Thursday, December 10, 2015

Strong to Severe Storms Possible on Sunday

Fog has been our primary weather concern over the last few days, but our focus is shifting to the potential for some strong to severe storms on Sunday. The storms will be driven by a potent upper-level storm system and associated cold front moving through the Deep South this weekend.

Storms will begin to develop along and in advance of the cold front in parts of Texas by late Saturday.

The Storm Prediction Center has placed eastern Texas, parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and NW Louisiana under a 'slight risk' of severe weather from Saturday into the early morning hours of Sunday due to the anticipated storm development.

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issues a detailed severe weather outlook through 3 days, with a more general summary for days 4 through 8. The latest 'Day 4' outlook covering Sunday still shows the SPC highlighting the potential for severe weather locally. The primary threat from any strong storms would be damaging winds, but an isolated tornado can't be ruled out.

The cold front should move through the area fairly quickly on Sunday limiting the potential for flooding rains, but we're still expecting 1" to 2" of rainfall on average, with locally higher amounts.

The bottom line: make sure you've got a reliable way to keep abreast of any threatening weather that develops on Sunday. A NOAA Weather Radio is a great tool to have in your arsenal and of course we encourage you to download our free weather app at the following links:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Severe Weather Threat Arriving

We've warned you for close to a week about to the potential for severe weather and that threat appears to be playing out. A Tornado Watch is posted for metro Baton Rouge and SW Mississippi through 8 p.m., with a Watch for Acadiana and SW Louisiana through 4 p.m.

You may think that with the watch set to expire at 8 p.m. locally, that would mark the end of the severe weather threat. However, we're likely to either see an extension of that watch or a new watch issued later tonight. We are essentially facing the potential for two separate rounds of severe weather. The initial round will be in the form of scattered strong to severe storms well in advance of the cold front. These 'discrete' thunderstorm cells will have a somewhat better chance of becoming tornadic, although any tornadoes are still expected to be isolated.

The second, primary threat of severe weather will accompany a squall line. Typically squall lines produce more in the way of straight-line wind damage, but isolated tornadoes will remain possible. It is the squall line that will impact most of the area late tonight. Radar trends suggest that the models may be a little too slow in moving the squall line eastward, but look for the primary threat window to be roughly 8 p.m. - midnight for metro Baton Rouge.

A Flash Flood Watch also remains in effect for all of our viewing area through 10 a.m. on Wednesday. 

We don't expect rains as bad as what we experienced in late October, but widespread totals of 2" to 4" can be expected, with locally higher amounts possible.

Stay with the First Alert Storm Team throughout the remainder of today and tonight as we track the approaching storms. We'll have coverage on air, online and in our free weather app. Also, make sure you have a way to receive weather warnings before going to bed tonight. We highly recommend a NOAA Weather Radio which will sound an alarm if a warning is issued for your area.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween Gloom Compliments of Mother Nature

The threat of rain and storms has forced most communities around the area to move Trick-or-Treating to Friday night (click here for updated times). While there may not be any real legal punch behind the move, the not-no-subtle suggestion from area leaders is the right move to make.

It's simple -- Friday likely stays dry while Mother Nature may outdo ghosts and goblins with the fright factor on Halloween.

Heading into Saturday, the threatening weather has also prompted the 10/31 Consortium to move their planned parade from a 2 p.m. start to 9:30 a.m. instead. That should be good enough to avoid the worst of the weather, but showers will be possible, even during the morning hours.

Outside of impacts to Trick-or-Treating and other Halloween events, the big story for the weekend will center around rain amounts and the potential for additional flooding. Most of our computer guidance paints anywhere from 1" to 4" of rain across the area through the weekend. However, our in-house RPM model has had some runs today with bands of even higher amounts. The latest available run as of Thursday evening delivers widespread 3" to 5" totals, with locally higher amounts.

Most area rivers have already crested or are near crest tonight, but we'll need to keep an eye on the potential for additional rises over the weekend, depending on exactly how much rain we receive.

