Monday, April 30, 2012

Staying Warm, Humid

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Monday’s high temperature of 89° for BR’s Metro Airport is not only the highest reading thus far this year, but stands as the ‘warmest’ daytime reading since October 16th of last year.  And today makes 22 days during April with highs at 80° or above for the airport.  That’s not a record for April, nor is April 2012’s average monthly temperature of 70°, but both are well above normal and continue the run of warmth that has dominated 2012 through the first four months of the year.  Indeed, the average temperature for January-through-April 2012 is 64° -- and that is an all-time high, at least for the period of 1930 to present!

Yes, it may be the last day of April, but it sure felt more like late May this afternoon, and the forecast through the week keeps temps running above-normal through the first week of May.

A few of you had a decent rain late Sunday, and while today remained dry, we expect isolated to scattered mainly-afternoon showers and t-storms to return for the latter half of the week and continue into the weekend.  For now we are keeping a “mainly dry” forecast for Tuesday, although a stray shower can’t be ruled out given the daytime heating expected and the fuel in the form of our moist, Gulf air mass.

A look at the final rain numbers for April shows most of us had below-normal rainfall, but Baton Rouge is actually running a bit of a surplus for the year thanks to relatively 'wet' months in February and March.

Now the rains this week won’t be frontal rains -- these rains will have the look of something a bit more summer-like, with the inbound flow off the Gulf thanks in part to the clockwise spin associated with a high pressure ridge along the Atlantic Coast. 

Wednesday’s current forecast calls for a 30% coverage for the WAFB viewing area, but we’ll have to re-evaluate that on Tuesday afternoon.  A (non-tropical) disturbance over southern Florida is forecasted to send some energy our way by mid-week.  Our in-house Titan9 PrecisionCast is rather aggressive with this disturbance and paints a fairly wet picture for our area by Wednesday, while other weather models are suggesting a lessened impact along the central Gulf Coast.  We should have a better idea by Tuesday afternoon, assuming that the various computer forecasts come to a better sense of agreement.

Titan9 PrecisionCast projection for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, painting a rather 'wet' picture for our area.

In the meantime -- if you haven’t already -- this week would be a good time to get your home’s A/C serviced! And the next time you pass by the store, pick up an extra bottle of sunscreen!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Staying Warm & Dry This Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

In our opinion, the best part of today’s weather forecast for the coming days is that we’ll stay dry right into the middle of next week, which means Mother Nature will be cooperating if you’re looking to enjoy the outdoors over the weekend.  But it will be warm, and with plenty of sunshine for Saturday and Sunday afternoons, it’s once again time to be thinking “sunscreen!”

The pressure gradient that has made for a string of windy days this week will relax a little over the weekend, but it will still be breezy enough to get the kites a’flying both Saturday and Sunday.
Remaining on the dry-side for the next several days may be good for outdoor fun, but it may also have some of you grumbling a little about our recent lack of rain.  After some very wet days at the beginning of April, many of us have gone quite dry during the past three weeks.  True, it hasn’t been “bone dry” -- Metro Airport has recorded about a third of an inch of rain since April 4th and we’ve seen nearly an inch of rain since then here at the WAFB studios.  But with persistently warmer-than-normal weather over the past few weeks, soils are a bit drier-than-normal for this time of year. 
No need for serious concern yet, but if the current weather pattern of “warm and dry” continues well into May, we could see an about-face and relatively quick return to the drought-like conditions that plagued much of the viewing area during the winter.  We’ll keep watching closely for you.
In the meantime, get ready for somewhat muggy morning starts with patchy wake-up fog and afternoons that will reach the mid and even the upper 80°s for several days to come. 
With the warm and moist air mass in place over the viewing area, we cannot say “no chance for a shower” over the coming days.  Still, based on the upper-level ridge overhead and the current weather outlook, there is very little chance of rain in your neighborhood through the middle of next week, and only a slight chance of rain on Thursday and Friday afternoons!
Gardener’s alert: you may want to consider breaking out the hose over the coming days!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Breezy & Warm Into the Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

