Thursday, February 2, 2012

More Fog...More Rain into the Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

We opened Thursday with some areas of dense fog, and we are likely to do it again on Friday morning. And like Thursday, we’ll stay warm and muggy tonight into Friday. But the big difference will be the much-increased rain chances for Friday -- after a mainly dry night and early morning, we’re going with a 60% chance of showers and t-storms by Friday mid-day into the afternoon and evening.

The good news is that we are not concerned about a severe weather threat on Friday. The less-than-good-news is that we keep fairly high chances of rain in the forecast through the weekend.

For now, we’re staying with a 60% chance of rain again for Saturday, with 50-50 chances for Sunday. Admittedly, we are not entirely comfortable with this outlook, as the models are not showing strong agreement, especially in terms of the timing of the rains for the two weekend days.

The NWS Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (NWS/HPC) is showing the potential for widespread rain totals of 1” to 2” over the next three to four days, with isolated totals of 3” or more.

Forecast rain totals through 6 p.m. Sunday from NOAA/HPC
 For some of you, that may be a little more rain than most of us really need right now, but the communities in the coastal parishes have been routinely short-changed in our recent run of rain events, so for many of them a run of 2” to 3” of rain in the coming few days would not be a bad thing.

We’ll see highs returning to the 70°s on Friday and Saturday, with an advancing front from the northwest on Saturday delivering cooler air by Sunday. Our daily forecasts from Sunday through mid-week call for highs in the 60°s -- still slightly above-average but much closer to the “climatological normals” for early February.

And if it’s early February ... okay ... now to the sillier side of weather! Yes, it’s Groundhog Day and Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil did indeed see his shadow, which means he predicts six more weeks of winter.

But dissatisfied with the opinion of a singular varmint from the North, the WAFB Storm Team went the extra mile on Thursday to get the collective wisdom of the four-legged forecasting domain. In the end, our survey included more than two-dozen furry forecasts, ranging from groundhogs, woodchucks and various other ground-huggers from across the U.S. right down to the Baton Rouge Zoo “town” of prairie dogs interviewed by WAFB’s Greg Meriwether.

Our list includes New Iberia’s own Pierre C. Shadeaux, Atlanta’s General Beauregard Lee, and Ohio’s Buckeye Chuck, to name a few. While years of experience like Phil’s are important in the weather forecasting game (just ask the venerable Mike Graham), youth and new perspectives have their place.

In the end, only two of Punxsutawney Phil’s fellow fur-casters agreed with his outlook: every other prognosticating mammal, marsupial and ring-tailed species called for an early spring, including Acadiana’s Pierre!

And given the rather mild winter thus far along with the extended-range climate projections for the coming weeks, the Storm Team is backing the critter-cast consensus!

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