Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More Heat, Another 'Ozone Action Day'

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Wednesday continued our run of unusually high temperatures, although not quite what we saw with the 101° all-time record highs set on Monday and Tuesday. While Baton Rouge’s Metro Airport (BTR) fell a tad shy of 100° today, the trade-off was the higher humidity levels through the day, making it feel just as “hot” as the prior days.

We saw a return of southerly winds today, and that means more low-level Gulf moisture. The added humidity meant that BTR’s Heat Index reached 100° by 11AM and stayed through throughout the afternoon (and will do so into the early evening, at least). In addition, the added humidity was just enough to power a couple of thunderstorms over SE Louisiana. But for many of us, those showers would have been welcomed relief from the brutal afternoon heat.

Now that the low-level southerly winds have returned, we can expect them to remain in place throughout the rest of the week and weekend. As we saw on Wednesday, the more humid air will probably help keep daytime highs in the mid to upper 90°s rather than the triple-digits, but the heat will “feel” just about the same. And as occurred on Wednesday afternoon, we can’t rule out spotty t-showers - - some producing brief but very heavy localized downpours. You’ll note, however, that our forecast remains “mainly dry” through the weekend, with only slight rain chances returning during the early and middle part of next week.

T.D. Debby picked up a little forward speed earlier today and exited the Florida Peninsula before sunrise this morning, moving into the western Atlantic. While we thought Debby might re-intensify once she entered the Atlantic and moved over the Gulf Stream, strong westerly shear throughout the day has meant ‘her’ demise, and as of 4PM the National Hurricane Center has declared that Debby has lost her tropical characteristics, closing the books on the fourth storm of the season.

Finally, today marks the 55th anniversary of Hurricane Audrey's landfall in southwest Louisiana. Audrey is the 7th deadliest hurricane in U.S. history and 3rd deadliest for Louisiana, trailing Katrina and the 'Cheniere Caminada' hurricane of 1893. Audrey also still stands as the strongest June hurricane on record to strike the U.S.

And despite making landfall well west of Baton Rouge, Audrey produced a peak wind gust of 69 mph in the Capital City. That nearly matches the 70 mph peak gust of Andrew in 1992...a storm that tracked MUCH closer to Baton Rouge.

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