At this point, we don't expect widespread severe weather, but a few isolated strong storms will be possible, particularly Saturday afternoon and evening. The Storm Prediction Center has our area under a 'marginal' risk for severe weather.

We'll be here through the weekend to keep you updated on the expected rains and any strong storms that may develop. You can also track the rains on your smartphone or tablet using our free weather app:

Apple download:

Android download:

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Weekend Soaking in Perspective...and Another Round Ahead?

By Steve Caparotta

Were you among the plethora of south Louisiana residents begging for some rainfall through the first few weeks of October? I was certainly in that crowd, growing tired of running my sprinkler to keep my lawn and garden from wilting in the dry and warm weather. But as they say, be careful what you wish for.

In a remarkable turn of events, we went from 'extreme drought' in some locations to dealing with flooding in the course of just a couple of days. In fact, the most recent Drought Monitor that was released last Thursday, October 20th, had more than 50% of Louisiana classified as being in an 'extreme drought', with over 13% of North Louisiana under the worst classification of 'exceptional drought'. It's fair to say the map below will see significant changes when a new update is released this Thursday.

As it turns out, a stretch of 24 days without measurable rain in Baton Rouge and much of the surrounding area and an overall dry stretch since the beginning of September turned out to be a blessing this past weekend. While we certainly dealt with some localized flooding in urban areas and continue to monitor rising rivers, it could have been much worse had there been any rain of consequence in the prior days and weeks.

How big of a rain event did we see this past weekend? For most of the area, it was the most significant multi-day rain since Tropical Storm Allison produced flooding in 2001. Sunday's rainfall ranks as the 5th largest single-day total in Baton Rouge in records that date back to 1892!

And the 2-day rain total for Saturday and Sunday in Baton Rouge ranks as the 6th largest 2-day event since 1892.

It's also remarkable to consider that through October 23rd, Baton Rouge Metro had only recorded a trace of rainfall. Three days later, 2015 stood as the third wettest October on record!

One other way to measure a rain event is by using a tool that climatologists call 'recurrence intervals'. Without getting into the dirty (and boring to many) details, recurrence intervals are a statistical measure of how frequently a given location can expect certain rain amounts over a given duration. Using a NOAA tool available online, we find that the 2-day rain total of just under 11 inches in Baton Rouge is a roughly 1-in-25-year event. In other words, people in Baton Rouge can expect to see rains like this past weekend roughly once every 25 years when averaged over a LONG period of time. Another way of looking at it is that there's a 4% chance in any given year of seeing a 2-day rain like this past weekend.

Recurrence intervals for rainfall in Baton Rouge. Source:
While most of our neighborhoods are beginning to dry out, rivers are still rising and we'll see additional problems through the week for those who live along or near rivers. And the bad news? It looks like we've got more rain on the way for the weekend.

The rains will be somewhat of a double-whammy, not only arriving over the weekend, but potentially turning into a real issue for Trick-or-Treaters and Halloween parties. There's still some uncertainty in the timing of the rains over the weekend, but it looks like the wet weather will begin to arrive by Saturday afternoon and continue into Sunday.

The map below shows that NOAA's Weather Prediction Center is already forecasting an additional 2" to 4" of rain for much of our area over the weekend.

One more thing to note that we've already mentioned at times in our weathercasts. One of the strongest El Niño events on record is ongoing in the Pacific. History tells us that during El Niño events, fall and winter tend to see above-normal rainfall along the Gulf Coast. With that in mind, it's quite possible that these rain events will only become more frequent in the coming months. The currently 3-month outlook for Nov-Jan from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is in line with that thinking, calling for above-normal chances for above-normal precipitation in our region.

Stay dry, everyone, and count on the WAFB First Alert Storm Team on air, online and on your mobile device for the latest on any storm systems headed our way.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Scattered Storms Return for the Holiday Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

July 3rd WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- back to scattered afternoon t-storms for the independence Day weekend
- drier and a little warmer for next week

Happy 4th to you and yours!

