Monday, December 30, 2013

Chilly, Mainly Dry to Close Out 2013

The sunshine we enjoyed for a while on Sunday quickly gave way to returning clouds last night and today. If there was any good news to this gloomy Monday, the majority of our viewing area remained dry except for locations right along the coast.
A southwest flow at the mid and upper-levels of the atmosphere will continue to transport Pacific moisture and clouds into the area on Tuesday. That means we’re in for another gloomy day on New Year’s Eve, but again, most of us should remain dry. After a morning start in the upper 30°s to lower 40°s, afternoon highs will only top out in the lower 50°s.

So what about “Red Stick Revelry” downtown and all of the other New Year’s festivities around south Louisiana? You’ll want to dress warmly with temperatures expected to hover in the lower 40°s. The good news is that while we can’t rule out a stray shower or two, we expect a mainly dry night around the area.

It’s a different story as we move into New Year’s Day. Developing low pressure in the Gulf tracking toward the northern Gulf Coast will deliver widespread rains to the area by Wednesday afternoon. No severe weather is expected, but some decent rains are possible from Wednesday into Thursday morning. Some of our guidance suggests as much as 1 to 2 inches of rainfall is possible in spots.

The wet weather exits to the east on Thursday morning and gives way to returning chilly weather for the end of the week. In fact, freezes are likely on both Friday and Saturday mornings, with Friday’s highs only reaching the mid to upper 40°s.

We should see a brief rebound in temps for the second half of the weekend, with the potential for some rain to return late Sunday into early Monday.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A 'Cool' Close to 2013

Talk about a “mixed bag” of weather over the weekend? An absolutely ugly Saturday was followed by today’s fairly nice winter day. Sure, the high thin clouds settled in through most of the day, but most WAFB neighborhoods saw highs today reach into the 60°s -- quite an improvement after a wet, dreary Saturday when some WAFB communities never saw temps climb out of the 40°s.
But after this afternoon’s filtered sunshine, a thicker deck of clouds will return as a cold front slowly approaches from the northwest. Fortunately, the air column remains fairly dry as we head into Monday, so the cold front won’t have an abundance of moisture in the immediate area to generate rains. We’ll plan for mostly cloudy skies but staying “mainly dry” through the overnight with lows in the low to mid 40°s for just about all of the viewing area.
However, a disturbance moving into the western Gulf may add in just enough moisture to the air to generate a few light showers during the day on Monday behind the front-- we’ll go with rain chances at 20% (to maybe 30% along the coast) but with little in the way of measureable accumulations. Monday’s clouds and the frontal passage will keep things cool too -- highs will max-out in the 50°s. The clouds linger into the night and early Tuesday, with the Canadian air filtering in behind Monday’s front taking Tuesday morning lows into the 30°s for just about all WAFB communities.
Unfortunately, our main computer models not only keep the clouds around for Tuesday but also hint at isolated, mainly-light showers for Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday evening. We’ll call it a 20% rain chance for Tuesday afternoon and evening -- certainly not an all-day rain, and in fact, most will stay dry. So don’t let the slight rain threat make you change your New Year’s Eve plans, whether indoors or outdoors.
Just remember, if you’re going to be spending some time outside on Tuesday evening into the midnight hour -- like Baton Rouge’s Red Stick Revelry at Town Square --be sure to dress for it. We expect temps to be running in the 40°s through the evening and likely dipping to around 40° or even into the upper 30°s around the midnight hour. And Happy New Year!
The pattern continues with a chance of rain into New Year’s Day as we’ll have to keep an eye on another disturbance that the models have developing in the western Gulf. Computer guidance currently suggests that much like Monday, the main storm energy from this second Gulf system will slide from west-to-east but remain to our south over the Gulf waters. For the time being, we’ll go with just a few showers in the viewing area from late Wednesday into early Thursday, with clearing during the latter half of Thursday.
It’s back to sunrises in the 30°s for Friday and Saturday -- maybe even a light freeze for some viewers on Friday morning. Friday afternoon stays cool under mostly sunny skies with ‘Red Stick’ highs around 50° or so; the forecast calls for fair to partly cloudy skies by the afternoon with highs near 60° for Saturday. The extended guidance has our next cold front headed into the region on Sunday, delivering scattered showers and a few t-storms.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dry for Friday ... Not So on Saturday!

