Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Drying Out, Warming Up

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Acadiana and the rest of South Louisiana began drying out today -- a welcomed, and in some cases, a much-needed reprieve from the stormy weather that extended from Sunday night into Monday night.  Most of our local WAFB Weather Watchers reported storm totals on the order of 1” to 2”, with a few getting upwards of nearly 3” of rain for the event -- a considerable amount of rain in its own right but a far cry from the 10” to 15”+ that swamped portions of Acadiana! Some of the more impressive final totals include 14.18" from a USGS gauge at Bayou Vermilion near Carencro, 13.21" from a weather observer in Carencro, and 8.03" in Butte La Rose.

So how long will the dry weather persist?  Our thinking is that while we could see a spotty shower or two pop-up on Titan9 Doppler radar just about any day this week, we’ll stay with a mainly-dry forecast right into the weekend.
The weather stories for the rest of the work week will be the potential for areas of dense morning fog and afternoon highs that climb to 80° or more -- about 8° to 10° above mid-March normals.  This week looks like it will be free of any frontal passages across the Deep South.  The Central Gulf Coast will be dominated by “Gulf Return flow” -- southeasterly and southerly winds bringing mild-to-warm and moist air off the Gulf into the Bayou State.  That steady inflow of Gulf air will be enough to keep morning minimums around 60° or more for metro BR (and warmer closer to the coast) as well as supply the moisture to feed the early morning fog.

As the weekend approaches, we’ll need to keep a watch on the possibility of increasing winds.  The synoptic outlook (the national forecasted weather pattern) heading into the weekend puts a large dome of high pressure along the Atlantic Seaboard while an extended frontal system mover through the Rockies towards the western Plains.  Such a set-up would promote an increase in the southerly flow off the Gulf into the central and eastern U.S. by Sunday and early next week.

And for you trivia buffs, earlier this month we noted that the 2011-2012 winter was among the ten warmest on record for the Baton Rouge area.  NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center just announced that the 2011-2012 ranks as the fourth “warmest” winter for the nation as a whole, based on records dating back to 1895 (117 winters).  For Louisiana, the winter ranked as the 15 “warmest” since 1895, and the “warmest” winter since 1998-1999.

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