We doubt that anyone is complaining about our back-to-back dry days, thanks to high pressure at the mid and upper levels putting the clamps on afternoon thundershower development.

Unfortunately, the “lid” comes off the atmosphere over the weekend and we return to scattered afternoon showers and t-storms for both Saturday and Sunday. In fact, we’re leaning towards “rain likely” for Saturday (rain chances at 50% to 60% for Saturday afternoon), and there is a potential for a few strong to severe storms in the WAFB area over the two-day span.

The upper-level high (a mid/upper-air ridge, the “lid” on the pot) that put the brakes on afternoon rains yesterday and today will give ground over the weekend. That will let our moist and unstable Gulf air do its thing: build mid-day and afternoon showers and storms without an inhibitor to slow their vertical growth. Neither day will result in all-day rains for your backyard, but we expect a pretty active radar depiction for both afternoons as individual t-storms build, move and subside through the day. If you’ve got outdoor plans on either day, make sure that you have an indoor or under-cover option ready to go.

After muggy morning starts in the low to mid 70°s for both Saturday and Sunday around metro Baton Rouge, look for temperatures to climb into the upper 80°s to around 90° before the clouds and rains knock the temperatures back through the afternoon.

As for the Saturday evening “Fireworks on the Levee,” we expect the rains to have dissipated by showtime, but we could still have isolated rains in the area as late as 7:00 or even 8:00pm. We’re thinking that temperatures for the 9:00pm showtime will be in the upper 70°s to low 80°s on the levee.

Into next week, the ridge returns, taking rain chances back down into the ”isolated” category for just about every day next week -- yep, too bad the ridge had to retreat during the weekend. With the drier pattern in the forecast for next week, plan for muggy morning sunrises in the low to mid 70°s for most WAFB communities, with highs in the low 90°s just about every day.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Mainly Dry Again for Friday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

July 2nd WAFB First Alert Quickcast:
- hot, breezy and mostly dry for Friday
- scattered showers & t-storms expected for both weekend days

Okay, our “mainly dry” forecast for today took a big hit in a number of neighborhoods before 7:00am thanks to a band of mainly-light showers draped over the viewing area. Those showers fizzled out by or before mid-morning and the gray cloud deck had largely thinned before lunchtime. With the thinning clouds, mid-day and afternoon sunshine took temperatures into the 90°s for the afternoon.

Even as late as 3:00pm this afternoon, Doppler was “all clear” across the WAFB viewing area. A rogue, spotty shower or two might pop-up during the late afternoon or early evening, but we expect that just about everyone stays dry into the evening and overnight too.

Our Friday forecast calls for another mainly-dry day like today … with the big exception being no morning showers like some of us experienced this morning. After a muggy Friday morning start in the low to mid 70°s for many WAFB communities, we’ll climb once again into the low 90°s for Friday afternoon, with spotty showers, at best. Add in the afternoon humidity and that low 90° reading will ‘feel like’ 100° or more at the peak of the afternoon heat. Then it’s a warm and dry Friday evening and mostly fair skies into the night.

Out mostly-dry Thursday and Friday are courtesy of a western U.S. upper-air ridge building just a bit farther east. That ridge has pushed drier and slightly warmer air into the middle levels over the Bayou State -- and that serves as a rain-cloud inhibitor.

Unfortunately, the dry spell doesn’t hold through the weekend. The ridge softens and retreats westward allowing our locally-unstable air a better chance to build vertically during the afternoons: bigger afternoon cumulus clouds usually means more rain-clouds and better rain coverage. We’re still not too concerned about any kind of severe weather threat for either Saturday or Sunday, but we’ll go with rain chances at 40% to 50% or so for both days. Of course, with those elevated rain chances, we can’t rule out one or two strong storms on either afternoon.

So be ready to dodge the rains during both afternoons. We don’t anticipate all-day rains in either case and not everyone gets wet each day … but have a plan to get out of the weather should storms roll through your neighborhood. The good news is that we expect Saturday’s mainly-afternoon rains to be out of the way for Saturday evening’s fireworks and festivities.