As expected, most neighborhoods along and north of the I-10/12 corridor had a brief, light freeze this morning. That’s the third morning in a row with a freeze at Baton Rouge’s Metro Airport (BTR) and the sixth wake-up freeze for BTR this month.
Although cool, there really wasn’t much to complain about with this afternoon’s weather -- some high thin clouds allowing in the sunshine with highs upper 50°s to around 60° for most WAFB communities.
We’re expecting another dry day with a sun/cloud mix for Friday after a cold wake-up in the mid to upper 30°s for the Capital City region. In fact, the forecast keeps morning minimums in the 30°s to around 40° through the weekend -- all a bit below the norm, even for this time of year. Some of our viewers along near and north of the LA/MS state line may flirt with another light freeze on Friday morning but we don’t expect any more freezes for the BR metro area through Sunday. Still, “cool” will be the key to our weather, not only for the remainder of Christmas week but for the rest of the year.
Computer models continue to show a disturbance developing in the western Gulf and tracking to the northeast by Saturday and delivering scattered to numerous showers to our viewing area. For the time being, it looks like the rain is most likely during the latter half of the day -- we’ll call for a 60% rain chance for the BR metro area, with higher rain chances closer to the coast. Highs on Saturday with the clouds and rain will top out in the low to mid 50°s for most. Those rains linger into the overnight with some showers continuing into the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, but skies clear early and sunshine returns on Sunday, with afternoon highs up around 60° or so for most WAFB communities.
The next cold front arrives on Monday. The air will still be rather dry over the central Gulf Coast when the front gets here, so we’ll go with just isolated showers as that front slides through -- Monday rain chances at 20% or less. Behind the Monday front, another dose of cold and dry Canadian air will mean one last freeze for 2013 for most viewers. However, the winter air mass keeps everyone dry through mid-week at least, which means a cold but rain-free New Year’s Eve festivities.
Yes, our 7-day forecast calls for cooler-than-normal weather to close out the year. A New Year’s Eve anticipated light freeze would make seven wake-up freezes this month for the Red Stick. The ‘normal’ (30-year average) number of December freezes is roughly 5 days at Metro Airport, so we’ll be a bit above the norm but nothing way out of the ordinary.
For the trivia buffs, the most freeze days in any December (since at least 1930)? 15 days in 1989 (which includes that monster Arctic Outbreak right at Christmas time). And just a few Decembers ago, in 2010, BTR had the second most December freezes at 13 days.
For the season, a December 31st morning freeze would make 12 freezes thus far, above the ‘normal’ of 6 (for the period of October-thru-December), but still well behind the 1989 record of 17 days.
So yes, it’s been a cool pair of months and it will stay cool through year’s end ... but maybe not as chilly a winter so far as you might think. BTR’s two-month (Nov+Dec)‘normal’ mean temperature is 56.9°F and right now the 2013 Nov+Dec average for BTR is 55.2°. Our cooler-than-normal forecast for the rest of the month could knock the 2013 average down about another degree, so it looks like we’ll be about 2° or so below normal for the last two months of the year.
Our cold snaps in the past six weeks have had many using the home heating a bit more than you would like ... yet at the same time, December’s five days at 80° or above at BTR have had you cranking up the A/C in-between the chills. That’s the most 80° December days since 2007 and the fourth highest number on the record books (back to 1930). Once again, we see Louisiana’s winter season temperature roller-coaster at work!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Chilly Headed into Christmas!

The holiday ‘feel’ is back in the air in south Louisiana just in time for Christmas! A pair of weekend cold fronts resulted in a much cooler day today, with lows ranging from the upper 30°s to lower 40°s and highs that struggled to reach 50° in many WAFB neighborhoods. Perhaps the best part of today was the return of some sunshine this afternoon after a rather gloomy weekend.

The remainder of this holiday week’s weather can be summed up simply as cool and dry. Morning freezes are just about a certainty for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for most of our viewers – except those right along the coast – and afternoon highs will only reach the mid to upper 50°s on those days. While my current forecast keeps Baton Rouge just above freezing on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday mornings, it’s certainly possible to see a brief freeze on any of those days as well.

The good news is there will be no wet weather to deal with for last-minute shoppers on Christmas Eve or for the family get-togethers on Christmas Day. Just make sure you’ve got the sweaters and jackets ready to keep warm!

Overall, little change is expected into the weekend, with dry weather continuing and just a very modest warm-up. We may see a few isolated showers by the early part of next Monday as quick-moving cold front passes through.

