Thursday, February 28, 2013

Even Colder into the Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

The high clouds this afternoon were considerably thicker than we had expected for much of south Louisiana.  While they weren’t a rain threat, they certainly managed to block the sunshine -- and that meant a cooler day than expected for most WAFB neighborhoods!
Satellite trends suggest that a consistent high-cloud deck will stay with us through the late afternoon and evening, keeping things on the cool side even for late February.  By Friday morning, many of us will be down in the mid 30°s, with a light brief freeze possible along and north of the LA/MS state line.
Out forecast stays rain-free into the early part of next week, with “COLD!” being the main weather theme through the weekend.  We expect partly cloudy skies for Friday, with fair to mostly-sunny skies for Saturday and Sunday.  But we’re getting a shot of cooler air today and tonight, followed by another dose of Canadian air tomorrow.
For the BR metro area, our forecast calls for lows near freezing on Saturday morning and below-freezing for early Sunday!  Lows will drop to the mid 30°s for Monday morning.

Keep in mind, WAFB communities north and east of Baton Rouge can expect even lower temps, with some of those neighborhoods dipping to or below freezing for each of the next four mornings.
Fortunately, none of these freezes will be prolonged events -- most lasting just a couple of hours at most.  Frankly, we don’t think any of the freezes will be “pipe-wrappers” for anyone in the WAFB viewing area.  But don’t forget the pets -- and some of the plants have been fooled by our mild winter and are a little ahead of their normal blooming schedule.  You might want to consider ways to protect the early buds, especially for the “prized” landscaping.
We’ve talked about the record-setting winter rains, thanks to three straight months of above-average rainfall.  We’ve also talked about the unusually mild winter, at least in terms of the low number of freeze events.  Baton Rouge, for example, has had only 6 “freeze days” this winter, compared to a long-term average of roughly 20 “freeze days” per winter.

Because of that, some folks are asking about the “big chill” this weekend.  For them, we offer this reminder about spring freezes:
On average, there is still a 75% to 80% chance of a freeze after March 1 for communities along and north of the LA/MS state line, with a 50-50 chance even as of mid-March.  For metro Baton Rouge, there is about still a 40% chance of another freeze, on average, after March 1, but those chances do drop off quickly, down to about 20% after March 10.
The bottom line: while this weekend freeze to open March seems out of character based on the pattern of the past few months, it is not all that unusual.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Turning Cooler into the Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

** The International Space Station (ISS) will make another “fly-by” appearance this evening -- the ISS’s visible track over WAFB Country will last roughly 6 minutes, beginning at about 6:50pm.  The path will start along the northwestern horizon and pass almost overhead as it heads towards the southeastern horizon. **

Highs made it up to around 70° for many WAFB neighborhoods under the sunshine and blue skies.  We’re expecting mainly fair skies through the evening and overnight with a dose of cooler air sliding into the lower Mississippi Valley.  That should allow Thursday morning lows to dip to around 40° for metro BR, with some WAFB communities north and east of the Capital City slipping into the 30°s for their Thursday morning sunrise.
So let’s cover the good news first: we’ll stay dry through the rest of the work week and the weekend.  In fact, between now and next Wednesday, we are currently calling for seven mainly dry days, with just a very slight chance of rain (20%) next Tuesday.

Plan on partly cloudy skies for Thursday afternoon with highs only reaching about 60°F.  And Thursday begins a run of cooler weather that will last through the weekend.  Lows for Friday morning will drop into the mid to upper 30°s for metro Baton Rouge, with highs topping out in the upper 50°s that afternoon.
As we go into the weekend, it will turn even cooler thanks to a reinforcing surge of Canadian air.  Highs for Saturday and Sunday may struggle to get to the low to mid 50°s.  In fact, we could be setting the stage for some of the coldest air this season. 
We mentioned last night that Baton Rouge/Metro Airport has recorded just 6 “freeze days” so far this winter, ranking 2nd among the fewest freezes for any winter (since 1930).  We did dip to 28° on December 30th, but have not slipped below 30° on any other day this winter season.  (At least not yet!)
At this point, we’re posting a Saturday morning Baton Rouge low just a tad above freezing (34°) with a light freeze (31°) for Sunday morning, plus a third chiller for Monday’s start (33°).  As you can see, just a degree or two could be all the difference between one, two or even three morning freezes for the ‘Red Stick.’  And many neighborhoods near, north and east of BR can expect a light freeze for all three mornings!
After a chilly weekend to open the month of March, the weather should start to warm  by Monday afternoon -- in fact, we’ve got highs climbing back to around 70° by next Tuesday. 
Yep -- say “Hello!” to Louisiana winter weather!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Wet and Mild Winter

- Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta
- Feb 26, 2013

Our forecast remains a “dry” one through the weekend and into next week, but as we’ve mentioned, most of the upcoming rain-free days will be on the “cool side” even by late February and early March standards.
A weak, low pressure system will slide through the viewing area tomorrow afternoon and early evening. At most it may bring some clouds, but those clear out during the overnight into Thursday morning. We’ll get one more mild day, with highs on Wednesday in the upper 60°s to near 70°, but it turns cooler for Thursday, with highs for most of the WAFB viewing area only reaching the upper 50°s to low 60°s.
It will stay cool through the weekend, with our current forecast keeping highs for most of us in the 50°s through Sunday -- afternoon temps running about 10° or more below the norms.
So maybe the biggest weather question over the next several days is, “Just how cold will the weekend morning’s get?”
We know that we’ll get another dose of chilly continental air from Friday into Saturday. That not only keeps the daylight hours cool over the weekend, but will push lows well down into the 30°s for Saturday and Sunday mornings. For now, Sunday morning looks to be the coldest of the two, with low 30°s likely for metro BR and even lower temps north and east of the Capital City. In fact, some of our “northern” viewers near the LA/MS state line could even get close to a freeze for Friday morning, with a freeze for Saturday’s sunrise and lows in the upper 20°s by Sunday morning!
Another freeze? Well, truth is that we’ve been spoiled this winter in terms of temperatures. For Metro Airport, we had just one freeze in November, four freezes in December, a somewhat rare “freeze free” January.  February will end "quiet" too, with just one brief, light freeze this month (Feb 17).
That’s only 6 freezes this winter -- compared to an “average” of about 20 or more freezes each winter for Baton Rouge.
In fact, a Baton Rouge winter with just 6 freezes would tie the 1949-50 and 1930-31 winters for the second “fewest” freezes since at least 1930!   So what winter had the fewest freezes ever? The 1931-32 winter, with just three freezes days. (I’ll bet the mosquitoes were huge that spring!)
And our Baton Rouge statistics tell us that, on average, there is a 4-in-10 chance of a freeze on or after March 1st. From what we see for the weekend, it looks like we’ll add to our count of six winter freezes by at least one day, possibly two.
Besides, even if we drop below freezing over the weekend, these won’t be long or ‘hard’ freezes ... and with a March outlook that calls for a normal-to-warm month ahead, this may be our last chance for a taste of winter chill.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Rains Diminishing Saturday AM

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Although we did have a few showers and pockets of storms in the region today, our Friday weather proved to be a little drier than we expected -- no complaints there, we’ll bet?
The clouds stay with us through the night, and we could still see a few passing (mainly-light) showers overnight into the early hours Saturday, but we’re just about done with the significant rains, at least for the short term.  Expect mostly cloudy to cloudy skies early Saturday, but we hope to see at least a little sunshine by the afternoon -- maybe not the prettiest of days, but a big improvement over Thursday and Friday.  And just in time too!
Sunday looks better, with fair skies to begin the day.  Clouds will return as the day goes by with skies becoming  mostly cloudy later in the day.  We’ll even add a slight chance of rain during the late afternoon, with rain chances quickly ramping up near and after sunset. Showers and t-storms are a good bet by Sunday night as a warm front moves inland from the Gulf.

We’re getting some mixed signals regarding the potential for active to severe weather Sunday night into Monday.  For now, we think the threat might be a little greater than it was for last night - - we’ll keep tabs on it as the system approaches form the west.  At this point, even if it’s not a “severe” weather threat, we’ll stick with our 1” to 2” rain estimates for Monday just as we posted yesterday.
Given that last night’s and today’s rains were generally lower than anticipated, we’re far less concerned about the threat for a return of river flooding early next week, assuming our early 1” to 2” rain estimates are in the ballpark.  Then, thankfully, it looks like the weather settles down for the rest of the work week, with a mainly-dry forecast posted for Tuesday through Friday.  Temps will be running a little below normal for Thursday and Friday, but still far from real winter weather, even by Louisiana standards.

In fact, our “extra-extended” guidance is suggesting a dry first weekend in March -- wouldn’t that be nice!  In the meantime, enjoy THIS weekend!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

We’ve already seen some passing showers and heard a few rumbles of thunder, and Titan9 Doppler was even suggesting some small hail in a couple of t-storms south of metro BR earlier today.  In the meantime, the weather has been quite active to our west.  In addition to a Tornado Watch for much of western and central Louisiana (through 7PM), we’ve seen a number of T-Storm and Tornado warnings posted.

In addition, the warm front has finally moved from south-to-north through the BR metro area: temps at Metro Airport have responded by jumping from the low 60°s during the early afternoon to 70° as of 4PM. 

