Monday, November 11, 2013

Big Chill on the Way!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

On this Veterans Day, we send a big “Thank You!” to those that have served and those serving still ...
We enjoyed a fine November weekend weatherwise ... and after a cool start, today was another in a string of fine fall days with highs reaching the mid to upper 70°s for most. 
While our forecast remains “dry” through most of the work week, there are some big changes in our weather just around the corner as a strong cold front continues to rapidly plunge southward, setting the stage for the coldest air mass of the season along the Gulf Coast by mid-week.
Tuesday will start off nice enough, with modest morning lows in the upper 40°s to low 50°s for most WAFB neighborhoods.  We’re expecting partly cloudy skies for the afternoon with highs for most WAFB neighborhoods reaching the upper 60°s to near 70° or so, but the advertised strong cold front will pass through the viewing area during the day.  Although winds tomorrow will likely be northerly even before the front arrives, you may recognize the mid-day frontal passage as winds pick-up in speed and dew point temperatures begin a steady fall.
Looking back at the autumn thus far, while temps through the first third of November have been slightly below-normal, monthly temperatures for both September and October averaged above-the-norm across the WAFB viewing area.  In fact, only a very few of our northernmost viewers have seen any early-morning lows in the 30°s thus far.  For Baton Rouge’s Metro Airport, the lowest reading this fall season has been 41°, while the autumn low so far for McComb (Pike County Airport) stands at 40°.
Why mention these lows?  Because for many, the arrival of our first real winter-like air mass tomorrow night will prompt the season’s first extensive use of home furnaces and supplemental heaters.  Remember to be extra cautious and watchful with that first use of home heating systems and please use extra special care with space heaters!  Space heaters and poorly-maintained home-heating systems are not all that far behind the kitchen in terms of the main culprits for house fires.

The cold, almost-Arctic blast arriving tomorrow will drop temps to or below freezing for much of the WAFB viewing area by Wednesday’s sunrise. That has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Freeze Warning for much of the area. In addition, sustained northerly winds running in the 10-20 mph range will make it feel even colder, with Wednesday wake-up wind chills in the 20°s!  What’s more, Wednesday will stay quite cool even into the afternoon, with highs only reaching the mid to upper 50°s for most WAFB neighborhoods along and north of the I-10/12 corridor.

So ... is this early for a freeze?  Well, yes!  A look at records for Baton Rouge’s Metro Airport shows that this will be the earliest freeze since the Fall of 1993!  In fact, based on the last 50 years or so, we can consider Thanksgiving Weekend as a good ballpark estimate for the average date for the first freeze for the Red Stick (based on records from BR’s Metro Airport) - - generally the last few days of November.  For McComb (Pike Co. Airport), however, we’re not that far ahead of the mark -- the first freeze for our SW Mississippi neighbors averages around mid-November, and the McComb Airport recording two October first-freezes in just the past six years.  That 50-mile distance north of the I-12 for McComb makes a huge difference.

Add in the fact that with our relatively mild autumn thus far, most of us may not be mentally prepared for a ‘big chill’ just yet.  Thankfully, we’re in luck -- because it may get cold, but the winter-like temps won’t last long at all.
After another morning flirt with a wake-up freeze on Thursday, the winds will come around from the southeast (“return flow”) and we’ll begin a modest warm-up with Thursday afternoon highs back into the 60°s for most of us.  Friday morning lows will be back up to near 50° for most, with highs on Friday back into the 70°s for the Capital City.
Heading into Friday and the weekend, not only will we be back to highs above 70° each of the three days but along with the mild temperatures comes better rain chances.  Admittedly, the picture is far from clear -- there’s still a lot of uncertainty as to the timing of those rains.  At least for now, we’re suggesting that you prepare for scattered, mainly-afternoon rains for Friday, with scattered-to-likely rains over the weekend.

Staying quiet in the Atlantic Basin with no pending threats for tropical development ...

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