The forecast for the next couple of days is simple: staying breezy and staying warm.  Morning starts will be in the 60°s for the next 7 days, at least, with patchy wake-up fog possible, especially over the weekend.  Afternoon highs will climb into the mid and upper 80°s for most of us over the next several days, continuing our 2012 trend of warmer-than-normal weather.
And you will notice the Gulf air mass as well, with somewhat muggy mornings and afternoons that may feel like 90° or more, especially in places where the winds are relatively light.  Yes indeed, summer is just around the corner, and if our 2012 trends continue for the next few weeks, our traditional South Louisiana “heat-n-humidity” may get here long before June!
Ridging aloft will continue to suppress cloud development in the afternoons -- we think that this will be particularly true for Saturday and Sunday when we are calling for mainly fair skies for the two afternoons.  But the low-level Gulf humidity we’re feeling will combine with overnight cooling to produce some low-level morning clouds and even some patchy fog.  But once the sun rises, the morning warm-up should break down the fog and clouds relatively quickly.
And the outlook remains mainly dry for the upcoming seven days.  Sure, we might see a brief, spotty afternoon shower or two during the afternoons next week, but for now the first real mention of rain doesn’t arrive until Thursday -- and that is a modest 20%!
So enjoy the dry albeit warm weather over the coming days. It’s looking good for Friday’s “Live After Five, “ the Louisiana Bicentennial celebration gets going in a big way downtown on Saturday, and don’t forget Saturday morning’s 2012 March of Dimes “March for Babies” -- come join 1000s from the greater Baton Rouge area, including several WAFB family members, in support of research for healthy babies and solutions to birth defects!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Warm, Muggy Days Ahead

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

As we expected for today: a little breezy, a little warmer, and a tad more humid than the past several days with a steady flow off the Gulf delivering more low-level moisture -- now get used to it!  Yes -- our run of cool spring weather has come to an end, and we’re jumping back into a prolonged run of above-normal daily temperatures.
For the weather-trivia lovers, we continue our unusually warm start to 2012.  We are currently on-track to set a record for the “warmest” first four months of any year (at least since 1930 based on available records from the LSU Climate Center).  True, we just enjoyed an 8-day run of cooler-than-normal weather, but that cool spell ended today.  And since the start of 2012, only roughly 1-in-4 of all of the days through today (April 25th, 115 days) have been “cooler-than-average.”  (An “average” year would be expected to have about half of all days cooler-than-normal and about half the days on the warm-side.)
Our breezy-to-windy weather will continue for another day or two thanks to the pressure gradient resulting from a broad zone of high pressure centered over the Florida Peninsula and an area of low pressure stretching across much of the U.S. Plains.  That set-up will maintain our south-to-southwest winds which means a steady inflow of Gulf moisture.   At the same time, a broad upper-air ridge overhead will help limit cloud development and add to the daily warming.  The combination of dewpoints in the 60°s and an abundance of sunshine will lead to morning starts in the 60°s and highs in the mid 80°s -- “feeling” like May has arrived a week early!
The good news is that we’re taking rain out of the weekend forecast.  In fact, the outlook remains mainly-dry through at least the middle of next week.  Now admittedly, with the Gulf humidity and the daytime heating we can’t promise a totally rain-free 7-day run, but any showers that do develop are likely to be very, very sparse and very short-lived.
So while it will be warm, we should have a couple of enjoyable “get outdoors!” days for the weekend!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Goodbye Record Lows...and Remembering the Amite-Purvis Tornado

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

It seems a just a little ironic that after a record-warm winter and early spring, we wait until late April for a cold snap with a record low for the morning sunrise, don’t you think?  And “snap” is the operative word as we say goodbye to this morning’s low in the 40°s -- in fact, there’s a pretty good chance we won’t see 40°s in Baton Rouge again until next fall!
Record low temperatures were set at Baton Rouge, Slidell, McComb and Gulfport.
The big dip in the jet stream that produced snows in parts of the nation’s Northeast and a late spring chill to much of the Southeast will be moving east, taking any chance for another record low with it.  In its place, a ridge of high pressure will be moving in from the west, and that means a warm-up for tomorrow, with morning lows in the 50°s for Wednesday and 60°s for Thursday!  Highs will jump right back into the 80°s for the rest of the week and through the weekend.
But the warmer weather comes with a long run of sunshine.  Our current forecast keeps us dry through Saturday, with only a slight chance (20%) of rain for Sunday: all in all, a “mainly dry” weekend ahead.
Wednesday is shaping up to be a breezy, if not downright windy day, with the breezes hanging around into Thursday as well.  At the same time, while we warm thanks to ridging aloft, the winds will shift around to a more southerly direction, which will mean a rapid return of Gulf moisture.  Although our forecast is calling for highs generally in the mid 80°s over the coming days, by week’s end a couple of WAFB Weather Watchers likely will see highs climb into the upper 80°s.
The nation’s “wet weather” action will remain to our north through the rest of the workweek.  By Friday, however, a storm system will be getting organized in the Southern Plains, with a cold front extending southward into Texas.  The current thinking is that this storm complex will slowly work to the east, with the cool front sagging into northern and western Louisiana by Sunday.  With little in the way of serious dynamics anticipated, this relatively weak frontal system will only generate a few showers, with the front easing southward and into the coastal waters by Monday.
Slightly cooler and much drier air is expected for Monday into Tuesday.
Finally, today marks the anniversary of not only one of the deadliest tornadoes on record for Louisiana, but one of the deadliest on record for the entire U.S. On April 24, 1908, a tornado first touched down in the community of Weiss in northwest Livingston Parish. The tornado killed 46 people in Louisiana and injured over 100 before tracking into Mississippi. The worst of the damage was in Amite, where the tornado was reportedly over 2 miles wide, resulting in 29 deaths and 60 injuries. The casualty numbers were even higher in Mississippi, particularly in Lamar County and the community of Purvis, where 60 people were killed and 391 were injured.