Finally, do you remember how cold it was on this date 24 years ago? December 23, 1989 is one of the coldest days on record for much of the Deep South, including our part of the world. The remarkably cold low temperatures on this date in 1989 included 8° in Baton Rouge, 4° in McComb, 10° in Houma, and 11° in New Orleans. While the coldest temperatures occurred on the 23rd, it was a prolonged run of very cold weather that began on the 21st and extended into Christmas. During that stretch, Baton Rouge saw 64 straight hours at or below freezing and a total of 25 hours at or below 15°! The bitterly cold air also resulted in ice on many area lakes, including the LSU lakes and Lake Pontchartrain…a true rarity!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Severe Weather Threat Today

A very warm, moist, and unstable airmass is in place today. Strong southerly flow continues to pump moisture into South Louisiana. In fact a wind advisory is in place for most of the area as winds could top 20-30 mph sustained with gusts of 45 mph not out of the question. Highs today will be just shy of tying a record reaching 80° at metro airport. We should stay mainly dry for the remainder of the morning.
It’s into the afternoon and night that things will turn downright stormy. The Storm Prediction Center has kept a “moderate” risk for severe weather across our Northwest viewing area and a “slight” risk for severe weather for the remainder of the viewing area. 
I would not be surprised if we see a Tornado Watch issued for at least a portion of the WAFB viewing area around lunchtime. We then could see a Severe T-Storm Watch during the late evening and overnight period. That’s because we should see two waves of t-storm activity. The first wave looks to arrive during the late afternoon into the early evening. This will provide the best opportunity for tornadic activity. Timeframe will be 3-7 PM across the WAFB viewing area. 
Then from 11 PM-3 AM the threat shifts to strong damaging straight line winds as a squall line of showers and t-storms pushes through the area.
Short after sunrise Sunday things should begin to settle down as a cold front sweeps through the area. We won’t see a decrease in cloud cover until Monday though. For Sunday expect cloudy skies with mild temperatures and much lighter winds. Highs will be in the mid 70°s. This will be the better day for shopping this weekend for sure! The cooler air arrives Monday as a secondary front works through the area. Skies will clear by late morning with lows in the mid 40°s and highs only in the mid 50°s.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be dry and mainly clear. The clear skies and calm winds will lead to a light freeze both mornings. Highs will only reach the mid to upper 50°s during the afternoon. The rest of the week will see a slight warming trend and an increase in cloud cover.
As it relates to rain there isn’t much agreement with long range weather models. For now we will keep Thursday and Friday dry but that could change.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Severe Storms Possible Saturday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Short Term Highlights:
The big story over the next 24-36 hours will be the severe weather threat. Most WAFB viewers from Baton Rouge northward will be under a  “Moderate Risk” for severe weather while the remainder of the viewing area is under a “Slight Risk.” The critical risk window will be from Saturday afternoon into the pre-dawn hours Sunday. All the rains end on Sunday, with clearing underway by Monday.

Christmas Week Quickcast:
Sunshine returns by Monday and extends through Thursday, and the days will have a winter-like feel, especially Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Some WAFB neighborhoods along and north of the I-10.12 corridor could see a light freeze on one or both of those two mornings. Afternoons under the sunshine will be comfortably cool.


The Rest of the Weather Story:
Our primary weather focus is on the severe weather potential for Saturday night into the earliest hours Sunday. Models are suggesting a squall line ahead of an advancing cold front that will generate strong to severe thunderstorms as it moves from west-to-east across the viewing area. The greatest threat for severe weather will extend across the Baton Rouge metro area and adjacent areas to the north, northwest and west of the Capital City.

The main severe weather threat will be in the form of damaging winds, but we want to point out that there is the potential for isolated tornadoes. Additionally, forecast models have come into much better agreement over the past 24 hours with regard to the timing of the stormy weather and frontal passage.

We’ll go with a mainly-dry but very muggy start to Saturday, with sunrise temps in the mid to upper 60°s. Areas of fog -- some locally-dense -- will be an issue for some communities, but the morning winds will be running in the 10-15 mph range, sufficient to minimize any concerns for widespread fog development. As a result, we do not anticipate a regional Fog Advisory for inland locations, although fog could be a real nuisance nearer to the coast and along larger waterways.

