Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rain Wednesday, Again For Weekend Parades?

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

The clouds and patchy fog exited most of the area early in the morning and the afternoon has been a beauty, although maybe not quite as warm as we expected.

Mainly clear skies this evening will give way to mostly cloudy skies by Wednesday’s sunrise, with morning lows running around 50° for metro Baton Rouge. But take note: you’ll need the umbrella by Wednesday afternoon. We’re expecting temps to climb into the 70°s during Wednesday afternoon as a warm front lifts to our north. This means that the WAFB viewing area will be in the “warm sector” of a storm complex, with our communities sitting east of an advancing cold front.

By “warm sector,” we mean that the air is warm and moist and usually rather unstable – for our region, “warm sector” air originates over the Gulf and moves northward. Unstability (unstable air) means that the air near the surface is primed to rise vertically and generate rain clouds and thunderstorms -- the greater the instability, the greater the threat for the potential for severe weather.

Scattered showers by or before Wednesday’s lunch hour will become rather widespread by the afternoon and into the evening, with thunderstorms on the increase during the latter half of the day as well. In fact, the NWS Storm Prediction Center (NWS/SPC) has most of Louisiana rated as under a “Slight Risk” for severe weather from Wednesday into Thursday morning as the unstable air is further energized by the approaching front to the west. We expect that front to be pushing through SE Louisiana during the early morning hours on Thursday, and as the front moves off to our east, rain chances during Thursday morning will decline.

The threat of severe weather on Wednesday serves as a reminder that we are approaching the peak of our severe weather season as we move from the late winter months into spring. A great way to stay informed and safe when severe weather threatens is to have a NOAA Weather Radio in your home.

At this time of the year a west-to-east moving front -- a cool or cold front -- usually means a noticeable drop in temperatures. But we’re not likely to notice much of a change in temps for Thursday as our current forecast calls for highs again in the 70°s for Thursday afternoon.

A modest cool-down comes by Friday, with highs topping out in the upper 60°s for many WAFB neighborhoods. But by the latter half of Friday, we bring rain chances back into the forecast.

We’ll need to watch this closely as we head into the big Mardi Gras weekend. For the time being, we’ll post rain chances at about 30% for Friday afternoon and evening, which could make things a little dicey for Friday night’s Southdowns Parade. With a little luck, the Friday night neighborhood frolicking will “roll” without a weather-hitch.

But an even bigger disappointment may be in the works for Saturday’s Spanish Town Parade.

Our Saturday outlook on Monday offered hopes of a mainly dry mid-day and afternoon for the parade, but the guidance as of Tuesday afternoon is far more gloomy for the latter half of the day. There’s still time to allow for adjustments for Saturday’s forecast as we progress through the work week, but as of today, Saturday is looking rather “wet” throughout, with rain possibly extending into early Sunday morning.

You can bet that we’ll be watching, because the WAFB Storm Team loves the parades of Carnival Season as much as you!

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