The picture below reportedly shows the damage in Amite produced by the 1908 tornado.

One other interesting note on the Amite-Purvis tornado is that the summary of the event in Louisiana was written by Dr. Issac Cline in the publication "Monthly Weather Review". Dr. Cline is best known as the forecaster on duty in Galveston, TX when a powerful hurricane stuck in 1900 and thousands drowned in the storm surge. He's the subject of the book titled, "Issac's Storm". Below is a snapshot of Dr. Cline's report. You can read the full report on the Louisiana damage here and the Mississippi damage here

Monday, April 23, 2012

Record Lows Tuesday?

Wow…what a gorgeous run of weather over the last couple of days!

Most of us have been able to give the A/C a break today, with daytime temps struggling to reach 70° this afternoon. And you’ll certainly want to make sure it’s off before you go to bed tonight, with record lows possible on Tuesday morning! That’s right, record lows! We’re forecasting 44° for a morning start in Baton Rouge, which would surpass the record for the date of 45° last set in 2005.

Enjoy this late-April cool-down while it lasts, because a significant warm-up will take place rather quickly through the remainder of the week. Great weather continues for at least one more day on Tuesday. After our chilly start in the 40°s, highs will rebound into the mid 70°s under plenty of sunshine.

A shift in the large-scale weather pattern across the nation will result in our warm-up for the mid to latter portion of the week. A large upper-level trough currently resides along the East Coast, with a storm system dumping some significant snows in portions of the Northeast. We’re on the backside of this trough, where a northwest flow is helping to pump relatively cool and dry air into the region. However, this trough will quickly lift out over the next couple of days, being replaced an upper-level ridge currently centered out to our west. These ‘ridges’ generally mean warm and mainly dry weather and that’s what we expect from Wednesday into the weekend.

Morning lows will climb from the 40°s tomorrow to the upper 50°s Wednesday to the mid 60°s for the remainder of the week. After a day in the mid 70°s on Tuesday, look for highs to soar into the low to mid 80°s for the remainder of the week.

It looks as though our next chance of rain may come Sunday into Monday as a cool front attempts to approach from the north. It remains to be seen whether this front will actually push through the area, but we’ll at least put the mention of a few showers and t-storms in the forecast with its approach.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Showers to Start Saturday

As promised, we got to enjoy one more day of nice weather. Most WAFB neighborhoods woke to temps in the mid to upper 50°s, with afternoon highs ranging from the upper 70°s to lower 80°s under partly cloudy skies.

As of 6 p.m., widespread shower and t-storm activity extends from NW Louisiana into eastern Texas along an eastward-moving cool front. While current radar views look rather ominous, we expect the rains to weaken as they approach from the west after dark this evening. That being said, scattered showers and a few t-storms could still survive the journey into portions of the WAFB viewing area before midnight.

Scattered showers and isolated t-storms will remain possible during the overnight hours as that cool front moves through and low pressure cranks up in the northern Gulf. The fact that the low is expected to develop offshore is actually good news for most of us. That should serve to keep the focus for the heaviest rains out in the Gulf, with a few heavy downpours right along the coast.

Titan9 RPM model projection for 7 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Any showers should diminish into the afternoon, giving way to breezy and cooler conditions. Daytime temps won’t get out of the 60°s for most of us.