We’ll go with scattered showers and t-storms developing during the afternoon, well ahead of the cold front. Coverage will increase through the afternoon and into the evening as we await the main energy associated with the forecasted squall line. Right now we anticipate the west-to-east moving squall line to hit the BR metro area during the late evening hours (say, after 9PM) and push through the New Orleans metro area sometime closer to midnight. Some rains could linger into the early, pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning before ending.

The guidance is hinting at a trailing boundary -- essentially a secondary cold front -- that moves through the region on Sunday. While this looks like a “dry” front, it will have enough moisture to keep a decent deck of clouds around through much of Sunday. Some of the clouds could linger into early Monday before a cold and dry Canadian air mass finally moves into the lower Mississippi Valley for Christmas Week.

We’ve already mentioned the cold mornings for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with a slow warming trend that runs into Thursday. In the extended outlook, our next cold front arrives on Friday, producing another dip in the daily temperatures. However, Friday’s front will have only limited moisture to work with, so any rains will be isolated in nature and limited in amounts.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rains Around the Corner

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

For the fourth consecutive night, temperatures dropped faster and further than the computer guidance suggested. Baton Rouge’s Metro Airport dipped to 43° right after midnight, a full 5° lower than most of our “reliable” models projected. However, clouds moved into the region more quickly than expected during the night, with that cloud ‘blanket’ helping temps rise through the remaining pre-dawn hours. By 6AM, Baton Rouge was back in the 50°s. 

Those early morning clouds and pre-dawn warm-up also limited the development of dense fog.

As we told you, it was back to the 70°s for today and we’re keeping highs in the 70°s right through the weekend. As we’ve shown you on-air over the past couple of days, an upper-air ridge currently over the central U.S. continues to warm us up. At the same time, an upper-air trough currently along the U.S. Pacific Coast is expected to swing eastward over the coming days. Guidance has the trough centered over the Southwest U.S. on Friday, moving into the Southern Plains by Sunday, and then lifting out to the northeast by Monday. At the lower-levels, surface high pressure that was over the Lower Mississippi Valley earlier this week has shifted east, promoting southerly flow that (1) is funneling more low-level Gulf moisture into the area and (2) will slowly destabilizing the local atmosphere in the coming days.


The forecast remains mainly-dry through tonight and into Friday morning. Friday starts off under the clouds and rather warm by December standards. Sun-up temps will be around 60° for the BR metro area -- that’s close to the ‘normal’ high for this time of year. Be ready for a return of patchy fog for Friday’s morning commute too, with some pockets of dense fog possible if not likely. We’ll go with scattered afternoon and early evening showers for Friday -- set rain chances at about 30% or so -- not quite as wet as we thought yesterday. So the good news is that it won’t be an all-afternoon, widespread rain on Friday. On the other hand, we could see just enough rain to make the Friday evening commute a real mess, especially along what is sure to be an extra-busy interstate corridor given the holiday weekend leading into Christmas.


Rains taper off Friday night into Saturday morning. Rain returns during the latter half of the day on Saturday: we’re posting rain chances at 60%. The key for Saturday shoppers will be the timing of those rains -- and a willingness to take on the frantic holiday shopping crowds!

We’re expecting only isolated to maybe scattered rains through the middle of the day, with coverage -- and intensities -- increasing during the latter half of the day and into the overnight. Timing of the front has come into better agreement with the American GFS model and the European ECMWF: these models show the heart of the storm energy arriving in the WAFB viewing area during Saturday’s evening hours. By comparison, our in-house RPM model appears to be much slower with the front’s arrival, holding off the main frontal energy until after midnight.

For now, we’ll go with the more traditional GFS and ‘Euro’ timing for the system’s arrival. 

While both models indicate rain continuing past midnight and into early Sunday morning, the GFS shows a faster clear-out following the front’s passage, with rains ending in the BR metro area well before lunchtime. The ‘Euro’ (ECMWF), however, keeps a chance of “backside” rains (clouds and rains behind the front) in the area well into Sunday afternoon. And as for our RPM, although it is slower with the arrival of the main energy, the latest run shows a relatively narrow band of rain that exits the viewing area by the mid-morning, if not sooner.

Severe Threat

More importantly, the latest guidance shows a better opportunity for active-to-severe weather from late Saturday into early Sunday -- the NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has the entire Bayou State under a “Slight Risk” for severe weather during this time frame. While the greatest threats for severe weather will remain to our north, there is certainly a potential for a few strong-to-severe t-storms producing locally heavy rains and pockets of damaging winds in the WAFB viewing area. In addition, the set-up shows a potential for isolated tornadoes developing in the stronger storms ahead of the advancing front.