Although many of you have enjoyed a few "dry" hours after the earlier rains, don't be shelving the umbrellas just yet.  In fact, a new Tornado Watch was posted for our counties in SW Mississippi just after 5 PM. The threat of severe weather appears to be relatively low this evening, but it's not nonexistent.  But even if we don’t see any severe weather, more rain is likely for your backyard while we await the cold front’s arrival.

The cold front is already over western and northern Louisiana, and thus far most of the active storms appear to be forming over the northern half of the Bayou State.  While we still expect additional t-storms to develop over our viewing area this evening as the front approaches, a majority of the stronger storms may stay north of the BR metro area.

We’re anticipating the frontal passage through metro BR before midnight, taking the severe weather threat with it as the front continues to the east.  But the cold front is expected to slow and eventually stall over southeastern Louisiana’s coastal waters through the day on Friday.  With the front over the southeastern coast, we effectively eliminate any severe weather threat for the WAFB viewing area on Friday, but we can still expect off-and-on showers through the day as the stalled surface front combines with the subtropical jet above to keep mainly-light rains in the Friday forecast.

The front should eventually start moving off to the east on Saturday, allowing skies to start clearing mid-day Saturday.

Highs for both Saturday and Sunday will be around 70° or so, with a slight chance of rain back in the forecast by Sunday afternoon as our next weather-maker heads in our direction from the Southern Plains.  Rain appears likely on Monday, especially for the first half of the day as another Pacific cold front slides by.

In the extended outlook, Mother Nature finally smiles on us with a dry Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Strong Storms Possible Thursday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Clouds weren't quite as extensive as we expected today, but then we doubt that anyone’s complaining!  But the clouds will be increasing through the evening and overnight, with storms returning to the WAFB viewing area by Thursday afternoon.

As we’ve mentioned the past couple of days, there's the potential for some strong storms on Thursday -- the NWS Storm Prediction Center is maintaining a “Slight Risk” for severe weather across the WAFB viewing area from Thursday afternoon into the early hours of Friday.  The primary threat will be damaging winds, but hail and isolated tornadoes can't be ruled out.

And we remind you once again: a NOAA Weather Radio is a great investment to provide you with that “wake-up warning” for overnight threatening weather.  Get a radio with S.A.M.E. technology, which will allow you to program the radio’s alarm to sound an alert only when your parish/county is under the gun!

Here’s the set-up for our weather in the coming days: a low-pressure system over the Desert Southwest will move into the Southern Plains by Thursday morning.  As the low continues to track towards the Great Lakes from Thursday into Friday, it will drag a cold front through the lower Mississippi Valley.  We expect the front to be west of the LA/TX border around 6PM Thursday, but draped over SE Louisiana by early Friday -- that timing brings the front through the WAFB viewing area between roughly midnight and sunrise on Friday.

The front looks like it will slow its eastward advance on Friday, keeping us under the clouds and dealing with some passing showers throughout most of the day.  We could even still see a couple of “backside” overrunning rains Friday night into the early hours Saturday before the mess finally moves far enough east to give us a decent Saturday afternoon.

Unfortunately, our next rainmaker will be organizing over the Southern Plains by Sunday morning and heading our way, bringing another round of scattered rains by Sunday afternoon and evening, with rain likely during the overnight hours.  We expect the system to push a cold front through the WAFB area early on Monday.  Although it is too early to say with high confidence, it looks like we could be dealing with yet another round of locally-severe weather on Monday morning.

The weather should settle down by Monday afternoon and evening, with a couple of much-needed “quiet” weather days on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Preliminary rain estimates through Monday from the NWS Hydrometeorological Prediction Center continue to show widespread totals of 2” to 4+” in the WAFB viewing area.  Given the saturated soils and lingering high water in many ditches, channels and drainage canals across our area, we’ll need to keep a close tab on rain amounts in the coming days: 4” of rain in the right places could push local some areas back into flood.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Clouds Returning Wednesday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

After last night’s one-inch-plus rains and pockets of small hail for some of us, today’s sunshine and blue skies were an extra special treat!  Sadly, the skies will start to cloud back over tonight.

Today’s dome of high pressure will skate off to the east, with high-level clouds spreading in from the west tonight and staying with us all day Wednesday.  Temps will dip into the upper 30°s for many of us by Wednesday morning thanks to the “dry” air mass at lower levels.  We’ll stay dry through the day but the clouds will keep Wednesday afternoon a little cooler, with highs struggling to make the 60°s for most neighborhoods along and north of the east-west interstate corridor.
A storm system currently along the California coast will cross the Rockies and spin-up a surface low over the Plains tomorrow.  As that system continues tracking towards the mid and upper Mississippi Valley, it will pull in Gulf and Pacific moisture.  A cold front associated with this system arrives in the WAFB viewing area late Thursday or early Friday -- the NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has our entire area under a “Slight Risk” for severe weather.  

