Friday, February 17, 2012

Heavy Rain, Severe Storms Possible Saturday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Today’s good news was the lack of rain in the area, as a warm front stayed well off-shore and the weak disturbances drifting in the upper-air flow simply didn’t have sufficient moisture to generate the passing showers that we had anticipated.  Indeed, most of us saw some sunshine during the afternoon, allowing highs to reach the 70°s.

The Krewe of Southdowns parade should go without a hitch.  We may see a patch or two of light rain in the area during the evening, but we’re keeping rain chances for Friday evening at less than 20%, and anything that does fall between now and midnight won’t amount to much.

By Saturday’s sunrise, it’ll be a different story ... and time for the rain gear. 

Officials for the Spanish Town Parade have delayed the start of that Mardi Gras tradition until 3:30-4PM -- a wise decision indeed.  In fact, don’t be surprised if they end up delaying the start of the parade just a tad more.

Our forecast calls for rains in the morning, with widespread rain and t-storms moving into the WAFB area from the west in earnest by late morning.  In addition to a FLASH FLOOD WATCH for the viewing area, Saturday’s stormy weather comes with a slight risk of damaging winds and isolated tornadoes, with the timing of the main threat of severe weather running between roughly 11AM and 3-4PM as the threat moves west-to-east.  The severe threat is a little higher for communities along and south of the I-10/12 corridor, but everyone in the WAFB viewing area should remain alert through the day.
(Don’t be surprised if a T-Storm or Tornado Watch is also posted by mid to late morning.)

Rain totals are likely to be in the 1” to 3” range for many of us, with isolated totals of 4” or more possible for those neighborhoods experiencing multiple passing t-storms through the day.  Not only could this produce localized flooding issues and roadway concerns, but several area rivers are running high already -- another couple of inches of rain in 6-12 hours could push several river-gaging sites above flood stage.

But here’s the silver lining: this looks like it may be a fairly quick-moving system, with much of the stormiest weather exiting the WAFB viewing area before dark.  In fact, the bulk of the rains could be over by or even before 7PM for many of us.

Clouds will linger into Saturday night as some “backside, wrap-around” flow brings in some mid-level moisture, but skies clear for a cool-but-sunny Sunday afternoon.

Lundi Gras (Monday) looks good.  We bring a 30% to 40% chance of rain back into the Mardi Gras holiday during the latter half of Tuesday, with better rain chances for Wednesday.

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