Thursday, November 20, 2014

Strong Storms Possible This Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- warming trend into the weekend
- “SLIGHT RISK” for severe weather late Saturday

It turned a bit chillier this morning than we had expected, with Metro Airport (BTR) and McComb (MCB) both slipping to 37° and Hammond’s Airport (HDC) dropping to 34°. A handful of area Weather Watchers posted lows in the 33° to 36° range but we found no “freeze pockets” for the morning start. What’s more, the warm-up we’ve been chatting about kicked-in today as most WAFB communities saw highs in the upper 60°s to low 70°s -- something closer to the ‘normal’ high for this time of year.

The warming trend continues tonight into Friday, with morning lows in the upper 40°s and Friday afternoon highs returning to the low 70°s under partly cloudy skies. It will be occasionally breezy into Friday afternoon, but all in all it will be a nice November day and a great way to end the work week. 

The First Alert forecast calls for 70°s through the weekend and for Monday as well, with highs in some areas reaching the upper 70°s on Sunday. But the BIG weather story for the next few days is the developing stormy weather threat set for the latter half of Saturday into early Sunday morning. A storm system expected to gather strength over the Southern Plains on Saturday will get an energy boost from moist-and-mild Gulf air feeding into it as it marches to the east. 

Although the NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) currently centers the region of greatest severe-weather threat (“ENHANCED RISK”) across central and southeastern Texas, the entire WAFB viewing area is included under a “SLIGHT RISK” for severe weather from late Saturday into early Sunday. We’ll be on the lookout for an active squall line ahead of an advancing Pacific cold front with the main weather threats being damaging winds and isolated tornadoes for our area. 

In addition to the SPC’s severe weather potential on Saturday night, the NWS Weather Prediction Center (WPC) continues to call for area storm totals on the order of 1” to 2” with locally-higher totals. Rains of this magnitude will not be a serious flood threat but could produce another round of nuisance flooding in the typical spots, leave standing water in poorly-drained areas, and generate short-term headaches for area drivers.

Once the main line of action moves to our east early Sunday, the weather should steadily improve through the rest of the day. However, unlike what we would normally expect, a significant cool-down doesn’t begin until early next week. A second Pacific front will follow on the heels of Saturday’s system, so we won’t get the normal wind shift from the northwest. A southerly-to-southwesterly flow is likely to remain in place through Sunday, allowing for Sunday afternoon temps to reach the mid to upper 70°s for many of us.

That second front moves through the region on Monday morning: then the winds come around with a cooler-and-less-humid northwesterly flow that continues into mid-week. Look for morning lows on Tuesday in the upper 30°s to low 40°s with mid to upper 30°s for Wednesday morning.

At this point we aren’t expecting a significant freeze event for the viewing area next week, although we could see a brief, light freeze near and north of the LA/MS state line on Wednesday morning. What’s more, it looks like we stay rain-free from the latter half of Sunday right through Thanksgiving Thursday. Our extended outlook currently calls for a partly-cloudy and mild Thanksgiving Day. However, for those already making their shopping plans for ‘Black Friday,’ we think that the “to do” list may include carrying an umbrella.

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