Although the front is expected to continue to move to our east during the day on Friday, the guidance indicates that it will slow and eventually stall over the coastal waters.  That means our weather stays unsettled into Saturday, possibly even into Sunday.  At the same time, a storm system over the Pacific Northwest on Saturday will move into the Central Plains by Sunday, delivering the next cold front to the lower Mississippi Valley late Monday. 
After a run of wet weather, the weather should clear on Tuesday -- with a little luck!
The latest NWS Hydrometeorological Prediction Center rain projections are indicating that we could see 2” to 4” of rain over the coming 7 days.  If that pans out,  number-crunching shows that this will push Baton Rouge’s winter (Dec-Feb) rainfall to 30” or more, making it the “wettest” winter ever for the record books (since 1888)!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Rain Tonight, Sunshine Tuesday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

We’ve already seen some passing showers this afternoon in the viewing area, and rain chances will be on the increase through the evening and into the night. While we can’t rule out a strong thunderstorm or two during the overnight and pre-dawn hours, it looks like we are outside of the main “threat” zone for severe weather. The NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has posted a “Slight Risk” for severe weather over the northern half of the state tonight -- thankfully, the SPC severe threat excludes all WAFB parishes or counties.

We think that the rains will be just about over by the Tuesday morning commute although you may still be dealing with some slick streets during the AM drive. Skies will clear through the day on Tuesday, with sunshine for the drive home and afternoon highs reaching the low to mid 60°s. But the clear skies don’t last long, and we’ll be back under mostly cloudy skies for Wednesday.

Rain is back for Thursday, Friday and at least the first half of the day on Saturday. We’ve even got a slight rain chance for the day on Sunday, with good rain chances returning again for Monday. 

The outlook for the next seven days calls for continued movements of storm systems from west to east across the U.S., delivering cold fronts to the lower Mississippi Valley. Tonight’s rains will be courtesy of a cold front currently approaching the ArkLaTex this afternoon. Our next frontal system delivers rains during the latter half of Thursday into Friday. That system may stall and linger along the northern Gulf Coast until it gets kicked-out by the next front, scheduled to arrive Monday the way things look right now.

On the positive side, note that temperatures are expected to remain rather mild even with the anticipated frontal passages -- not so much as a brief freeze, much less any Arctic air!

The main story here is that the next seven days look to stay on the “wet” side. The NWS Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) has a 7-day rain forecast of 3” to 5+” for the WAFB viewing area -- not good news given the recent round of river flooding. If those rains are well spread out over the 7-day run, flooding should not become a major concern. However, should a major slug of those projected totals fall within a couple of days, we could see some local rivers return to flood.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Turning Cooler on Saturday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

** Minor flooding continues along portions of the Amite and lower Tangipahoa, but conditions will improve through the weekend.  Go to and click on the “River Stages” link for details. **
We’ve enjoyed back-to-back (Thursday & Friday) sunny afternoons, a welcomed change after our run of wet weather.
A dry front is sliding south through our viewing area this afternoon.  It’s hardly generating any increase in cloud cover, but you may have noticed the “dry” northwest winds.  Later this evening, you’ll note some additional clouds moving in and we’ll go to mostly-cloudy or even cloudy skies overnight.  A few may even get a light sprinkle overnight, but little accumulation.  The overnight clouds are courtesy of a follow-up trough moving south through the region.  We’ve seen some rain over the northern half of the state thanks to this trough, but we’re thinking that the rain area will shrink as it heads towards us later tonight.  Behind the trough, a cooler air mass will take control, and the clouds won’t stay long: skies will begin clearing early Saturday, with a sunrise temps around 40° for the ‘Red Stick.’

Plan on sunny skies for Saturday, but it will be breezy -- occasionally downright windy -- and noticeably cooler with afternoon highs struggling to make the mid 50°s for some WAFB neighborhoods.
That cold, dry continental air mass will allow temps to fall to near freezing for Sunday morning!  But winds quickly swing around from the south on Sunday under mainly sunny skies, allowing for temps to rebound into the 60°s for Sunday afternoon.
Our next rain-maker will be associated with a low-pressure system over the Southern Plains which will remain to our north, but drag a cold front through our viewing area late Monday into the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday.  Another storm system will deliver a cold front with rains and storms late Thursday.

