Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Less Rainfall on Wednesday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- scattered rains for Wednesday & Thursday
- ‘drier’ for Friday and Saturday
- Edouard becomes the season’s first ‘major’ hurricane
We had to wait until about 1:00pm, but as predicted yesterday, the rains arrived for most WAFB neighborhoods this afternoon.  Radar trends suggest two features at work today: a northbound “sea breeze” front and a southward-sagging band of showers and storms that extended along a west-to-east line from Avoyelles and St. Landry parishes into the eastern Florida Parishes.  Although none of the storms proved ‘severe’, a number were highly-charged with frequent cloud-to-ground lightning, produced locally-heavy downpours and generated some noteworthy wind gusts.  We even received a report of small hail during the early afternoon from the Springfield area (Livingston Parish).
Heavy downpours prompted the NWS to issue a FLASH FLOOD WARNING from approximately 4:00-5:45pm for portions of Ascension, Assumption, Iberville and St. James parishes.
This activity will taper-off into the evening hours, but we expect to see lingering showers -- and possibly a storm or two -- into the late evening.  We’ll carry spotty showers into the Wednesday morning forecast, mainly for areas closer to the coast.  Look for Wednesday sunrise temperatures in the low 70°s for metro Baton Rouge with some pockets of mainly-light fog to accompany the AM commute. 
We expect some rain for Wednesday afternoon but with the percentages set at only 30% -- not the widespread activity like we saw today.  Plan on a sun/cloud mix through the afternoon with temperatures getting up into the low 90°s for many WAFB communities.
Thursday starts with spotty morning showers again and lows in the low 70°s for the Red Stick.  Set afternoon rain chances for Thursday at 30% to 40% with highs in the upper 80°s to around 90° for most WAFB communities.
The fact is, the entire forecast for the next several days remains a little unclear.  We continue to struggle with defining the forecast positions in the next few days of a cool front that separates the warm-and-muggy Gulf air mass currently over us from a cooler-and-less-humid air mass to the north.  Our current thinking has the front meandering somewhere over Louisiana through Thursday before finally sagging south towards the Gulf on Friday. 
Our Friday forecast shapes up to be a pretty good one as does the outlook for Saturday: fair to partly cloudy skies with isolated showers for both days.  Depending on the front’s position, both days could be essentially rain-free with a nice dip in the humidity -- but we’ll have to wait another day or so to see how this pans out.
After that, our next cool front begins to approach south Louisiana from the Plains on Sunday -- guidance suggests that it reaches the state sometime on Monday.  We’ll call for a 30% rain chance for Sunday as the air mass ahead of the front becomes more and more unstable, then go with a 50-50 rain chance or better for Monday. 
Could next week’s front be that “first fall front” suggesting an end to summer heat?  It’s possible, but let’s wait a couple of days to see if next week’s weather picture comes into better focus before we start celebrating!
In the open Atlantic, Edouard was upgraded to a ‘major’ hurricane (Category 3) as of 10:00am this morning -- not just the first ‘major’ hurricane of 2014 but the first ‘major’ since 2012’s Sandy.  But Edouard has already weakened and been downgraded as of 4:00pm to Category 2.  Beyond that, there are no significant changes to the basic track forecast for Edouard, with the system expected to turn more to the NE and stay over the ocean.  The latest forecast suggests that Edouard will continue to slowly weaken but could hold on to hurricane strength into Thursday before succumbing to the cooler waters of the north-central Atlantic.

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