What’s more, the latest rain-total projections through the weekend from the NWS Weather Prediction Center (WPC) have increased and are now running from 1” to more than 2” for most WAFB communities, with isolated larger totals possible. That’s not enough to produce a serious flood threat but it is likely to create nuisance street flooding and standing water in the usual suspect spots.

Next Week
After that, it all looks good heading into Christmas. The air will turn much cooler, with highs only in the 50°s for Monday and Tuesday, with morning starts in the low to mid 30°s for Tuesday morning and Christmas morning.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rains Arrive for the Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta
As expected, it was another cold start to the day with just about everyone starting Wednesday in the 30°s.  There were even a couple of Weather Watcher sites to the north and east of metro Baton Rouge that reported lows at or near freezing just before sunrise.  And once again, as we’ve seen the past two mornings, a few early morning commuters had to deal with fog -- on the dense side in some spots.
The warming trend we’ve been chatting about this week continued today as well, with most WAFB communities getting into the upper 60°s for Wednesday afternoon highs under sunny skies.  Tonight will be noticeably warmer than the last several nights, with lows ranging from the mid 40°s north of the LA/MS state line to lower 50°s for closer to the coast.  And as we’ve seen the last few mornings, fog will greet some early morning risers.  In fact, our suspicion is that patchy dense fog could be a problem -- we’ll have to watch for the possibility of a Dense Fog Advisory for the Thursday morning start if the winds stay light.
All in all, our thinking for the coming days hasn’t changed much.  A modest upper-level ridge will continue to move our way over the next couple of days, taking afternoon highs into the 70°s. At the surface, high pressure that has been sitting over the Lower Mississippi Valley for the past couple of days will shift east and set-up southeasterly and southerly flow along the Central Gulf Coast.  That means a return of low-level Gulf moisture which will enhance cloud development on Thursday.  Expect mostly cloudy skies by Thursday afternoon and evening, but the day stays dry.
The warm-up continues into Friday and Saturday, with mid to upper 70°s expected for highs on both days.  Unfortunately, those spring-like temperatures will be accompanied by rain on both days.  In fact, rain will be the lead weather story right through the weekend.  None of the three days will be a total wash-out, but just have the umbrella by your side if you are planning on getting to those around-town errands or finalizing the holiday shopping.
An upper-level trough currently developing near the California Coast will swing through the Desert Southwest late Friday then move into the Southern Plains during the weekend.  The trough will then lift northeastward into the mid-Mississippi Valley towards the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley early next week.
With the trough to our west on Friday and Saturday, upper-level southwesterly flow overhead will work with the low-level Gulf moisture to generate scattered showers on Friday.  At the same time a frontal system will set-up over the Southern Plains by Friday.  However, that system slows and lingers to our northwest and west before heading our way Saturday. 
The timing of the weekend frontal passage is still a little fuzzy.  The latest run of the American model (the GFS) has the system moving through late Saturday and early Sunday with Sunday’s rains ended by of before the early afternoon.  The European model (the ECMWF) is a little slower, with rains extending into Sunday afternoon and possibly lingering into the early evening.  Either way, our two preferred medium-range forecast tools bring an end to the rain on Sunday and leave us “dry” through Christmas Day.
Now what about a severe weather threat with the weekend front? 
It’s still too early to make a definitive call.  Strong to severe thunderstorms can’t be ruled out, especially during the latter half of Saturday into Saturday night.  We’ll have daytime heating, a “juicy” atmosphere and the potential for support from relatively fast-moving southwesterly flow aloft.  All of these are factors enhance the opportunity for strong to severe storms, so we’ll need to remain watchful.
However, even with these key ingredients, preliminary indications keep the more active weather to our north through the weekend.  The latest NWS Weather Prediction Center projections for the WAFB viewing area show three-day rain totals running in the 1.0” to 1.5” range, implying that strong to severe storms should be isolated at best.  But as we said, we’ll keep an eye on this as the weekend gets closer.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Not Quite As Cold Wednesday AM

