Monday, August 26, 2013

Hotter, Drier Week Ahead

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

** 21 year ago today (26 August 1992), Hurricane Andrew made ‘his’ second U.S. landfall along the coast of St. Mary Parish at approximately 3:30am. Wind speeds for the Louisiana landfall are estimated to have peaked at 115 mph (Category 3), but fortunately Andrew weakened quickly after landfall, with peak winds dropping to tropical-storm strength by mid-day. More importantly, media coverage of the devastation experienced across Florida two days prior to Andrew’s arrival in Louisiana was enough to send a message to Gulf Coast residents that this hurricane meant “business” -- prompting what was the largest coastal evacuation in history at that time. **

Speaking of tropical weather, Fernand (pronounced “fair-NAHN”) made landfall along the Mexican Gulf Coast at 11:45 PM last night, and was officially downgraded to a depression with the 10:00 AM NHC Advisory this morning. Remnants of the storm will continue to move inland and interaction with the region’s mountainous terrain will continue to disrupt the storm. Still, heavy rains and valley flooding will be a serious threat to local communities there.

For us, the northern Gulf easterly wave that skirted the Louisiana coast over the weekend continues to move a bit more slowly than many of us expected. As a result, we continue to see some isolated to scattered showers developing along the wave’s “backside” east-to-west flow. But the disturbance will continue to track westward into Texas, taking the isolated rains with it while drier air filters-in from the north and northeast.

Elsewhere in the tropics, a ‘wave’ far out in the open Atlantic may show some development in the coming days, but for now there is nothing showing imminent signs of organization anywhere in the basin.

Closer to home, today’s cloud-cover and passing showers -- including a handful of t-storms -- helped to slow the afternoon warm-up, keeping highs in the 80°s for many WAFB neighborhoods.

A broad upper-level ridge is settling over the central U.S. while surface high pressure builds into our viewing area from the east and northeast. The combination of these two features will mean mainly-dry days ahead with plenty of sunshine. In addition, dew point temps will drop into the 60°s for the next couple of days, making for comfortable mornings and “tolerable” afternoons. But be aware that the added sunshine and “dry” air (lowered dew points) in the coming days will allow afternoon temps to climb above-normal. In fact, many WAFB communities could see highs in the mid-90°s during the latter half of the work week.

So how long does the dry weather last? For now, we think just about everyone is rain-free through Friday. We’re getting some mixed signals for the weekend, so for now we’ll go with “mainly dry” for Saturday and Sunday too -- setting weekend rain chances at 20% or less for both days. 

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