Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Bit Drier into the Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB Storm Team QuickCast:

- pattern turns a little ‘drier’ for the next several days
- some may flirt with mid-90°s over the weekend

Take a closer look at the radar animations this afternoon and early evening and focus on the movement of the showers and storms. The movement today was different from the past two days. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we saw a number of storm clusters moving from the north or northwest towards the south and southeast. As we’ve mentioned in the past, the storms with more of a north-to-south motion often display greater lightning activity than storms moving from the Gulf inland. That south-to-north (or SW to NE) was the today’s pattern compared to the two previous days. 

Yet a look at the motion over the broader region this afternoon still shows active storm clusters by-passing Louisiana to the north and east and heading into the southeast states, continuing with a NW-to-SE motion, running in the flow of the upper-level trough positioned to our north and northeast. But for our area, today’s storms had more of a “sea breeze” appearance, a pattern more typical for the summer season along the central Gulf Coast.

We expect high pressure to become a more dominant player in our local weather over the next few days -- that means we’ll back down on the rain chances. Now do understand, we are not talking about out-and-out entirely dry weather, but we’ll run with rain chances in the 20% to 30% range for Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- down from the 30% to 40% numbers we’ve been posting for the weekend over the previous few days.

Of course, at this time of year lower rain chances usually mean less cloud cover -- and that means more sunshine and higher afternoon temperatures. In fact, much of the guidance is calling for highs in the mid 90°s for most of our viewing area for the upcoming weekend. That said, while we won’t be surprised to see some communities reach 95° or more over the weekend, we’ll call for highs a couple of degrees lower than that for most WAFB neighborhoods. But let’s face it: what is the ‘real’ difference between 93° and 95°?

Into the extended outlook, we’re getting some hints at another mid-summer cool front trying to make its way south and into the northern Gulf. Frankly, we are always a little skeptical of these longer-range projections: too often, the fronts fail to develop the southward momentum suggested by extended-outlook forecast models. But it does look as if a front could at least get close enough to add to the local instability and lift. As a result, we’ll look for improved rain chances by the middle of next week. Let’s see if it really pans out.

And in the tropics, the National Hurricane Center and the U.K. Meteorological Office agree that there are no potential developments in the works for at least the next four or five days.

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