Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Drying Out, Warming Up

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

We received a little good news from our friends at DEQ, as today’s metro Baton Rouge air quality appears to be topping out in the “Moderate” range (Code “Yellow”).  Yesterday, DEQ issued an “Ozone Action Day” for today -- maybe today’s combined efforts of everyone in the region to limit the release of ozone-producing compounds worked and helped to minimize the development of ground-level ozone!  In addition, earlier today DEQ was preparing for another “Ozone Action” declaration for Thursday, but as of this afternoon, that has also changed, with Thursday’s AQI forecast now calling for “Moderate” air quality for the region.
Isolated to scattered showers and t-storms did develop over portions of the WAFB viewing area on Wednesday, although Titan9 Doppler returns are clearly showing that most of WAFB neighborhoods were still dry as of 4PM.  The biggest action has been occurring closer to the coast, over and near Terrebonne Parish -- persistent thunderstorms have dumped upwards of as much as 2” to 3” of rain just west of Houma as of 4PM.
Doppler radar estimated rainfall for Wednesday. Upwards of 3 inches of rain was estimated near Houma.
Any additional rains that do develop over our region later today will fizzle out during the evening hours.
After today, the outlook remains mainly-dry through the weekend and into early next week.  Mid/upper-level ridging will take charge of the weather across the Gulf Coast and Southeast U.S., putting clamps on rain chances and aiding daytime heating through Sunday.  Along with the “dry” weather, the return of warmer-than-normal afternoon temperatures will be accompanied by a full-dose of Gulf humidity by week’s end. 
You may have already noticed a “warmer” feel to the air today . . . and our forecast calls for it to get warmer in the coming days, with afternoon highs in the upper 80°s to near 90°.  Factor in dewpoints in the mid to upper 60°s by the weekend and we’re talking Heat Index (‘feels like’) values in the mid 90°s for Saturday and Sunday.  “Mom, is the pool ready?”
We’ll re-introduce slight rain chances early next week -- maybe.
And speaking of rain chances, we wanted to take a moment to clear up the terminology association with rain chances. The National Weather Service actually has a long-ago established list of terms/phrases corresponding to specific rain chances. Unfortunately, even some weathercasters and meteorologists in the media seem to be a bit inconsistent about following this list even though it has long been widely accepted in the meteorology community.

One other important thing to note is that the chance of rain has no relation to the intensity or duration of rainfall. In other words, you can have a day with a low chance of rain, but a slow-moving storm could produce heavy rainfall for a prolonged period of time. 

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