Headed into next week, upper-level ridging builds back over the area, knocking rain chances back to around 20% to 30% for just about every afternoon. (Too bad that isn’t the cast for the weekend, eh?)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Scattered T-Storms Again on Wednesday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

June 30th WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- scattered afternoon showers & t-storms return for Wednesday
- isolated rains for Thursday & Friday
- back to a summer routine for the July 4th weekend

Looking for WAFB’s Weather App?  Find it here:
- Apple users click here:
- Android users click here:
.. or text WEATHERAPP to 99009 …

And for yet another day, some fairly strong t-storms rocked parts of the viewing area.  Unlike last night’s late-night storms and the action last Tuesday and Wednesday, these storms were not out of the north and northeast.  However, they were still quite energetic and lightning-laden, fueled by our very most and unstable Gulf air.  What’s more, they got an additional boost from a pair of features working together: a sea-breeze-like wave heading inland and what appears to be a broad-but-weak non-tropical disturbance moving to the west-northwest over the western Gulf.

Bottom line: a very active middle of the afternoon for metro Baton Rouge and western Livingston Parish, sections of the Felicianas and points west including parts of Pointe Coupee, Avoyelles and St. Landry parishes.  Once again, the most noteworthy aspect of these storms was the lightning - - which is credited with power outages and even one or more fires.  But we can’t ignore the reports of small hail from WAFB viewers as well as locally-heavy downpours that produced more rounds of street flooding.

The action will wind down into the evening and most of us will stay dry through the overnight and early morning hours on Wednesday.  We could see a few showers down near the coast for Wednesday’s sunrise, but the morning commute for metro BR should be a dry one for just about everyone.  Plan for a muggy, partly-to-mostly cloudy start to Wednesday with morning temperatures in the mid 70°s.

For Wednesday afternoon, here they come again: 50% rain chance with highs getting up to around 90° before the rains arrive. 

The weather gets much quieter for Thursday and Friday, with rain chances for both days currently posted at 20% or less.  Both days start off in the mid 70°s for the Red Stick and afternoon highs reach the low 90°s for most, with a few neighborhoods potentially sneaking into the mid 90°s.

And into the Fourth of July weekend, we return to something fairly typical for this time of year: morning starts in the low to mid 70°s for the metro area, afternoon highs in the low 90°s, and scattered mainly-afternoon t-showers for both days.

Friday, June 26, 2015

More Rain This Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

June 26th WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- weekend cool front still on the forecast board

Today was yet another afternoon with scattered showers and storms … but the action was less substantial than what we saw on Thursday and nothing at all like the big boomers and excessive rains of Tuesday and Wednesday.  Today was something more “normal” for a summer day in the viewing area.

There is a change coming this weekend in the form of a summer cool front.  We can’t call summer fronts “rare” but they certainly aren’t very common.  During the winter and spring, we can expect to see five or six frontal passages -- sometimes even more -- each month, on average.  By comparison, during the summer season, that number drops to something closer to an average of one or two passages per month.  And often, our summer fronts don’t push all the way through the area: they stall near or along the coast and sit there until they fizzle-out.

That is precisely what we are expecting this weekend: a cool front will slide south out of the U.S. Plains and reach the WAFB area by Saturday afternoon and evening.  Then it simply stalls along or near the coast for the remainder of the weekend.

If that front would continue southward and move out over the Gulf, we would get a nice change in our weather.  A completed frontal passage would deliver slightly cooler temperatures and, even more welcomed, a big drop in our local humidity.  (90° afternoons don’t feel so bad if the air is less humid).  Unfortunately, our guidance is suggesting that the weekend front will stall somewhere along or near the coast late Saturday and then linger there into Monday before dissipating.

Fronts usually mean rain in the local forecast no matter what time of year.  So our weekend cool front will be a focus for rains on Saturday afternoon and evening -- by adding extra lift to our typical hot, humid and unstable sub-tropical Gulf air.  Then, with the front lingering near the coast into Sunday, we’ll keep “rain likely” in the overnight and morning forecast for our viewing area.

