Thursday, May 1, 2014

Staying Nice for Friday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB Storm Team QuickCast:

- mostly cloudy but staying dry overnight  
- cool morning starts again for Friday and Saturday
- partly cloudy for Friday and a fine weekend of weather
This morning’s low of 49° at Metro Airport was more along the lines of 'normal' for March 1st rather than May 1st!  We didn't get anywhere near the record (that would be 40° for May 1st, set back in 1908) but it still was cool enough to break out the sleeves and jackets for the morning wait at the bus stop.  And everyone can expect something close to that again for both Friday and Saturday mornings -- and we doubt many will complain.  Our sunrise forecasts for Friday and Saturday will still range from the upper 40°s to low 50°s for most WAFB communities.
We've been talking about a very slight chance of rain for Friday over the past several days, but the latest guidance tells us that it no longer deserves any serious mention.  Sure, there is still a very, very slight chance for a passing shower overnight and into the pre-dawn hours, so set rain chances over the next 12 hours or so at 10% or less.  Friday afternoon and evening, when it really counts, are looking mild and dry.  With a daytime high in the mid to upper 70°s, all's good for Friday's 'Live After Five' in downtown BR, featuring Long Neck Society (and their brand of rock with a little funk, pop and reggae).
And the weekend outlook remains nearly-perfect.  Sure, a little warmer with highs in the low to mid 80°s for most WAFB neighborhoods for Saturday and Sunday, but both days not only stay dry but they come with a ton o' sunshine -- it's a sunscreen weekend for sure.
However, the Gulf's usual influence on our local climate will become evident by Sunday into Monday as the humidity starts a steady climb.  It doesn't get uncomfortably muggy, just something more typical for early May.  The upcoming work week stays mostly dry with afternoon highs in the mid 80°s for most communities.  But throughout the week, the flow off the Gulf will result in a slow-but-somewhat-steady rise in low-level humidity, tracked by rising daily minimum temperatures and increasing dew points.
When the air is unusually cool like this, it is also unusually "dry" (low humidity).  That means comfortable air and lots of sunshine but just as obviously it also means little or no rain.  While no one is likely to complain about our short spell of low humidity, some people are starting to mumble about the lack of significant rain recently.
We mentioned it yesterday, but it merits a repeat.  A look back at our April rain totals from across the WAFB region shows that most locations recorded 3" to 5" of rain for the month, but almost all of that fell during the first two weeks.  Many sites are reporting no little or no measurable rainfall since mid-April, and our current outlook suggests that it could be May 9-10 before we see anything really significant in the way of rain locally.
We are getting into that time of year when prolonged dry spells can create some real moisture deficits.  At this stage we are still a long way from "drought conditions," but South Louisiana’s natural environment is “designed” to be well-watered just about year-round.  By May, we'd like to see an inch of rain each week, on average, to keep the vegetation happy.
Hopefully a return to a more typical rainfall pattern will commence soon.

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