Sunshine is back on Sunday just in time for the Earth Day festivities in downtown Baton Rouge. Temps will likely be in the lower 70°s when the event kicks off at Noon and climb into the mid to upper 70°s during the mid to late afternoon hours. Winds will continue to be rather gusty as well, although they should settle down a bit as the day wears on.

We’ll see a reinforcing shot of cool air arriving by late Sunday, resulting in a somewhat cool start to the workweek. After a morning start in the lower 50°s, Monday’s highs are only expected to reach the lower 70°s.

We’re keeping the forecast mainly dry from Sunday through Thursday, with isolated showers possible by next Friday.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

One More Nice Day

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

If only…

If only we could enjoy weather like this year-round. If only we could keep this weather around into the weekend. No such luck, friends!

Let’s start with some good news first…we will actually enjoy another nice day of weather to close out the workweek on Friday. Look for another comfortably cool start with temps in the mid 50°s, but afternoon highs will climb into the lower 80°s under partly cloudy skies. Take the opportunity to enjoy Friday’s weather by heading to Live After Five downtown at the new Town Square on North Boulevard. It should be dry as the band ‘Stormy’ takes the stage, with temps in the lower 80°s falling into the mid 70°s.

It’s late Friday night into the first half of Saturday when our biggest weather problems are expected. A cool front, along with an area of low pressure forming near our coastline will lead to good rain chances starting out on Saturday. The small bit of good news here is that it now looks like most of the heavier rains should stay offshore or right along the coast. But any morning plans you have on Saturday will likely include some raindrops.

Showers should gradually diminish during the afternoon hours on Saturday, with breezy and somewhat cooler temps settling in. Highs are expected to top out near 70° on Saturday, but most of the day will be spent in the 60°s. Toss in a stiff northerly breeze on the backside of the lower pressure center in the Gulf and you may actually need a jacket if venturing out during the evening hours.

Sunshine returns for the second half of the weekend and the Louisiana Earth Day festivities in downtown Baton Rouge. Morning temps will likely bottom out near 50°, with afternoon highs topping out in the mid 70°s. Gusty winds will persist into Sunday, so anyone who may have to put up a tent or canopy for Earth Day should have some heavy-duty anchors ready!

And the nice weather that begins on Sunday looks to continue through much of next week! Temperatures will gradually warm-up, but we’ve got no mention of rain through Thursday at this point.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Another Beauty Thursday!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Yep -- now THAT’s more like it!  How about that lovely Wednesday weather -- if only we could enjoy a nice week-long run of days like today!  In fact, if this weather would just hold through the coming weekend, we’d all be smiling and whistling happy tunes!
But all good things must end, and unfortunately, this great weather will fade just as the weekend gets here.
For now, Thursday looks great, and the weather holds up for another nice Friday afternoon and downtown Live After Five, but the weather “heads south” (as they say) late Friday and into Saturday. 

A storm system currently over the northwestern quarter of the U.S. will move into the Plains on Thursday and Friday and become better organized, picking up additional moisture as well.  By late Friday, the storm system will sling a cold front across Texas as it advances to the east, reaching the TX/LA state line during the latter half of the day.
For now, it looks like the front and its associated stormy weather doesn’t get into the WAFB area until very late Friday or early Saturday, but all indications are that this will be a fairly wet event, with WAFB rainfall totals likely to run between 0.5” and 1.5” before the rains exit our region.
The tougher question for now is the timing through the day on Saturday.  Differences are not that significant in terms of when the wet weather arrives, but we are getting mixed signals as to how long the front and lingering rains will remain in the area before moving off to the east?  Our in-house Titan9 PrecisionCast suggests that most of the rain could be over by around mid-day on Saturday.  On the other hand, other reliable weather forecast models keep the rains in the area through much or most of the day on Saturday, with at least one model hinting at rain late into the night.
At this point, we’re leaning towards a more prolonged event for Saturday, with the rains keeping daytime temps in the 60°s -- we think you should plan on a cool, damp Saturday.  The heavier rains will likely end before lunchtime, but lingering light rains and clouds will make the day feel even cooler than the thermometer tells us.
We get a decent recovery for Sunday, however, with fair skies expected for Sunday afternoon -- just in time for Baton Rouge’s downtown Earth Day festivities!  As mentioned above, Sunday may not start out so nice, with early morning clouds and even a slight chance of an early morning sprinkle or two.  But all’s well by mid-day as skies clear and highs climb into the low to mid 70°s for the afternoon.