And while we offer these “extra-extended” forecasts with a word of caution, the outlook for NEXT weekend may be shaping up to be rather wet.
We made mention of it yesterday, but it's worth one more look at "this date in weather history" today. The biggest snowfall for many locations around south Louisiana occurred on Feb. 14-15, 1895. Can you imagine 2 FEET of snow on the ground? That's what was reported in Rayne! The logs from back then show over a foot in Baton Rouge...with the highest reported total along the Gulf Coast an amazing 30 inches in Beaumont, Texas!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Picture Perfect for Valentine's Day!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Our morning sprinkles were courtesy of the strong upper-level flow out of the southwest, with the Pacific moisture riding over the cooler air near the surface.  Even this afternoon, while many WAFB neighborhoods finally get some sunshine, clouds and a band of light rains continue over the southeastern coastal parishes.
The clouds will continue to clear through the evening and overnight, and the northwest winds will deliver more dry and cool continental air.  By sunrise on Thursday -- Valentine’s Day -- many WAFB communities along and north of the I-10/12 corridor will have dipped into the upper 30°s!  But with blue skies and sunshine through the day, temps will rebound nicely with metro BR highs reaching the low to mid 60°s for Thursday afternoon.

We’re going to enjoy a string of nice February weather right through the weekend.  While we expect a pair of fronts to push across the lower Mississippi Valley -- one on Friday and the second on Saturday -- the atmosphere will be almost too dry to generate anything but clouds as the boundaries move through.  We say “almost too dry,” so we’ll hedge our bets and allow for the possibility of spotty showers with both frontal passages.  That means hardly anyone sees rain and what they do see will be little more than a sprinkle: no significant accumulations.
On the heels of the second front we’ll get a brief shot of noticeably colder air for Sunday morning.  We’ve been talking about the possibility of a light freeze for Sunday morning through the week: the models appear a bit mixed on the idea right now.  We’ll go with low to mid 30°s for metro Baton Rouge for Sunday’s sunrise temps, with a light freeze for areas north and east of BR.  Sunshine on Sunday will warm things up quickly, however, with highs reaching the 60°s during the afternoon.

Our next rain-making front is scheduled to arrive sometime either very late Monday or early Tuesday.  We’re calling for pre-frontal rains during the latter half of Monday, with rain likely late Monday night into Tuesday morning.  Some thunderstorms are expected with this front, but we’ll have to wait a couple of days before we can assess the “severe” threat.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Watching the Rivers...

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

**  Updated River Stages and Forecasts available at  **
It certainly was a rather dreary Mardi Gras day, but the concern for another round of stormy weather failed to materialize through the day -- and that was great news for south Louisiana krewes as just about every parade in the area managed to roll!
We’ve still got scattered rains in the evening forecast and regional radars still show a couple of broken bands of showers over south Louisiana as late afternoon. The rains will finally come to an end overnight as the surface low and frontal system move off to the east and northeast.
However, clouds will linger well into the day on Wednesday, with areas of fog likely developing over the WAFB region overnight and into early Wednesday.  Wednesday morning’s commute will be under a fairly solid cloud deck, with temps in the low 50°s for metro Baton Rouge, and we could see some pockets of dense fog during the AM drive.  Indeed, we would have anticipated a widespread dense fog problem by the morning were it not for the winds, which are expected to remain in the 5-10 mph range through the night and morning.  The “mixing” effect of the winds will limit the extent of the heavier fog overnight.
Skies will begin to slowly clear around mid-day or mid-afternoon on Wednesday, with clear skies expected by Wednesday night.  Expect plenty of sunshine for Thursday and Friday ahead of the next cold front.

So we swing from “rain watch” to “river watch” mode: river flooding is expected -- or already ongoing at a number of gaging sites -- along the Amite, the Tickfaw, and the Tangipahoa.  To put this flood-threat in perspective, current forecasted crests at a number of river forecast points on all three rivers will match or exceed the highest readings observed during the mid-January flood event.  For the more southern portions of these rivers, the flood crests may not arrive until Friday or Saturday, with high water persisting into next week! Below are some of the latest stages and forecast crests as of late Tuesday afternoon.

We do expect a front to move through the region sometime during the first half of Saturday, with a noticeably cooler air mass in its wake.  But Saturday’s front is shaping up to be a “mainly dry” boundary, so it won’t add to the flooding issues along our regional rivers. 
Highs over the weekend will top out in the 50°s for many WAFB neighborhoods, and we may see a light freeze across the northern half of the WAFB viewing area for Sunday morning!  Now a light freeze might is not such a big deal given that this is mid-February, but remember that we had a rare “freeze-free” January -- so you could say we are long overdue for a “frosty” wake-up!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Flood Watch Continues into Mardi Gras

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

We’ve already seen some impressive rain totals over SW Mississippi, where radar estimates and station reports are suggesting widespread 3” to 5” totals through Monday afternoon with pockets above 6” -- and that is with more rain to come over the next 24 to 36 hours!