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta
Yes -- Jay was caught by surprise with this morning’s light freeze.  Metro Airport temps dipped to 32° before 5AM and stayed there until well past 7AM.  And the light freeze extended over much of the viewing area, with some 32°s reported as far south as the coastal parishes.
While such a light, brief freeze is little more than an inconvenience for most of us, this morning’s low serves as a great example of how even here in the 21st Century, we have a long way to go to in the world of weather forecasting.  If you were watching last night, you saw that we were calling for a Tuesday morning low in the low to mid 30°s for metro Baton Rouge, but staying above freezing across the Capital City region.  Dew point temperatures -- a first rough guess at how low the temperature can drop -- were running in the mid 30°s between 7-10PM.  We did acknowledge the possibility of a light freeze near and north of the LA/MS state line, but didn’t think the air would get that cold for most WAFB communities.
In fact, our forecast for today’s low was still lower than those posted by the computer guidance models as of yesterday afternoon: our favorite computer forecasts were calling for lows in the 36°-38° range for Metro Airport (AP).  Instead, the low-level air continued to “dry out” (indicated by falling dew points) through the night and that allowed Metro AP’s air temperature to slide to 33° by 3AM and to below freezing well before sunrise. 
Sometimes Mother Nature has her own ideas about how to do things -- even our best forecast models can’t always figure ‘her’ out.
So after another cold start to the day, the clear skies, sunshine and the approaching upper-level ridge of high pressure resulted in a nice warm-up as afternoon readings climbed into the 60°s across the entire viewing area.  We expect mainly clear skies to remain over the central Gulf Coast through Wednesday.  The BR metro area can expect one more morning wake-up in the 30°s for Wednesday’s sunrise -- but this time the BR metro area stays above freezing.  Even our northern viewers up along and north of the LA/MS state line should miss out on a freeze for Wednesday’s wake-up.  Highs on Wednesday afternoon should reach the mid to upper 60°s across the viewing area.
Clouds will return on Thursday while the warming trend continues; just about everyone gets into the 70°s for Thursday afternoon.  And our 7-day forecast keeps afternoon highs in the 70°s right through the weekend.
Thursday’s clouds will be a function of a steady increase in atmospheric moisture through the day but Thursday stays dry, at least through the afternoon and evening.  By late Thursday evening and Friday morning, the first in a series of mid/upper-level disturbances arrives. 
Yesterday we posted scattered rains in the forecast for Friday, but now we’re upping that to “rain likely” by Friday evening.
Yesterday we also mentioned the development of an upper-level trough along the West Coast during the week.  That forecast remains on track, with the trough pushing eastward towards the end of the work week.  It will be centered over the Desert Southwest by Friday, helping to energize a disturbance that will be impacting us, then moves over the Central and Southern Plains through the weekend before lifting towards the northeast by Monday and into Tuesday.
So for Saturday, we’ll have the upper trough to our west, which means low-level moisture flowing inland off the Gulf will be working hand-in-hand with a steady southwesterly flow at the upper levels and occasional upper-level disturbances riding along the upper-level track -- those are the ingredients that should make for a fairly “wet” Saturday.  By Sunday, the trough will help swing our next cold front through the lower Mississippi Valley.  The timing of the front is still a bit in question, but Sunday looks “wetter” than Saturday as the front moves through.
We’ll tweak this weekend outlook in the coming days, but for now we’ll go with a Sunday forecast that has the front draped over the southern parishes by the latter half of the day with the cold front out over the Gulf by Monday morning.  We’ll keep a watch out for the potential for active or severe thunderstorms on Sunday as the front moves through days draw closer -- it’s still a little too early at this stage to be making a call.  Just remember that our winter fronts can produce severe weather at times.
Some of us might still get a light shower or two early Monday, but the skies should be clearing by Monday afternoon if not sooner.  And temperatures behind the front should show a significant drop-off after the run of days in the 70°s -- expect highs to drop into the 50°s for the early part of the week with morning lows in the 30°s by Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Papa Noel should be pleased: our extra-long-range outlook is indicating a couple of cool but fair-and-dry days for December 24th and 25th!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Getting Warmer through the Week