In the extended outlook, sunshine rules for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, with afternoon highs back in the 80°s by or before mid-week.  Yep -- it figures!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Much Nicer Wednesday!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

While most of the Baton Rouge metro area has ‘escaped’ with modest rain totals over the course of the past 24 hours, we’ve seen some 3” to 5” pockets of rain to the east, southeast and south of greater BR.  Be aware that the rains aren’t over just yet -- we could still see some generally-light showers with a rumble or two of thunder to BR’s east and northeast, but the flood threat for most of us has passed, and cooler and drier air will be working into the area through the evening and overnight.

48-hour estimated rainfall ending at 4:25 PM Tuesday.
Here comes the good stuff: skies will be clearing overnight with a Wednesday wake-up in the low to mid 50°s for metro BR.  Wednesday afternoon will be a beauty -- less humid, a tad warmer and sunny skies for Wednesday with highs in the upper 70°s.  Thursday’s another goodie as well, with sun-up temps in the upper 50°s and afternoon highs in the low 80°s under mostly sunny skies.

It’s the Friday through Sunday outlook that may be the real disappointment in our forecast.  Yesterday (Monday) we were thinking that most of the wet weather would arrive late Friday and get out of the way by mid-day Saturday.  As of today, the timing has been pushed back several hours -- and more problematic -- the system looks like it will be much slower to clear the region.  So now we are thinking a mainly-dry afternoon and evening for Friday, but Saturday could be “on the wet side” all day long, with rains even extending into the first part of Sunday before finally clearing out.

We’ll keep a close watch on this outlook in the coming days.  With some luck, the timing and speed of the system may change and leave us with a better weekend forecast.  As of today, however, Saturday’s forecast is not very promising for outdoor fun.

Skies should be clearing Sunday, and next Monday and Tuesday should be “weather winners.”

Monday, April 16, 2012

Rains Returning Tonight

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

We don’t expect an all-night-then-all-day rain. Like we saw this afternoon, there will be periods of rain with periods of relative quiet. But a slow-moving front draped across Louisiana and extending out into the Gulf will get plenty of Gulf moisture along with some upper-level support to make for a very wet 24 hours or more.

Radar snapshot from 8:20 p.m. Monday showing widespread shower and t-storm activity returning from the west.
How wet? Models are pointing to widespread 1” to 2”-plus totals, with isolated pockets of 3” or more before all is said and done late Tuesday. In fact, Doppler radar estimates are already showing some 2” and 3”+ bull’s eyes to Baton Rouge’s east and southeast!

While this could prompt some localized flooding -- we are not anticipating any widespread severe weather. True, some t-storms over the course of the next day could be on the strong side and one or two might attain “severe” intensity, but the current set-up does not support a prolonged or frequent outbreak of warnings for our viewing area.

The payoff comes with great weather days for Wednesday and Thursday, with the extended range outlook bringing another spring season cool front into our region late Friday into Saturday. Our thinking at this point is that rains arrive late on Friday and most are out of the way by mid-morning Saturday, leaving us with a good looking Saturday afternoon and a very pleasant Sunday!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Enjoy the Weekend!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Although we’ve seen a couple of showers on Titan9 Doppler today, mainly to our west, it looks like we are done with ‘wet’ weather for a while -- and just in time for the weekend!
The slow-moving front that helped spawn Wednesday’s active storms has sagged southward far enough to allow some drier air to filter into the WAFB area -- you likely noticed the cool start to the day with lows in the 50°s and the less-humid feel to our air through the afternoon.  Even so, there was just enough moisture hanging around, along with daytime heating, to kick-off a shower or two.
In the short term, we can’t entirely rule out a rogue shower on Friday afternoon, but the weather scenario we expect really doesn’t offer much of any chance for an afternoon shower in our viewing area.  And Saturday and Sunday look even “drier,” so put away the umbrella and get ready for some warm but enjoyable weekend days.
And what a local line-up this weekend: the spring’s first “Live After Five” gets rolling on Friday at 5PM, the downtown Baton Rouge Blues Fest kicks-off at 11:30AM on Saturday, and the annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival opens Friday and runs right through Sunday!

