Monday, February 6, 2012

Wave Clouds & The Week Ahead

By Steve Caparotta & Jay Grymes

Before we get to our local forecast, we start out with a look at some cool clouds spotted along the beaches of Panama City, FL on Sunday morning. The picture below was apparently taken by Panhandle Helicopter and shared online by Meteorologist Jim Loznicka of WJHG-TV in Panama City.

Jim offers some explanation in his blog here:

Judging from this one picture, it would appear there were some low clouds and fog at the surface of Panama Beach Sunday morning...likely representing light winds at ground-level. However, maybe a hundred feet up or so, the winds were likely higher, causing the clouds to 'topple' over the tops of the condo buildings.

There are some other things in play here, but the bottom line is that this type of cloud is typically created when there is a change in wind speed with height. The clouds also typically lie below a temperature inversion, whereby a layer of warmer air sits on top of cooler air closer to the ground, creating a 'lid' in the atmosphere.

Meteorolgist James Spann of ABC 33/40 in Birmingham posted this picture below of a wave cloud on his blog back in December:

Courtesy: James Spann /

You can see more great pictures in his blog entry here:

And back to our local weather....

We get a break from the wet weather this week ... and for most of us that will be MUCH appreciated! The other interesting piece of this week’s weather story is a turn to temperatures running closer to normal for early February, especially when one considers some of the 70°s and even 80°s that we’ve been seeing over the past two to three weeks!

We’ll also see periods of high clouds continuing to stream in from the west and southwest as the southern branch of the jet stream (or sub-tropical jet stream) over the coming days. So, as we saw today, there are likely to be some periods where skies are virtually clear and other times when the high cirrus clouds give a grey tint the sky.

We’re calling for a sun/cloud mix for both Tuesday and Wednesday, with a “mainly dry” front slipping through the state early Wednesday. Highs both days should reach the mid to upper 60°s with morning lows in the mid to upper 40°s. Wednesday’s front will mean a modest cooling for Thursday, with a high around 60° for Thursday afternoon.

Our next cool front arrives early on Saturday. We could see some spotty showers during the latter half of Friday -- ahead of Saturday’s front -- but the vast majority of us will stay dry and it currently looks like the weather will cooperate for Friday evening’s Artemis parade in downtown Baton Rouge. We’re going with a 20% chance of rain early Saturday as the front comes through, but as of now it looks like the rain should be outta’ here before Saturday’s parades, including Krewe Mystique de la Capitale (2PM, Downtown BR), Krewe of Denham Springs (3PM), and the Krewe of Orion (6:30PM, Downtown BR).

Be ready for cooler weather for Saturday afternoon, with highs in the 50°s, and we could see some low 30°s by Sunday morning!

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