There is certainly no question that we started the week off on the ‘cold side’ even for mid-December. Temperatures dropped to freezing or below this morning for most of the viewing area, with 20°s reported for some WAFB communities near and along the LA/MS state line.
Thankfully, clear skies and sunshine warmed most of us into the upper 50°s to low 60°s by the afternoon. And while we’ve got another cold night ahead, only a handful of our Mississippi viewers can expect another light, brief freeze for Tuesday morning. Early morning lows for the Baton Rouge metro area should only fall into the mid to upper 30°s for Tuesday’s sun-up.
A steady warm-up will continue through the work week, with Baton Rouge highs returning to the 70°s by Thursday and continuing in the 70°s through the weekend. Surface high pressure will remain centered over southern Louisiana through early Wednesday while a weak upper-level ridge takes position overhead -- a combination that not only warms things up but also keeps skies mainly-clear into early Thursday. The surface high will then slide east on Thursday, allowing low and mid-level moisture to return.
An upper-level trough developing along the Pacific Coast on Thursday will drift into the Desert Southwest by Friday, putting us under a steady upper-level flow from the southwest. As we’ve noted over the years, this set-up generally leads to unsettled weather for the central Gulf Coast -- as a result, expect scattered rains to develop in the viewing area by Friday afternoon.
 Sadly, we think you’ll need the umbrella off-and-on throughout the coming weekend -- the last weekend blitz for holiday shopping -- as the upper-level trough swings through the Southern Plains and into the lower Mississippi Valley from Sunday into Monday. For now, we have a surface front slowly tracking through the Plains on Friday into Saturday, then moving through the Bayou State on Sunday into early Monday.
With a little luck, we could see skies clearing by Monday afternoon accompanied by a dose of cooler weather. But the really good news for many is that while Christmas certainly won’t be “white” in Louisiana, it doesn’t look like it will be cold and wet either!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Rain, A Few Storms Late Tonight

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

We’ve spent the better part of the day under the clouds and that help to limit the daytime warm-up. Thankfully, however, it stayed dry through the afternoon and for the evening drive -- and with the traffic already in a bad state even for a Friday, rain would have made the evening commute a real mess!

A look at Titan9 regional radar shows that the rain is already moving through the northern half of the state and we have seen a few light sprinkles to the south and southeast of the Baton Rouge metro area. The way it looks, the rain holds off for most of us until late tonight, with many of WAFB viewers staying well past midnight.

But the rain is coming: we’re going with “rain likely” through the morning hours on Saturday with the rains tapering off by or before mid-day. Saturday’s rains and clouds are courtesy of a cold front that should sweep through the viewing area during the early morning, but we’ll still have some ‘backside’ (post-frontal) clouds and a few showers to deal with. In addition, a weaker secondary cold front will move through the region later in the day. Temps on Saturday should climb into the mid to upper 60°s by the early afternoon, then may start an earlier-than-normal slow fall during the mid-afternoon.

While we can’t entirely rule out a late sprinkle or two, it should be mainly-dry for Saturday’s Cortana Kiwanis Christmas Parade -- the parade kicks-off at 5:30pm and cruises through downtown BR under cloudy skies. Temps during the parade should slowly fall through the 50°s as the parade rolls.

It's a similar forecast for Southeastern football's kickoff against New Hampshire at 6 p.m. Look for clouds and somewhat cooler temps, but only an isolated shower at most.

The clouds linger into Sunday morning before clearing out during by mid-day, leaving us with clear skies for Sunday afternoon and evening. But the air mass will be noticeably cooler, with Sunday’s highs only reaching the low to mid 50°s.

A steady warming trend sets in during the mid-week, but that’s after some cold starts for Monday and Tuesday -- communities along and north of the I-10/12 corridor should be ready for light, brief freezes to start both days. The weather stays dry through Thursday with afternoon highs up around 70° for Thursday as well. Unfortunately, the extended outlook not only calls for scattered rains on Friday but suggests rain in the area for the weekend too.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sunshine Returns Thursday!

You probably walked out the door this morning and wondered what happened to yesterday’s sunshine. Yep…the blue skies of yesterday afternoon were fleeting, with mainly overcast skies for most throughout the day today.

However, a reinforcing cool front that will move through the area tonight should help to flush out most of the cloud cover by Thursday morning. That front will also translate into another chilly morning start, with lows near or just above freezing around metro Baton Rouge tomorrow morning. And despite plenty of sunshine on Thursday, it stays cool as highs only reach the mid 50°s.

Tomorrow’s sunshine will once again be fleeting as an approaching storm system brings a return of clouds to close out the workweek. Friday morning lows will again be near freezing, but afternoon highs should be a tad warmer (lower 60°s) despite generally mostly cloudy skies. Much of Friday should remain dry, with just a few showers expected late in the day.