We’re expecting dry but breezy days for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  With surface high pressure to our east and low pressure to our west, we’ll get a fairly steady return flow going -- winds from the southeast and south off the Gulf.  Sustained winds can be expected to occasionally run in the 10-15 mph range with the pressure pattern set-up.  Nothing too strong, just some good kite-flying weather!
During our on-air weathercasts this week, we’ve also been talking about the upper-level ridge over the west-central U.S. that has been slowly working eastward.  As the ridge becomes centered over the Mississippi and Ohio valleys during the next few days, it will take command of our local weather and keep us dry.  Remember, ridges generally promote sinking air at the upper levels, and that sinking creates a “lid” on the atmosphere that inhibits the vertical development of clouds -- and vertical development is necessary for a cloud to ‘grow’ into a rainmaker.
The ridge will not only keep us fair and on the warm side through the weekend -- with highs in the mid 80°s for many of us on Saturday and Sunday -- but it will also serve as a “blocking” mechanism that will keep a storm system locked in place over the Plains until the start of next week.  By late Sunday into Monday, however, the upper-level ridge shifts farther to the east, opening the door for the Plains system to also advance eastward. 
Based on the current outlook, a cool front linked to the Plains storm will approach the Louisiana state line on Monday and begin moving into the WAFB viewing area from the west by the early part of Tuesday -- we’re anticipating good rain chances with that system.
But once the front exits to the east, the extended outlook is promising for the latter part of the work week and into NEXT weekend!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Iso'd Showers, Less Humid Thursday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Two bands of strong to occasionally-severe t-storms slid southward from near the LA/MS line across portions of the western and central Florida Parishes during the afternoon. The first wave was the more intense of the two, generating considerable cloud-to-ground lightning, some gusting winds and pockets of “pea” to “nickel” sized hail as it approached the I-12. That first band prompted the NWS to issue two Severe T-Storm Warnings earlier in the afternoon for areas east of the greater BR metro area. The second storm cluster tracked slightly farther to the west, eventually impacting portions of eastern and southern EBR Parish and on into northern Ascension.
Picture of hail in the Watson/Walker area sent into
Today’s storms were mainly the result of an unstable air mass interacting with a nearly stationary frontal boundary draped across portions of south Louisiana. That front will continue to sag ever-so-slowly southward this evening and through the day on Thursday, serving as a regional focus for t-showers and keeping a slight chance of rain in the Thursday forecast.
Titan9 RPM model projection for 4 PM Thursday showing isolated showers and storms along a stalled front.
The WAFB area will stay in the “warm sector” with southeasterly flow bringing moisture off the Gulf for Friday and right through the weekend, while ridging takes control aloft. We’ll put spotty showers in the Friday afternoon forecast, but our outlook for the weekend calls for mainly dry weather for both Saturday and Sunday.
The mid-/upper-level ridge will keep a storm system and trailing cold front in the Southern Plains locked-up to our west through Monday. By late Monday, the ridge will weaken and retreat far enough to the east to allow the Plains system to advance, delivering a good chance for rain by Tuesday.

Don’t forget: the first of this spring's “Live After Five” series begins this Friday at 5PM in downtown Baton Rouge at the city’s all-new open venue at Galvez Plaza ... and the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival kicks-off its annual three-day run on Friday as well!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Few Storms Possible Wednesday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

And the 80°s just keep on coming, like a retro radio station!  Today makes 9 of 10 April days with highs of 80° or more ... and 26 of the past 30 days.  Each and every day over the past 30 days has averaged above-normal in terms of daily average temperatures!  Little wonder the A/Cs are working overtime!

Our “warmer-than-normal” trend looks to remain the rule rather than the exception over the coming seven days.  A slow-moving front will sag southward into our viewing area later tonight and hang around the region through much or all of Wednesday before finally drifting farther to the south and out over the Gulf sometime on Thursday. 

Usually at this time of year, a front in the vicinity would mean good rain chances. With this go-around, however, relatively weak mid/upper dynamics, a northwesterly flow aloft and a lack of significant moisture will mean that Wednesday’s front will only generate isolated rains through the day -- we’re going with just a 20% rain chance.

Titan9 RPM model projection showing only isolated showers along a front in south Louisiana as of 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

That said, we’ll have to keep an eye on Titan9 Doppler through the day, as any thunderstorms that do spring up could become strong.  As we’ve seen in the past, t-storms that move from north-to-south frequently have a higher potential for lightning and hail. But for most of us, it looks like the day will be little more than a mix of sun and clouds with highs returning again into the low 80°s.  As we’ve seen the past couple of mornings, patchy fog could develop by Wednesday’s sunrise, but we don’t anticipate areas of fog that will be a problem for the morning commute.

