Monday, September 9, 2013

Hot, Mainly Dry This Week

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Thanks to some afternoon clouds and passing t-showers, most of us dodged the mid 90°s over the weekend. The weekend mornings weren’t bad at all either, with sunrise temps in the upper 60°s to around 70° for many WAFB neighborhoods. Same was true this morning in the metro area. But even with those mild morning starts, daily temps have been running slightly-above normal almost every day this month. In addition, we can expect daily temps to continue to run slightly-above normal through the work week and into the weekend.

At the same time, while we can’t say rain-free, the outlook for the coming 5 to 7 days will be on the “dry” side, with only isolated afternoon rains -- at best -- posted for the daily forecasts through the work week.

We’re not entering drought conditions, but “hit-or-miss” rains over the past several weeks have left some dry spots in the viewing area, especially on the west side of the Mississippi River and for areas close to and north of the LA/MS state line. 

True, rainfall over the immediate Baton Rouge area has been near normal to above normal for the past two weeks. It also has been wetter-than-normal recently over and around St. Mary, northern Terrebonne, Iberia and southern Assumption parishes. But for much of the remaining WAFB viewing area, two-week rains are running at less than 50% of normal. That’s not critical just yet, but with our warmer-than-normal afternoons and plenty of sunshine, soil-water evaporation is likely running at more than 1” per week. So for some of you, it’s time to think about the sprinklers for the lawns and gardens if you haven’t already.

In the tropics, T.S. HUMBERTO continues to churn over the far eastern Atlantic and is expected to reach hurricane strength soon, but as of now HUMBERTO does not look to be a threat for any part of the U.S. mainland.

We've mentioned this before, but as a reminder: HUMBERTO is the 'deepest' into the tropical 'names' list we've ever gone in the Atlantic Basin without a hurricane. That even includes the early "ABLE, BAKER, CHARLIE ..." years, beginning in 1950! The current record-holder for the latest hurricane in the "modern" era is 2002's GUSTAV, which achieved hurricane status at 7AM CDT (1200 UTC) on September 11th of that year.

By "modern era" we mean since the onset of the naming convention in 1950. Yes, earlier hurricane records show an even later "first hurricane" in 1941 (Sep 21) and no hurricanes at all in 1907 and 1914 -- but these records are considered somewhat questionable due to the lack of satellite imagery to monitor the entire basin back then.

The current forecast for 2013's HUMBERTO calls for it to reach 'Category 1' on Tuesday evening. So it looks as though HUMBERTO will just miss setting a new "latest-ever" record for a hurricane.

We’ll be watching for potential tropical development in the southwestern Gulf later in the week. Our in-house RPM, the solid American GFS, and the European ECMWF computer forecast models are all showing something spinning over the Bay of Campeche by or before week’s end. The RPM is showing something as early as Thursday, while the GFS and “Euro” are a day or two slower, but pointing at the same area. There’s nothing to be concerned about right now ... just Mother Nature’s reminder that we are at the mid-point of the Hurricane Season.

And finally, today marks the 48th anniversary of Hurricane Betsy's landfall in southeast Louisiana. Betsy came ashore as a Category 3 hurricane near Grand Isle just before midnight on Sept. 9, 1965. A storm surge of nearly 16 feet was reported near Grand Isle and large sections of New Orleans were flooded by the rising waters. Betsy also produced an 8-foot rise in the Mississippi River all the way up here in Baton Rouge -- likely a combination of the surge and water backing up because it was unable to drain into the Gulf. Betsy was also a big wind storm, with a number of sites reporting gusts well over 100 mph.

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