Thankfully the rain totals have been much lower over most of the WAFB viewing area, but the current guidance says we could still see another 1” to 3” before it all ends late Tuesday.  Those big rains in Mississippi have prompted the NWS to post River Flood Warnings for the entire Amite River and for the lower Tangipahoa.  Don’t be surprised to see additional River Warnings issued between now and Tuesday afternoon -- depending, of course, on how much rain materializes and where the heavier rains fall.

Rains continue overnight with a few t-storms, and showers and t-storms are likely throughout the better part of the day on Tuesday -- changing Mardi Gras into Soggy Gras!  We can hope for a few breaks in Tuesday’s rains to sneak in some parades, but don’t count on it.

The quasi-stationary front currently lined-up along the Louisiana coast will begin to retreat northward as a warm front tonight and tomorrow.  At the same time, a surface low will develop along that front to our southwest.  That low is expected to track into the southern parishes during the day and move through the WAFB area during the late afternoon or evening.  The low will likely add to the potential for afternoon thunderstorms over our region before the entire storm complex moves out of our area and to the east-northeast Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

Rains will taper off from west-to-east through Wednesday morning, but skies will be slow to clear through the day.  Still we can say “goodbye” to stormy weather from Wednesday through the weekend. 

While the weather through the weekend should be mostly dry, it won’t be entirely uneventful.  A “dry” cold front will push through the region on Friday, bringing a shot of Arctic air in its wake.  Our forecast has temps dropping to near freezing along the I-10/12 for Sunday’s sunrise -- Mother Nature’s way of reminding us that it is still winter!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Looking Good Saturday, Rains Returning Sunday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Friday morning clouds gave way to some afternoon sun, and all looks good for the evening.  We’ll go to mostly cloudy skies later tonight with BR-area temps easing down into the mid to upper 40°s by Saturday’s sunrise.  We may also see a little light patchy fog during the early morning near sun-up, but nothing like what some of you have seen the past few mornings.
Mother Nature cooperates for Saturday’s Spanish Town Parade: expect a sun/cloud mix through the afternoon.  Temps for the noon kick-off will be in the low to mid 60°s, climbing into the upper 60°s to around 70° by parade’s end.

Unfortunately, the weather turns very wet after that.  A storm system centered over the U.S. plains on Sunday will track eastward, bringing a strong cold front into the WAFB viewing area late Sunday into early Monday.  Although it’s still two days down the road, guidance shows that the ingredients are coming together for the development of strong to severe t-storms ahead of the advancing cold front, prompting the NWS Storm Prediction Center to include the WAFB viewing area within a “Slight Risk” zone for that time period.  The main severe weather threats will be damaging winds, but large hail and isolated tornadoes are also a possibility.

Although the front will push through metro BR by early Monday, it looks like it stalls along the coast rather than continuing to track to the east.  With a stationary front lingering along the coast into Tuesday, coupled with a series of upper-level disturbances passing overhead, we’ll be dealing with periods of rain through most of Monday and Tuesday.  Over the course of the three-day period, we could see some Weather Watcher rain totals in the 2” to 3” range, with isolated larger accumulations.
All the wet mess clears out by mid-day Wednesday, if not sooner, with a cooler and “drier” (less humid) air mass settling over the area for the remainder of the work week.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Looking Good for Friday/Saturday Parades!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

An area of low pressure moving eastward through the area late last night and this morning produced widespread rain totals of 1" to 2" around the area, with isolated spots approaching 3"! It was nice to see some sunshine return this afternoon!

The rains moved out early this morning and the fog wasn’t as widespread as we feared, so the morning commute wasn’t as bad as it might have been. While the rains exited early in the day, the clouds were a bit slower to exit. However, bright sunshine had returned to most areas by late this afternoon.

It looks like the clouds will return overnight, accompanied by another round of developing fog after midnight. The overnight clouds will be aided by another weak cool front that slides through the lower Mississippi Valley tonight and early tomorrow and while we can't rule out a stray sprinkle or shower, most of us should remain dry on Friday.

The air will turn slightly cooler and “drier” (less humid) behind Friday morning’s frontal passage. Still, the clouds won’t completely clear the region, so we’ll go with a mix of sun and clouds for Friday afternoon with highs in the low 70°s. Yes, the weather for Friday evening’s Southdowns Parade should be fine with temps in the 60°s.

We may awaken to another round of patchy morning fog on Saturday, but the weather should be fine for the Spanish Town Parade: sunrise temps in the upper 40°s to around 50° for the ‘Red Stick’ with afternoon temps climbing to about 70° under another afternoon with a sun/cloud mix.