Our Thursday forecast keeps highs in the upper 70°s, if only for one day.  The question for Thursday’s forecast will be “how far south does the front migrate before mid-day?”  If the front stays close to the coast during Thursday, that might be sufficient to spawn a couple of showers; if the front drifts out farther into the northern Gulf, that will keep the day dry.  For forecasting purposes, we’ll split the difference for now and go with “spotty” showers for Thursday.

Friday looks like a “weather winner” and we’re no going with a mainly dry forecast for the weekend: partly cloudy and mild for Saturday and partly cloudy and warm and with spotty afternoon showers for Sunday.

As an early reminder, the spring series of "Live After Five" kicks off this Friday in downtown Baton Rouge. The concerts will return to North Boulevard, but will be in the newly-constructed Town Square. Friday's weather looks just about perfect!

It also looks like a great forecast for the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival -- Friday through Sunday!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Chances of Rain This Week?

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Just like the weekend, Monday proved to be another weather winner. So the question is simple: how long can this great stuff last?

Plan on fair skies overnight with patches of mainly light fog to begin Tuesday -- but the fog shouldn’t be any bother for the morning commute. Sunrise temps will be in the upper 50°s to near 60° for metro BR, with skies becoming partly cloudy as the day wears on.

One very weak front currently draped over our area will essentially fizzle out and dissipate overnight, with a second front currently stretched across Oklahoma and Arkansas slowly sagging southward to the Gulf Coast by Wednesday.

We’re bringing a slight chance of rain into Tuesday’s afternoon forecast as the second front approaches the viewing area from the north -- look for a high on Tuesday in the low to mid 80°s.

Normally such a set-up would be a better rain-maker, but the approaching front will lack the mid- to upper-level support and lift to get the rains going even with the daytime heating. Now we do point out that as of earlier today, the NWS Storm Prediction Center (NWS/SPC) has much of the WAFB viewing area posted under a “Slight Risk” for severe weather on Tuesday, but we suspect that the NWS/SPC experts may remove that threat by tomorrow morning.

The slow-moving front will still be in the vicinity for Wednesday, helping to maintain slight rain chances (20% to 30%) for Wednesday afternoon. And with that front still “hanging around” the Gulf Coast region, we’ll keep a 20% rain chance in the forecast for Thursday as well -- at least for now.

Titan9 RPM model projection for 3 p.m. on Wednesday showing scattered showers and t-storms along a weak cool front.
Friday and Saturday should be good weather days as mid-/upper-level ridging becomes well established across the southeastern quarter of the nation. In the extended, we have a 20% rain chance for Sunday afternoon, with better rain chances for next Monday as a storm system in the Southern Plains makes its approach.

So all-in-all, no “wash outs” ahead this week and a good looking end to the work week and weekend ahead!

Finally, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) announced today that March 2012 was the warmest on record for the contiguous U.S. ('lower 48'). The graphic below shows 25 states that recorded their record warmest March this year.

States in red recorded their warmest March on record in 2012 (118 years of records).
In total, more than 15,000 record highs and record warm minimums (record warm low temps) were set during the month. NOAA produced the animation below showing the progression of records through the month.

Here in Louisiana, March 2012 goes down as our 3rd warmest on record in 118 years of record keeping. Interestingly, it also goes down as Louisiana's 8th wettest March on record -- something you might not expect given the record warmth. However, remember that we had a few huge rain events in southern parts of the state that probably account for a large part of that. In other words, it didn't rain the entire month, but when it did, it came down in buckets.

You can read more from NOAA at the following link:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Beautiful Easter Weekend!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Yep – how about today’s weather?  Now that’s more like it!  Did you enjoy that morning start with sun-up temps in the low to mid 50°s?  And throughout the day, no one could complain about the blue skies and low humidity on this fine-looking Good Friday!

What if you didn’t get a chance to enjoy Friday’s weather?  No problem, because we’ve got a repeat performance on tap for Saturday!  In fact, the entire weekend is shaping up to be a real winner weatherwise.

Surface high pressure will ridge southward out of the Great Lakes and extend all the way to the Gulf Coast, keeping our dewpoints (humidity) on the low side into Saturday.  Heading into Easter Sunday, the high-pressure ridge will slip eastward while a cold front develops along the lee-side (east) of the Rockies and heads towards the Central and Southern Plains.

Look for morning lows for both Saturday and Sunday in the 50°s, with highs in the low 80°s.  We could see a few fair-weather clouds on Saturday, so we’ll call that a mostly-sunny day.  By Sunday, we’ll start getting a little ‘return flow’ going -- flow off the Gulf -- bringing back a little moisture and taking us to partly cloudy skies for Sunday afternoon.  But even then, Easter Sunday will be a very enjoyable day: comfortably warm but still not particularly humid.

