge over the west, trough over the east.”  That’s the set-up explaining the persistent cold in the eastern half of the country this winter as well as accounting for the record and near-record snows across parts of several midwestern and eastern states.  That upper-air pattern will begin a reversal by Saturday, with a modest ridge building over the southeastern U.S. as a deep trough digs over the western states.  Unfortunately, this won’t be a “dry” upper-level ridge pattern for us, as we’ll carry scattered rains in the forecast for Sunday and into early next week.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Light Freezing Rain Possible for Areas NW of Baton Rouge

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- temps continue falling through the night
- freezing rain potential to the north and west

Our weekend forecast didn’t turn out so well … and the forecast for the next 12 to 24 hours doesn’t get much easier.  The big question now: “What are the chances for frozen precipitation in our viewing area tonight?”

Let’s start with what we do know.  There’s really no chance for snow and little to no chance for sleet anywhere in the WAFB viewing area tonight or early tomorrow.  A rather thick layer of warm air in the mid-levels of the atmosphere eliminates the snow option and should be prohibitive to any sleet development even over the northern and western sections of our viewing area.

Temperatures will fall through the evening and overnight but the majority of the WAFB viewing area should remain above freezing.  However, some of our northern WAFB communities will get down to freezing before dawn, and that has prompted the National Weather Service to expand the “Freezing Rain Advisory” to now include all of SW Mississippi, the Felicianas, Pointe Coupee Parish and locations in central and western Louisiana.

Even metro Baton Rouge will get very close to freezing, with some of the metro area’s neighborhoods likely to at least briefly drop to 32°.  We recommend the metro area morning commuters need to vigilant over elevated bridges tomorrow morning.

The issue in many cases will be the amount of moisture.  We’re thinking only isolated showers after midnight, when the freezing rain threat will be the greatest.  A generaly lack of rainfall should limit the onset of roadway icing, even in those areas where temperatures are below freezing for an extended period of time.  As a result, we don’t expect icing to be a widespread problem for Tuesday morning.  Any travel issues will be limited to bridges and elevated roads in the WAFB portion of the current “Advisory” zone – and that will depend on if whether enough rain has fallen to allow a glaze to develop. 

Just be smart.  Everyone on the roads at or before sunrise tomorrow north of the I-10/12 corridor should be cautious.

Any rains on Tuesday are likely to be gone by the early morning, so the afternoon stays mainly dry.  We’re expecting clouds through most of the day, although we may see some breaks with sunshine during the afternoon.  That formula keeps us cool all day long, although at least some of us could get into the 50°s for the afternoon, even if only briefly. 

Everyone stays above freezing for Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, with rains on the return in the morning hours.  The rains and clouds keep things chillier on Wednesday with highs topping out in the 40°s.  Look for rain totals of an inch or more for much of the viewing area.

A dry-out begins for Wednesday night into Thursday, but that comes with another cold night as the Red Stick drops to around freezing by Thursday’s sunrise.  A return of at least limited sunshine on Thursday should get most of us back into the 50°s for the afternoon.  Then it’s another light freeze for the overnight into Friday morning for Baton Rouge, with highs on Friday returning to the 50°s once again.

So it’s a work week of below-normal temperatures … what about the weekend?

Baton Rouge returns to the 30°s for Saturday morning, with a warming trend pushing highs into the 60°s for the afternoon.  We’ll carry spotty showers in the Saturday forecast and isolated showers for Sunday, when afternoon temperatures are expected to reach the 70°s.​

Friday, February 20, 2015

Windy, Warm, Rain for Saturday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- warmer, wetter for Saturday
- cold front on Sunday, rain likely
- stays unsettled through next week

** Don’t forget -- rain or shine -- Steve and Jay will be at Academy Sports in Denham Springs at the Juban Crossing Center with representatives from the National Weather Service and several Livingston Parish ‘Response’ organizations to help you get ‘Storm Ready’ ... 11am-1pm on Saturday. **

A cold start to the day with some neighborhoods beginning Friday with a light morning freeze.  Temperatures warmed into the 60°s for most of us as clouds crossed the region throughout the day.  Doppler radar picked-up a pocket of showers that tracked from the coast to the northeast across the tidal lakes and towards the Hammond area during the afternoon.  Other spots in the viewing area had passing light showers through the afternoon but the majority of us stayed dry through the day.

We’ll keep isolated showers in the evening and late night forecast, with rains becoming more scattered in coverage by Saturday morning.  It stays breezy to windy through the evening and overnight too.  But we’re done with cold air -- at least for the short term -- as flow comes off the Gulf over the next 36 hours or more.  The mild and moist Gulf air will keep temperatures in the upper 50°s to around 60° through the night and into Saturday’s sunrise.

Rain chances will increase through the day on Saturday, with a rumble or two of thunder not out of the question.  It should be another breezy-to-windy day with highs getting into the 70°s for most WAFB neighborhoods.  The good news is that these won’t be all-day rains; in fact, we’re thinking that these will be passing, on-and-off showers for the most part.  Most won’t last long, although you could get more than one passing round through the day. 

We’re not thinking much in the way of accumulations either -- most will see well under one-quarter inch of rain on Saturday and whatever t-storms that do develop won’t be severe.  In fact, a few areas may stay dry throughout -- but we’re going with rain chances at 60% or better through the course of the day, so the majority of us should see at least a little rain.

The rains may subside just a bit into the evening and overnight, but they return for Sunday morning as a cold front approaches from the northwest.  We’re still juggling the timing of the front a bit, and the models are suggesting that it may slow just as it gets into our viewing area.  But it looks like a morning arrival fopr the cold front with rain likely through the morning and into the afternoon.  Once again, nothing severe to worry about, and it’s not likely to be an all-day rain affair.

With the morning arrival, however, we’ve taken 70°s off the Sunday board.  In fact, now we’re thinking low 60°s for highs in and around the Capital City.

Then comes a return of really chilly weather … and the rains linger as well. 

Our Monday forecast keeps highs in the 40°s, and there is growing potential for a little of the ‘frozen stuff’ across much of northern and western Louisiana during the day and into the evening.  For now, it looks like most or all of the WAFB area will stay too warm, but we’ll watch closely for the potential across some of our more northern and northwestern communities.

Our current forecast keeps things cool throughout the work week: we’re calling for highs in the 50°s all week long.  Lows should stay above freezing throughout for the Red Stick, although possibly getting close to a freeze on Tuesday.  And certainly our more northern communities will have better chances for light morning freezes, especially for Tuesday and Wednesday.

What’s more, the weather stays “unsettled” through the week too.  The key extended-range models we use -- the American GFS and the ‘European’ model -- differ on the day-to-day timings of rain days through the upcoming week, but both have rains moving in and out of the area during the Monday-thru-Friday window.

Keep the umbrella handy.