In the spring, a frontal set-up like this could mean some nasty weather and another round of potentially large rain totals.  Fortunately, summer fronts along the Gulf Coast tend to be less energetic than their winter and spring counterparts.  That said, we’ll still get showers and storms with this frontal boundary and we can’t rule out a few strong to severe storms as it settles over the area.  But with the front over the area at night rather than during the heat of the day, the threat for severe storms is reduced somewhat.

The rains will continue into Sunday morning, but rains on Saturday afternoon and into the overnight hours will take a big bite out of the local atmosphere’s storm energy, with rains winding down as we head towards Sunday mid-day and afternoon.  We’re not ready to say “rain free” for Sunday afternoon, but it’s looking like isolated showers with the majority of WAFB neighborhoods staying dry into Sunday afternoon and early evening.  In addition, clouds and morning rains on Sunday will slow the daytime warm-up, with just about all of us topping out in the 80°s for Sunday afternoon.

So how “cool” will it get?  Most viewers in the coastal parishes will get little or no relief from the humidity, which means not much change in terms of morning lows on Sunday and Monday.  For the northern half of the viewing area, if the front can make its way as far south as the coastal zone, at least some communities north of the I-10/12 corridor could slip into the upper 60°s on one or both mornings. 

We’ll go with morning minimums on both days close to 70° for metro Baton Rouge: not much of a change but at least a couple of degrees cooler -- and a little less humid -- than the past several days.

As for next week, our current extended outlook calls for a return to our traditional summer routine at least through mid-week: morning lows in the low to mid 70°s, most afternoons climbing to 90° or more, and scattered mainly-afternoon showers and storms just about every day.

How about the tropics?  Dead quiet.  While there are a few tropical waves running in the easterly tropical flow (and that is normal), none of them show any potential for development.

Eyes to the skies on Saturday afternoon … but here’s hoping that you get to enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hot & Humid, Isolated Showers

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

June 17th WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- ‘Bill’ continues chugging northward
- summer heat, humidity and afternoon showers locally

Tropical Depression Bill continues moving steadily to the north and is still expected to begin a turn to the northeast over the next 24 hours. Bill has been quite the rainmaker for parts of Texas -- sadly, in some places that really didn’t need more rain. 

For most of Louisiana, however, Bill failed to leave much of a calling card. While there have been some pockets of 1” to 2” rains over the western parishes, and even T-Storm Warnings in the northwestern part of the state, most of the Bayou State saw little in the way of noteworthy weather. Thank you for that favor, Bill!

We should note that while Bill’s landfall was roughly 170 miles southwest of Cameron Parish, the Lake Charles NWS office has reported multiple locations in that parish with sustained winds of 40 mph or more -- tropical-storm strength. And the NHC’s wind field projection during Bill’s peak strength suggested that tropical-storm winds could indeed reach into the westernmost portions of Cameron Parish. So technically, does this confirm a tropical-storm impact by Bill on the Bayou State? It will be interesting down the road to see how the NOAA tropical experts evaluate it.

Meanwhile, weatherwise for us, it’s shaping up for a steady dose of typical summer weather for the central Gulf Coast right into the weekend. The line-up reads like this: morning lows in the low to mid 70°s, afternoon highs in the low 90°s, and a steady influx of humid Gulf air that keeps dew points in the 70°s. That will mean afternoon Heat Index readings topping out in the upper 90°s for many WAFB neighborhoods, with occasional readings at 100° or more. 

Be extra careful in the heat, especially if you are spending time under direct sunshine. And please remember the pets too!

Rains chances will run in the 20% to 30% range for Thursday and Friday and probably right through the weekend. As we’ve mentioned over the past few days, the upper-air ridge centered over the Southeast U.S. that steered Bill away from us also kept rain chances in our area on the lower end (isolated at best) over the past couple of days. That ridge is likely to shrink a bit and shift a little eastward over the next couple of days, allowing for ever-so-slightly higher chances for afternoon showers on Friday and Saturday. But even then, we’re talking 30%, which is still at or below normal for mid to late June.