We’ll bring a slight chance of rain into the forecast for Monday and Tuesday, with fair and mild weather returning for Wednesday.  For now, we are putting a 30% rain chance into the extended forecast for Friday.

Enjoy the Easter Weekend!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Vivid lightning, winds gusting above 50 mph, pockets of hail and heavy downpours prompted a number of Severe Thunderstorm Warnings between midnight and 7:00AM.  In fact, lightning was the cause of at least two house fires in the Baton Rouge area and numerous power outages.  Given the lightning activity we were tracking during the overnight and early morning hours, it is somewhat surprising that there weren’t many more lightning-related incidents!

Radar image from 4:30 a.m. Wednesday with lightning strikes overlaid. Nearly 3,300 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes were detected in a 15-minute period over south Louisiana...translating into a rate of more than 13,000 strikes per hour!

But with the wave of south-bound traveling storms pushing through the viewing area early in the day, those storms reduced the overall degree of instability across the region.  Remember, the greater the level of instability, the more likely we are to have showers and storms develop.  Instability is enhanced by daytime heating, but the cloud deck over the region through the morning and into the afternoon helped to slow the afternoon heating, keeping many of us out of the 80°s for the first time in nearly two weeks.
The result: a relatively quiet Wednesday afternoon and early evening.
But we still have a cool front to get through the region, and that front will be sufficient tonight to help produce lift - - and lift is another indicator of instability.  In addition, as the air aloft cools later tonight, the temperature difference between the relatively warm low levels and the cooled upper levels enhances lift.  The bottom line: we anticipate another round of showers and t-storms overnight and into the early hours of Thursday - - for now, we’re posting a 40% to 50% chance of rain for your backyard.  Storms along the Texas coastline this afternoon could spread in our direction late tonight.
4:35 PM Wednesday radar image showing storms along the Texas coastline that could build in our direction later tonight.
We don’t think that this next round of storms will be widespread nor as ‘energized’ as those storm clusters that paraded through our viewing area last night and early this morning.  That said, the NWS Storm Prediction Center has all of our viewing area - - in fact, all of the Bayou State - - included under a ‘Slight Risk’ for severe weather from Wednesday afternoon into early Thursday morning. Additionally, the National Weather Service has extended the Flash Flood Watch through 7 a.m. on Thursday.

We expect any serious storms to be through our area by the early morning, but that could include the morning commute, especially for WAFB communities east and south of the BR metro area.  By lunchtime, most if not all of the rains are out of here, with clearing expected during the latter half of the day.
Then comes the pay-off for our mid-week storms:  sunny skies, a little cooler and much less humid for Friday and Saturday, and a good looking weather day ahead for Easter Sunday as well!
And a final note...the forecast team led by Dr. Philip Klotbach and Dr. William Gray of Colorado State released their forecast today for the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season. The researchers are calling for a slightly below-average season, citing recent cooling of waters in the Atlantic and the potential development of an El Nino this summer (both negating factors for Atlantic storm development). However, as we always say, remember it only takes one storm hitting your area to make it an 'active' season.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More Storms Possible

What a rocky start to the workweek on Monday! Widespread storms pelted the area with heavy rains, hail, gusty winds and frequent lightning.

Reports of hail, wind damage, and tornadoes around the region from Monday into early Tuesday morning.

Additionally, radar estimates from Monday show some areas may have picked up as much as 3” to 5” of rain!

Fortunately, we’re off to a quiet start this morning, but storms are expected to return for some of us by the afternoon. We don’t see an approaching disturbance to trigger widespread storms like yesterday, but we’re still looking for a 40% to 50% chance of showers and t-storms later today. A few strong to severe storms with hail and damaging winds will be possible.

Rain chances will remain elevated Wednesday into at least the first half of Thursday as a cool front slowly approaches from the west. We’ll call for a 50/50 chance of showers and t-storms through Thursday morning, with the potential for some stronger storms persisting. Rains should finally come to an end by late Thursday as the front slides to our east.

Drier and slightly cooler weather will settle in for Easter weekend in the wake of the front. Morning temps will range from the upper 50°s to lower 60°s over the weekend, with highs generally in the lower 80°s. We’re now keeping the forecast dry for Easter Sunday.

Rain chances return to the forecast early next week as another cool front impacts the area.