Rain chances ramp up quickly late Friday night into Saturday morning as a cold front impacts the area. Rain and a few t-storms are likely Saturday morning, with rain chances expected to diminish into the afternoon. Yesterday, I was pretty confident the rains would be out of the area well before dark on Saturday; while most of our guidance still indicates something similar, one reliable model shows the potential for rains to linger into Saturday night. We’ll keep an eye on that for potential impacts to Southeastern’s playoff game Saturday evening.

Skies should clear on Sunday and cooler temperatures will return. Dry and relatively cool weather is expected to continue into at least the early part of next week.

Finally…do you remember where you were 5 years ago today? On this date in 2008, significant snows fell across much of the WAFB viewing area. Baton Rouge officially recorded 3” at the airport, but over 5” was reported in Zachary and Livingston, with up to 8 inches in Amite! That “Sneaux Day” was a pretty rare event for our area…and, sorry, but it doesn’t look like we’ve got any snow in our near-term future!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rains Ending Before Sunrise on Tuesday

Ugly – a single word that describes our weather through the weekend and once again today. While we didn’t see the locally heavy rains that we saw at times yesterday, off-and-on light showers and temperatures that struggled to get above 50° added to the ‘gloom’ that many already feel with the start of a new workweek.

We still have some more rain to get through tonight as an upper-air disturbance passes just to our north. Rains could be a little more significant than what we saw during the day, but most of us shouldn’t see more than another quarter-inch of rain into the overnight. And the good news? The wet weather should exit for most of us by the time you wake up on Tuesday!

The morning commute will be mainly dry but chilly as temps drop into the upper 30°s to lower 40°s for most. And while bright sunshine should be back by lunch time on Tuesday, afternoon highs will once again only climb into the lower 50°s.

Our coldest weather of the week is expected on Wednesday morning when areas near and north of the Capital City could see a brief light freeze. After Wednesday’s cold start, we’ll enjoy more sunshine and temperatures rebounding into the upper 50°s.

Clouds will begin to make a comeback as we head into the latter part of the week in advance of our next storm system. We’ll keep the Thursday forecast dry with just a few isolated showers possible by late Friday.

It looks like the bulk of the rains with this next storm system will occur very late Friday night into Saturday morning. Fortunately, our guidance indicates that unlike this last system, clouds and rainfall should quickly exit by Saturday afternoon/evening and allow for a better second half of the weekend.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Big Changes Around the Corner!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

The week’s biggest weather story so far has been all about the “spring-like” temperatures: 80° for a Baton Rouge high on Tuesday, 82° for the Metro Airport today, and another near-record high in the forecast for Thursday afternoon. In addition, this morning’s low of 69° is the Capital City’s “warmest” morning start on record for December 4th, another sign of the unusual temperatures to begin the month.

This afternoon’s sun/cloud mix will give way to mainly cloudy skies tonight. Once again, with the warm-and-moist Gulf air mass over the central Gulf Coast region, be prepared for patches of fog to develop overnight and into the early morning for Thursday. But just like earlier this morning, we think the winds will be stay up just enough tonight and tomorrow morning to limit a concern for widespread dense fog.

We’ve still got the next cold front scheduled for arrival on Friday and that will mean an end to this warm trend. Ahead of the front, on Thursday afternoon, we’ll call for scattered showers and maybe a thunderstorm or two -- set rain chances at 30% for Thursday afternoon with highs back up around 80° again. In addition, as the front draws closer to the viewing area through Thursday evening and overnight, area rain chances will continue to rise.

Call it “rain likely” for Friday with temps through the morning in the 60°s. The front is expected to slowly move through the viewing area during the day, putting most WAFB viewers on the “cold” side of the front by the afternoon. Friday may well be one of those days when the day’s highest temperatures occur during the morning for many WAFB neighborhoods with temperatures steadily falling throughout the latter half of the day.

The forecast calls for the front to stall and meander along the coast on Saturday -- a set-up that translates into cold “overrunning” rains. For now at least, Saturday looks like a chilly, cloudy and wet day -- with highs struggling to reach 50° for the Red Stick. Truth is, Saturday probably will ‘feel’ colder than the thermometer says given the dampness and our recent run of warm weather.

Sunday is expected to be warmer than Saturday, but not much drier. And even Monday shapes up to be wet, with another surge of chilly air behind the next cold front as we start the work week. Thankfully, the rains end before mid-day Tuesday, but temps will be well-below normal for mid-week with morning starts expected in the 30°s for Tuesday and Wednesday.