Monday, July 22, 2013

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Although there were still some pockets of showers and t-storms moving west-to-east across the Florida Parishes as of 4PM, most of the day’s more widespread rains rolled through the viewing a little earlier in the day.  Those earlier rains took a good deal of punch out of the unstable atmosphere but a serious deck of clouds persist for many communities, filtering much of the late afternoon sunshine.  As a result, the typical afternoon climb into the 90°s was slowed a great deal -- in fact, most WAFB neighborhoods topped out in the 80°s for their afternoon highs.
Don’t be expecting a repeat performance any time soon!
Upper-level ridging currently extending over most of the western U.S. will expand eastward for the next several days; at the same time, high pressure will build over the Gulf.  These two features point to a noticeably drier and hotter forecast, with afternoon highs for many WAFB neighborhoods climbing into the mid 90°s for the next few days, at least.  Based on our current forecast, we’re heading into what could well be the “hottest” week of the summer thus far.

The eastern extent of that upper ridge is expected to pull back to the west by late Thursday or Friday.  At the same time a cool front will try to make it down to the Gulf Coast -- but don’t count on it.  We think that the front will stall before getting here, then retreat back to the north.  However, with the upper ridge back to the west, we’ll increase rain chances as we head into the weekend, with the best chance for rain coming on Sunday.
It is really far too soon to be sure, but at least one extended range model hints that the western ridge will re-expand eastward early NEXT week, which could mean a return to warmer-and-drier days down the road -- we’ll see how that pans out in the coming days.

In the tropics, the NHC is watching an area of disturbed weather (Invest ‘AL98’) in the far eastern Atlantic -- just off the west coast of Africa -- and giving it a 30% chance for development into a tropical cyclone during the next two days.  While AL98 poses no threat to the U.S., Bahamas or Caribbean at this time, what is a little surprising is to see such a high probability for tropical cyclone development for a tropical wave so far east this early in the season.

Wondering about the sea-surface temps (SSTs) out ahead of AL98?
SSTs across most of the tropical Atlantic are a tad warmer-than-normal for this time of year and are warm enough to support storm development.  Admittedly, we’ll sit back and see what becomes of AL98 over the coming days, but let’s just hope that this is not a sign that the eastern tropical Atlantic is ready for action already!  It is way too early for ‘Cape Verde’ storms!

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