As we head into Sunday and next week, models are indicating the development of upper-air ridging over the Desert Southwest, putting us under the influence of dry, northwesterly flow at the mid- and upper-levels. That should keep rain chances in the 20% to 30% range for Sunday and Monday, and possibly right through the middle of the upcoming work week.

So it’s summer heat-and-humidity for the end of the work week and the weekend, with the occasional passing shower that might be welcomed as a nice mid-afternoon heat-breaker.

And in the tropics, the NHC notes four tropical waves over the Atlantic Basin, with a fifth about to move off the western coast of Africa, but none show any significant signs for potential development, at least not in the next three to five days.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bill Moving Inland...Hot, Humid Locally

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

June 16th WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

T.S. Bill moving inland over Texas
- muggy mornings followed by hot-and-humid afternoons will be the rule locally

T.S. Bill made landfall along Matagorda Island along the central Texas Gulf Coast just prior to the lunch hour today.  Peak sustained winds at landfall were estimated at a respectable 60 mph with higher gusts, making Bill a formidable tropical storm as he headed inland.

After making landfall, Bill stalled and meandered along the coast for several hours.  By 3:00pm, however, it looked as though Bill had begun slowly moving again to the North to NNW, and the 4:00pm NHC Advisory indicated that Bill had begun weakening with sustained winds at 50 mph.

The tropical forecast keeps Bill well to our west through mid week.  ‘His’ impacts in Louisiana will be periodic rains for the western parishes, but even there most rain totals through week’s end will come in at around an inch or less.  And for us in WAFB-land?  Very little in the way of a Bill weather signature other than a breezy couple of days.

For Texas and Oklahoma, however, it’s another round of very soggy weather.  The forecast from the NWS Weather Prediction Center (WPC) indicates a swath of 4” to 8” rains extending from the coast into the middle of the Red River Valley (where they just endured record-setting rains).  And that’s where Bill will likely have ‘his’ biggest effect: prolonging the high water along the Red River is it passed through northwestern and into central Louisiana.

What Bill does give WAFB viewers is a quick refresher course that tropical systems can bubble-up fairly quickly over the Gulf.  Texas coastal residents had only 36 to 48 hours to prep for this system: would you have been ready for a couple of days without power had Bill taken a turn to the northeast and beat a hasty path in our direction?  Bill serves as a reminder to make sure that you, your family and your business have “tropical game plans” in place and that you are ready to go.

Meanwhile, we’ll get an extended run of relatively dry weather through the week and weekend.  A high-pressure ridge centered over the southeast U.S. appears ready to remains in place into next week.  That same ridge is the key steering agent accounting for Bill’s forecast path, with the western margin of that ridge extending across the Bayou State and into East Texas.

While the ridge won’t fully deter afternoon showers from popping up in our viewing area, it will be a persistent inhibitor to raincloud formation through the coming weekend.  We’re posting regional rain chances in the 20% to 30% range for most WAFB communities right into next week. 

Less cloud cover means more sunshine and that adds to the usual daytime heating.  In the meantime, our low-level flow will continue to come off the Gulf, keeping the air humid.  With dew points in the 70°s, we can expect morning minimums to stay in the low to mid 70°s right through the next seven days for the Red Stick.  And that moist air will combine with daytime highs in the low to mid 90°s to push peak daily Heat Index readings up to near or even above 100°!

So, enjoy the drier weather spell … but be extra careful in the summer heat!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Tropical Rains for Texas...Minimal Impacts Locally

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

June 15th WAFB First Alert Quickcast:
- much attention on the western Gulf and Invest 91L

- much attention on the western Gulf and Invest 91L
- declining rain chances locally over the next few days

Yes, a good deal of attention this weekend and today was focused -- and remains focused -- on the tropical disturbance in the western Gulf - Invest 91L.  Assessment of Hurricane Hunter data earlier in the day by the national Hurricane Center (NHC) pros indicated that the disturbance has yet to achieve the complete structure to be classified as a tropical cyclone (either a tropical depression or a tropical storm) - - however, there is little doubt that the system is awfully close as of this afternoon. 