If you’re hoping for some good outdoor time this weekend, we recommend you make plans to get it done on Saturday. Sunday looks “wet” and the forecast stays with “rain likely” for both Monday (Lundi Gras) and Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras).

By Sunday, surface low pressure over the U.S. Plains will be headed towards the Great Lakes, with its trailing cold front tracking towards the lower Mississippi Valley. That front will be over the state by early Monday, potentially setting the stage for a round of active weather -- we’ll have to keep a watch on these developments over the next couple of days.

Our current guidance indicates that Monday’s front will then slow and stall along or near the coast, serving as a focus for rains throughout Monday and Tuesday - - not great news for Baton Rouge or the Crescent City as we end the Mardi Gras season. The wet weather should be out of the area by the morning or mid-day Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Rains Ending Thursday Morning

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

We began Wednesday with dense fog for many WAFB neighborhoods while watching a storm system to our west get better organized through the day.  Some communities did get a few peaks of sunshine during the middle of the day but the clouds have closed back in and we’ve already had passing showers in the viewing area this afternoon.
As of 5:00pm, a look at Titan9 Doppler also shows that either the rains are already at your back door or will be there very shortly.  A well-developed disturbance is tracking east-northeast from the northwestern Gulf waters -- that trajectory will bring the heart of the system into the south-central and southeastern coastal parishes this evening.
There is no concern for a severe weather outbreak, but current Doppler trends and lightning detection are indicating some strong t-storms over the coastal waters.  Given the storm’s forecasted path, we could see some stronger t-storms develop over the southern parishes overnight tonight.  In addition, this system’s rain “shield” is large enough that it may well produce rains of 1” or more for much of the viewing area -- a couple of locations may even top the 2” mark before the rains end on Thursday.

It looks like we’ll still have showers in the viewing area for Thursday’s sunrise, but the heavier rains should have moved off to the east before the WAFB-area morning drive kicks-in.  Wet streets may also go hand-in-hand with some areas of rather dense fog for Thursday’s AM commute, so you may want to allow a little extra time for the routine morning drill.
The rains end in the morning with sunshine breaking out by mid-day.  Thursday afternoon’s dry-out will come with highs in the mid 70°s for the ‘Red Stick’ -- a nice end to the day.
A reinforcing cool front -- with no rain -- will push through the lower Mississippi Valley early Friday, leaving us with mild and dry weather for Friday afternoon and Saturday.  All looks good for Friday evening’s Southdowns Parade ... and we should enjoy fair to partly-cloudy skies with highs around 70° for downtown Baton Rouge as Spanish Town rolls on Saturday.

Unfortunately, the Mardi Gras forecast starts turning messy after that.  We’re going with scattered showers and t-storms during the latter half of Sunday with rain likely on Monday as our next weather system heads towards us from the Plains.  What’s more, the forecast remains “wet” for Mardi Gras (Tuesday) as well.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

More Clouds, Rains Ahead This Week

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Tuesday morning’s fog was more dense than we anticipated for some neighborhoods – make sure that you are ready for more fog each of the next several mornings.  In fact, we’re anticipating a Dense Fog Advisory for most or all of the viewing area by Wednesday’s wake-up.  The low-level air is moist, the ground is soggy, and winds will be light overnight: three ingredients that readily promote dense fog when temps are this mild.  Allow yourself a little extra time for that morning drive!
As Steve showed you on Monday, we expect an active sub-tropical jet (the “southern branch” of the jet stream) to remain intact for the next several days, carrying mid-level storm systems west-to-east across the southern United States while providing fast-moving upper-level winds that enhance vertical lifting (more lift, more clouds & potentially more rain).   The combination will make for “on-and-off” rains over the rest of this week and right through the Mardi Gras extended weekend.
The presence of a persistent sub-tropical jet (STJ) overhead during winter also signals mild winter weather in most instances: note that temps throughout the entire 7-day forecast will stay at or above early February norms! 
Our next east-bound disturbance is already taking shape near the Big Bend of Texas and will be a rainmaker for us by Wednesday night.  The only question right now regarding this storm system is how early on Wednesday it might arrive?  Two of our long-time reliable models -- the American (GFS) and the European (ECMWF) -- bring rains into the viewing area by the mid-evening.  On the other hand, our in-house RPM model keeps most of the rain to our west until after midnight.  Which is right?
That’s what makes forecasting storms flowing with the sub-tropical jet trickier than you might expect:  how fast will the storm complex move? 
We’re putting a 20% to 30% rain chance into the Wednesday afternoon forecast, with rain chances rising through the evening.  Just about everybody gets wet with this system, and based upon what we’re seeing now, local rain totals of 1” or more will be common.  That system clears to our east during the latter half of the day on Thursday. 

