Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Beautiful Weather Continues!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

** Did you see the International Space Station early this morning? **

** Look to the west about 40 minutes after sunset over the next few evenings to catch a glimpse of Comet Pan-STARRS!  Look below the moon this evening -- binoculars are suggested for the best view. **

Comet PANSTARRS and a waxing crescent moon over Baton Rouge Tuesday evening, courtesy of Alice Wack Stout. 

Enjoying this run of beautiful weather?  Who isn’t? And it keeps on coming!
Clear skies and subsiding winds, coupled with a second surge of cool and very dry Canadian air today will set the ‘Red Stick’ area up for another morning in the upper 30°s on Thursday – expect low to mid 30°s for many areas north and east of Baton Rouge by Thursday’s sunrise, with a handful of SW Mississippi communities possibly getting a light, brief freeze to start the day.  But blue skies and sunshine will allow temps to rebound quickly, and we expect to see the upper 60°s on Thursday afternoon for the metro area.
After that, here come warmer days, with highs in the 70°s for Friday and Saturday, and a few WAFB neighborhoods possibly getting up around 80° or more by Sunday and Monday.
A surface dome of high pressure has settled over the lower and middle Mississippi Valley today.  That dome will ease to the east and southeast over the next couple of days, setting us up with inflow from the Gulf by the latter half of the day Thursday and then continuing right through the coming weekend. 
The extended outlook still has a Canadian front stalling well to our north on Sunday, keeping the pressure gradient aligned to maintain a southerly flow.  A cool front out of the Southern Plains will then head towards the Gulf Coast on Monday, passing through the WAFB area late Monday into the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday.  At this point, we’re not expecting the Monday/Tuesday front to be much of a rainmaker - - those that do get rain will likely see less than one-half inch.
So here we are, headed into what should be a nice mid-March weekend - - with nearly perfect weather for Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Parade and celebration. 

Looking back, it’s been an interesting winter with generally mild temps and record and near-record rains.  After three very wet months, most of us have been noticeably drier over the past couple of weeks.  Yes, a few WAFB communities had rains of 2” or more earlier in the week, but that late Sunday/early Monday rain has been the only wet weather spell since Feb 25th. 

Yet the drier weather has also been accompanied by a shift to cooler-than-normal days.  The last three days of February, and 10 of the 13 days during March -- including today -- have been cooler-than-normal based on climatology.  In addition, after just 6 freezes through February and a seasonal low of 28° (on Dec 30th) for Baton Rouge’s Metro Airport, that same site has recorded three additional freezes during the first half of March 2013 including the winter’s only “hard” freeze, a 26° low on the morning of March 3rd (with temps at or below freezing for roughly 8 hours).

Although we expect another morning start in the 30°s tomorrow, that may well be the end of the 30°s for the winter season.  The extended outlook for the rest of March indicates that temps are likely to stay near-normal to above-normal.  Sure, we could still have a couple of chilly days (by March standards), but it appears as though we are finally done with the “freezes.”  However, the past couple of weeks serve as a reminder that winter does not officially end until the latter half of March.  2013’s spring equinox arrives at 6:02am on March 20th, a little more than an hour before sunrise.

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