Why not a tropical storm as yet?  The NHC stated that a clearly-defined low-pressure center has yet to sufficiently consolidate to earn cyclone classification, although there is ample evidence of tropical-storm force winds in the region.  Another Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to visit the disturbance this evening, and we suspect that it will collect the evidence needed for upgrade to Tropical Storm Bill. 

Virtually every major tropical forecasting model takes this system into the Texas Coast and then northward into the Southern Plains -- bad news for the already-flooded Red River region but good news for the Bayou State.  Parts of Louisiana could receive some east-side wrap-around rainbands from the tropical system over the several days but it appears as though the main storm energy misses us.

Note that there are Coast Flood Advisories - - and Warnings - - either already in effect or anticipated for Louisiana, but most of this is a result of the steady southeasterly winds that have been impacting the region and are expected to continue.  However, winds along the central and western Louisiana coast are likely to show additional increases due to the larger-scale flow around the tropical system as it continues along a northwesterly track into Texas.

For most of us, however, we can expect a turn to a slightly drier regime over the next couple of days or so.  High pressure ridging, centered over the southeastern U.S. will serve as a modest inhibitor for our afternoon thundershowers -- not fully shutting off the afternoon rains but keeping them in the 20% to 30% range for our viewing area for the next three days.

The “muggies” will stay with us all week long.  While we may see a little less in the form of rain coverage, moist Gulf air will remain in place all week long.  Look for afternoon highs in the 90°s each day, with morning starts in the low to mid 70°s for most WAFB neighborhoods - - and upper 70°s at sunrise for the more southern parishes.

So here we are, only two weeks into the Hurricane Season and we could have our second ‘named’ storm?  What happened to the forecast for below-average storm numbers?  It’s still on the table, but we admit that the average date of the second ‘named’ storm in the Atlantic is August 1st!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Staying Soggy This Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

June 11th WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- rain likely through the weekend

As expected, the showers and storms were rather numerous for our area today.  It took a little time for the action to really get going and fair to partly-cloudy morning skies for many WAFB neighborhoods allowed the sun to drive temperatures up to near 90° by or even before lunchtime.  However, Doppler radar became quite active into the afternoon and the rains knocked temperatures down into the 70°s and 80°s for many communities by mid-afternoon. 

Fortunately, there were no ‘severe’ storms in our area today but a few storms did become rather strong … and a few neighborhoods did receive a pretty good soaking.

In the meantime, satellite imagery continues to show a consistent counter-clockwise spin over the northern Gulf, located just off the Louisiana coast.  This mid/upper-air low/trough was the key factor in today’s wet pattern and it will remain a factor for Saturday and probably Sunday too.  

The circulation around the low/trough will strengthen our typical summertime inbound flow of Gulf moisture over the next two days.  Indeed, water vapor imagery shows a very moist plume of air on the eastern flank of the westward-traveling trough.  In addition, somewhat cooler air aloft associated with the trough creates a steepened vertical temperature gradient (cool aloft and warm near the surface), and an increased temperature difference means enhanced instability (greater lift).  All of these ingredients will likely yield elevated rain chances through the weekend.

Just like today, we aren’t expecting all-day rains for Saturday and Sunday.  However, everyone should be prepared for the potential for multiple rounds of passing showers and storms on both days.

Given the consistent flow off the Gulf, you already know that the days will remain humid, with dew points staying in the 70°s through next week.  And remember, the morning low can’t drop below the dew point temperature -- so expect muggy morning starts in the low to mid 70°s through the weekend and through most or all of the coming work week.

The rains on Saturday and Sunday should mean that highs for most WAFB communities should top-out in the mid to upper 80°s for both days, although a few areas may sneak up into the 90°s.

