Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Watching the Rivers...

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

**  Updated River Stages and Forecasts available at WAFB.com  **
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!

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