We’re still keeping fingers crossed for Friday’s Southdowns and Saturday’s Spanish Town Parades!  Although we can’t rule out a spotty shower on either day, both days still look to be “mainly dry” and mild: wake-up temps in the 50°s (with fog) and afternoons in the 70°s.  As of this afternoon, we’ll call it a sun/cloud mix for Friday with partly cloudy skies expected for at least the better part of the day on Saturday.
In the extended outlook, timing becomes even more difficult  -- therefore, confidence is low.  From what we see right now, a low pressure center over the Plains on Sunday will track towards the Great Lakes, dragging a cold front through the region on Monday.  The result: isolated to scattered rains return to the forecast for Sunday with rain likely on Monday (Lundi Gras).   The front may be slow to clear the Louisiana coast, and that could mean scattered rains for at least the first half of our Mardi Gras day (Tuesday) forecast, with rain chances expected to be a little higher in the Crescent City.

Monday, February 4, 2013

"Unsettled" Weather through the Work Week
 -- Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta
      4 February 2013
Rain has already fallen in the downtown area of Baton Rouge this afternoon thanks to a mid-level storm system tracking west-to-east across the central Gulf Coast. The rains will be with us through the night and into the early part of Tuesday, with the showers ending Tuesday morning. We’re not anticipating any heavy rain or storms this evening or tonight as the system slides by, and most of us can expect under one-half inch of rain during the next 24 hours.

But the work week forecast remains rather unsettled and we’re also carrying rain in the forecast for parts of the upcoming Mardi Gras weekend and “extended” holiday.

We expect a break from the rains from Tuesday afternoon through much of Wednesday, although we are posting a 20% rain chance for the viewing area for the latter half of Wednesday. Widespread rains return Thursday and Thursday’s weather set-up looks like it could be more energetic, both in terms of thunderstorm potential and rain totals. However, at this point we are not anticipating any kind of severe-weather outbreak on Thursday, just a very wet day for most of us.

Based on current guidance, a few showers could linger into the early hours on Friday, but our Friday afternoon should be dry. And so should Saturday. That is great news for the Krewe of Southdowns (Friday evening) and the Capital City’s sometimes bawdy Spanish Town Parade on Saturday! In fact, not only does the extended outlook for Friday and Saturday look dry, but the week’s run of warmer-than-normal weather will continue right through the weekend and into next week.
The dry weather for Southdowns and Spanish Town may be an added bonus for local parade-goers and bead-mongers: the long-range outlook for Lundi Gras (Monday) and Mardi Gras (Tuesday) suggests that one or both days could be on the “wet” side across South Louisiana.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Looking Good for Parades & More This Weekend!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

The forecast looks good for all of this weekend’s parades, starting with tonight’s Krewe of Artemis in downtown Baton Rouge.  Dry weather extends throughout the day on Saturday across south Louisiana and the weather cooperates through Super Bowl Sunday as well!

Saturday should be a nice “spring like” day, with a mix of sun and clouds and afternoon highs climbing to around 70° for metro BR.  And Super Bowl Sunday?  Just about as good, although maybe a couple of degrees cooler in the afternoon.

A weak cool front slipped to the Louisiana coast this afternoon.  The boundary has stalled over south Louisiana for now and will retreat northward tonight and into Saturday morning as a weak warm front.  It won’t generate any rain as it moves back north, but it puts the WAFB area back into the “warm sector” (the warmer, south side of the front) for Saturday afternoon.  Highs near 70° will combine with the low-level Gulf moisture to produce some fair-weather clouds during the afternoon and evening, but nothing else. 

In addition, you may remember that we’ve been hedging a bit on the Saturday evening and overnight forecast, suggesting that a weak disturbance sliding by to our north might generate a few sprinkles for the Krewe of Orion parade?  Well, you can still bring umbrellas, but just plan to flip them over to catch more beads!  No rain expected for Orion!

Temperatures through the upcoming work week look to stay above the norm, with daytime highs ranging from the upper 60°s to low 70°s and daily minimums at or above 50° from Tuesday through Friday. 

Monday stays dry, but our next probable rainmaker will be cranking-up over the Southern Plains on Monday and moving into our region early Tuesday.  Our WAFB area forecast has “rain likely” for Tuesday as that system moves west-to-east across the Gulf Coast states.  By Wednesday, that system should have moved far enough to the east to give us a “dry” day, but at the same time another system will be organizing over the Southern Plains.  This second storm system is likely to deliver rains sometime between late Thursday and Friday.