Monday, November 25, 2013

Staying Damp & Cold on Tuesday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

So ... how’s your home-heating system been behaving?  You’ll want it in tip-top shape this week!
The break from the Saturday dampness was certainly a short one.  After a sunny but cool Sunday, the clouds returned overnight and rain is back.  If you’ve been checking WAFB’s on-line Interactive Radar or your Storm Team App, you’ve seen a broad swath of rain advancing from the west and southwest.
This round of rain is going to be with us for a while.  We’re not concerned about any severe weather with this forecast cycle, but you may hear some rumbles of thunder between now and Tuesday afternoon.
There are two features at play for our rainy Monday night and Tuesday, and both mean “wet” weather.  A surface low currently over the western Gulf is headed northeast towards the central Gulf Coast and join forces with an eastbound upper-level low currently over the Texas Panhandle.  These two systems are sure to give Louisiana a true winter feel over the coming days -- not just wet but very cold too!
In fact, highs over sections of northern Louisiana topped-out in the 30°s today, with the threat of freezing rain prompting a “Winter Weather Advisory” earlier in the day across the northwestern parishes!  While it wasn’t nearly that cold here, it seemed as though the clouds and rain made it feel colder than it was.
For WAFB viewers, we’re looking at lows ranging from the upper 30°s (north) to low to mid 40°s (south of Baton Rouge), with lows around 50° near the coast.  Metro Baton Rouge can expect a low right around the 40° mark.  Most WAFB communities can expect to remain in the 40°s through a dreary and wet Tuesday.  While the surface low will have moved towards the Southeast U.S. by Tuesday afternoon, the upper low will still be positioned over the lower Mississippi Valley.
Scattered, mainly-light rains will continue into Tuesday evening and into the overnight hours but should be out of the area well before Wednesday’s morning drive.  At the same time, early Wednesday temps will fall to around freezing under clearing skies for neighborhoods along and north of the I-10/12 corridor.

You may have heard some chatter about the potential for winter precip late Tuesday night into early Wednesday.  It all depends on just how quickly the freezing temps arrive and how long the ‘backside’ rains (rains trailing the surface low) persist.  We concede a slight chance for a ‘winter mix’ (sleet & rain) near and north of the LA/MS state line.  In fact, we won’t be surprised to hear a couple of Weather Watcher reports of sleet and/or ice pellets from around the northern half of the WAFB viewing area by late Tuesday evening.  But there won’t be any accumulations and it should not result in any hazard concerns for Wednesday’s morning commute.
Sunshine breaks out for Wednesday, but it stays cold, with highs once again in the 40°s for much of the viewing area.
Thanksgiving morning?  Very, very cold under mainly clear skies -- a ‘Hard Freeze’ will extend over most of the WAFB region with lows for metro Baton Rouge plummeting to the mid 20°s and low 20°s for viewers to the north and east of metro BR.
The Thursday morning freeze will reach all the way into the coastal parishes.  Although we expect a sunny day for Thanksgiving, temps will be slow to warm and struggle to reach 50° around the ‘Red Stick.’  That means a fairly prolonged freeze -- for now, we’re thinking temps will be at or below freezing for 10 hours or more across metro BR with freeze durations exceeding 12 hours for areas north and east of the Capital City.  We’ll get a better handle on these numbers as we get closer to Thursday.

You may be thinking, when was the last time we had a freeze like this?  Metro Airport dipped to 26° on March 3rd -- the coldest day so far this year.  If the airport drops to 25° or below, we have to go back to January of 2011 to match it.  Baton Rouge’s record low for November 28th is 23°, set back in 1938. From what we’re seeing right now, we could get uncomfortably close to a repeat.
Metro BR can expect another freeze for Friday morning, then we’ll head into a warming trend and say goodbye to freezes for the time being.  We expect dry weather through the Thanksgiving weekend with highs back into the 60°s for Saturday and up around 70° for Sunday.
Rain is back in the forecast for next Monday.

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