Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Freeze Watches, Wintry Precipitation?

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

Today Recap / Short Term Outlook

For metro Baton Rouge, it’s one ‘freeze’ down ... and two to go for Baton Rouge.  And that’s just for this week!  Some of our northern viewers can expect three more freezes between now and Saturday morning as more cold air spills out of Canada all the way to the Gulf Coast.
This morning’s freeze lasted for about 8 hours at Metro Airport (BTR), about 9 hours in Hammond (HDC) and more than 10 hours at McComb (MCB) -- nothing extraordinary, just another in this winter’s above-average run of very cold mornings.
Today’s welcomed warm-up into the 50°s was courtesy of southerly winds off the Gulf.  The wind field was set-up by a core of surface high pressure shifting to the east while our next cold front approaches from the northwest.  It gets cold again tonight -- back into the 30°s -- with most WAFB neighborhoods will stay above freezing.  However, if your near or north of the state line, you should be ready for a light freeze for Thursday’s wake-up.

Another Shot of Cold Air Arrives Thursday

We’ve got the next front moving through the viewing area during the first half of Thursday, delivering yet another dose of Arctic air.   That means 20°s again for Friday morning -- in fact, it may be a degree or so colder on Friday morning than it was this morning!

Wintry Weather Late Thursday - Friday?

What about some “winter white stuff” in the wake of Thursday’s front?  Our latest look at some of the more reliable models suggests a slight chance of a light wintry mix or snow flurries in the forecast for late Thursday into early Friday morning.  There’s no doubt that the atmosphere will be cold enough from bottom to top: the limiting factor will be moisture.
Snow -- with accumulations -- appears likely in Texas, maybe even parts of western Louisiana.  But this far east?  The air is looking awfully dry.  Still, we won’t be totally surprised to hear about a flurry or two in the WAFB viewing area, with the best chance being for viewers on the west side of the Atchafalaya.  We’ll go with a 20% chance of seeing some flakes on the other side of the Atchafalaya Basin, with chances under 20% for communities east of the Mississippi.
Wintry precipitation forecasts are rarely clear-cut in our part of the world, so stay tuned and we'll take another look at things on Thursday for any potential changes.

Big Chill for Friday

Frankly, we think Friday’s bigger story will be the very cold start and the lack of warm-up in the afternoon. Freeze and Hard Freeze Watches have been posted for Thursday night into Friday morning as temperatures once again will likely plunge into the 20°s. And unlike today, when we had sunshine warm us into the 50°s after the wake-up bone-chiller, Friday’s skies will be dominated by clouds, blocking the sunshine and keeping temps down.  In fact, some WAFB neighborhoods will see highs only into the upper 30°s, with the rest of the viewing area struggling to get into the low 40°s on Friday afternoon.
With a cool Friday, it makes it easier for the lingering effects of Friday’s Arctic air mass to take us back below freezing once again for Saturday morning.  At least we’ll get some sun by Saturday afternoon, delivering highs in the 50°s.  By Sunday, we return to something a little closer to normal for this time of year.  Although Sunday morning will be cold with lows in the 30°s, most of us start the day above freezing.  And mostly sunny skies for Sunday afternoon will mean highs up around 60° or so for most of us.

Extended Outlook

Into the extended, we’re seeing signs of freezes returning next week as the eastern U.S. just can’t get out from under the persistent upper-level troughing that keeps driving polar and Arctic air masses deep into the nation’s Southland.
So keep the comforter nearby . . . and please remain in guard when using space heaters!

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