Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Scattered PM Rains Continue

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

A bit drier today than the past few days, although daytime heating was sufficient to fire-off isolated afternoon showers and a couple of t-storms across the viewing area.  Look for the weather to settle down by or before sunset, with a dry night ahead for just about everyone.
We’ll start Wednesday under partly cloudy skies with Red Stick area temperatures in the low 70°s around sunrise.  The thermometer will rise quickly through the morning hours, reaching the upper 80°s by lunchtime and topping out in the low 90°s for the afternoon.  Like today, only a portion of the viewing area gets rain -- we’re setting afternoon and early evening rain chances on Wednesday at about 30% under a sun/cloud mix.
For the time being, the forecast  for Thursday through Saturday reads about the same: morning lows in the low to mid 70°s, afternoon highs in the low 90°s, and afternoon and evening rain chances running in the 30% to 40% range for all three days.

The weather just might get a little more interesting as we head into the weekend.
First off, the cool front that we thought might make it too the Gulf Coast looks like it will fizzle out as it pushes through the state, although it might deliver a brief dose of slightly drier air Saturday into early Sunday.  At the same time, however, we think that the upper-level low currently to the east of the Florida Peninsula will have made its way westward and be positioned somewhere over or near the north-central Gulf.
This upper-low is an intriguing ingredient to the weekend weather outlook: depending on its location and intensity, it could either increase or decrease our weekend rain chances!  (Yes, we know -- that’s just about as non-committal as we can get!)  We’ll have to wait at least a couple of days to see how that shakes out.
And then there is Tropical Storm Chantal.  One could say that Chantal has been beating the odds over the past couple of days: more often than not, a relatively weak tropical storm moving at a speed of 25-30 mph would be struggling to survive.  But not Chantal -- in fact, while her satellite presentation is far from impressive, ‘she’ has ever-so-slowly been strengthening while racing to the west-northwest.
The 4PM National Hurricane Center forecast for Chantal takes her across Hispaniola on Wednesday and then up through the Bahamas on Thursday and Friday.  Actually, the latest round of forecast model runs hints at a slight shift to the west of that official track, closer to Cuba and then paralleling Florida’s Atlantic Coast by Saturday.  Another change evident in the NHC forecast is that the latest run fails to show the dramatic slow-down in forward speed into the weekend that was indicated in earlier forecasts.

For now, the current NHC thinking is that Chantal will most likely threaten the U.S. Atlantic Coast from northern Florida into the Carolinas.  However, enough uncertainty remains in play down the road that we need to keep an eye on Chantal.  Although we are putting the chances at the very low end (for now), we still can’t entirely rule out a turn towards the Florida Peninsula and an unwelcomed visit into the eastern Gulf.

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