Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Record Highs Possible Thursday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

We opened Ash Wednesday with a Dense Fog Advisory thanks to light winds and a moist air mass in place over the WAFB viewing area.  And it was “clouds a-plenty!” throughout the day with a few neighborhoods even getting a mid-morning sprinkle!
It looks like the clouds will stay with us tonight and into Thursday as well.  We also expect fog to re-develop later tonight, although we anticipate that tonight’s and tomorrow morning’s moderate winds (SW, 5-10 mph) should limit the extent of significant morning fog to wind-sheltered areas.

Our forecast for Thursday calls for a high of 82° at Metro Airport -- that would tie the record for February 23rd, a record standing since 1909!  If we get some significant breaks in the mid-day clouds, we could see a few Weather Watchers reach the mid 80°s.  But the warmth won’t be Thursday’s only weather story: look for sustained winds occasionally running in the ‘teens and 20s during Thursday afternoon, with gusts occasionally in the upper 20s to above 30 mph!  Those winds will also help keep many of us from reaching the mid 80°s.

Normal, forecast and record temps for Thursday in Baton Rouge.

The cool front we’ve been talking about for the past few days is still scheduled to arrive in the WAFB viewing area early Friday, but the models and guidance still are sending mixed signals.  The NWS Storm Prediction Center is maintaining a “SLIGHT RISK” for severe weather for our area from mid-to-late Thursday into Friday morning.  But we think that the ingredients for a stormy overnight and early morning seem to be on the wane based on a couple (but not all!) forecast computer models. 

As an example, Our in-house Titan9 model is barely even showing Friday’s front as much of a rain-maker!  We think our model is underplaying the frontal passage, but it is just one of the models that seems to be suggesting a “pass” on the severe weather threat.  While the air mass ahead of the advancing cool front will be moist and unstable, there may not be sufficient lift and upper-level support to generate a widespread storm event for our region. For now, we’ll keep rain chances at about 50% for the late Thursday/early Friday time frame and we’ll keep tabs on the models for any changes in Friday’s developing weather story.  We can’t rule out a few strong t-storms as yet, but the greater weather threat looks to be well to our north. 

What about the weekend?  You will definitely notice the cool-down after Friday’s front pushes through.  Look for lows near 40° for metro BR on both Saturday and Sunday morning.  Saturday should be a mainly-fair day, but a tad on the breezy-and-cool side with afternoon highs in the low 60°s.  Sunday afternoon will only be a couple of degrees warmer, and we’ll add in a very slight chance (at 20% or less) of afternoon showers.

The forecast for Monday through Wednesday of next week calls for a return to warmer weather, but is also looks rather unsettled, with scattered rains post for each day.

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