As we head into next week, the influence of the west-bound trough should slowly wane.  At the same time, high-pressure -- the Bermuda High -- will expand into the area from the east.  We’re still expecting scattered, mainly-afternoon rains for Monday (50% chance), but by Tuesday and Wednesday, the Bermuda High should begin to knock back our local rain chances even with our muggy, Gulf air mass.  For the time being, we’ll call for rain chances at around 40% for Tuesday and then around 20% to 30% for Wednesday and Thursday.  However, less rain (and less cloud cover) will come with a return to the 90°s for most WAFB neighborhoods.

So enjoy your weekend .. and good luck dodging those rains this weekend!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

More Wet Weather into the Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

June 11th WAFB First Alert Quickcast:
- rain chances running higher for Friday and the weekend

Our area coverage of showers and t-storms was more widespread today compared to Wednesday … and we’re expecting that coverage to increase even more for Friday and the weekend.

During yesterday evening’s weathercasts, we noted a modest counter-clockwise spin in the clouds just to our east -- the satellite signature of an upper-level low.  Satellite depictions today have made the feature even more apparent, with a somewhat elongated spin located over the southern parishes this afternoon.

This upper-air trough of low pressure is certainly not tropical and does not threaten to develop into a tropical system either.  However, you may have noticed the extra activity bubbling up on its eastern flank as it works with the Gulf moisture by providing added lift.  As this trough slides slowly westward over the next couple of days, it will bring those showers and storms into our viewing area.  End result: rain likely for Friday, Saturday and probably Sunday too.

By the early to middle part of next week, the trough should have moved far enough west to lessen its impact locally.  At the same time, high pressure ridging from the western Atlantic into the eastern and central Gulf should take a bite out of the afternoon showers and storms.  If this forecasts plays out, that should mean a drier forecast for the WAFB area as early as Tuesday and certainly by Wednesday.

Regardless, our humid Gulf air mass will remain in place throughout.  The difference between the next few days and the middle of next week will be the shift in “controlling” mechanisms: from the upper trough to the high-pressure ridge. However, the humid air likely keeps morning lows in the 70°s through the next 7 to 10 days for metro Baton Rouge.  Over the next few days, those mornings are likely to also start out with at least isolated morning showers (especially along the coast), with the coverage increasing through the morning and into the afternoon.

We’ve got rain chances running in the 60% to 70% range for Friday and Saturday, and possibly Sunday too.  For Monday, we’re going with rain chances at about 50%, then backing it down to 40% for Tuesday.  At this point, Wednesday is looking considerably drier, with rain chances running around 20% to 30% for the afternoon.

High temperatures through the wetter days will likely top-out in the mid-to-upper 80°s thanks to the clouds and rain.  But the 90°s will return by or before the middle of next week as the daily rain chances decline.

We don’t expect any widespread severe weather over the next 7 days, and regional rainfall totals are likely to average around 1” to 3” or so for most locations (with the larger totals more likely closer to the coast).  However, just as we’ve seen over the past few days, localized downpours can produce 1” to 3” of rain in one spot in under an hour, and these kinds of isolated bull’s eyes are likely to continue through the weekend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Increasing Rain Chances...

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

June 10th WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- rain chances increasing through the next several days
- most see highs below 90° through the weekend

Rains were far less widespread today compared to Tuesday, but maybe more importantly, there were no Flash Flood or Severe T-Storm Warnings issued in or around our area this afternoon.

The upper-air pattern over the lower Mississippi River Valley wasn’t much different today compared to Tuesday, so why so much “quieter?” Because unlike yesterday, there were no upper-level disturbances rolling through the region along the eastern flank of the upper-air high-pressure dome (centered to our west and southwest). In fact, water vapor imagery today suggested the complete opposite for this afternoon compared to yesterday, with much drier air aloft coming in from the north rather than a pair of disturbances like we saw yesterday.

With the drier air in the mid/upper-levels, clouds were slow to develop vertically this afternoon. That not only meant less rain but also much more mid-day sunshine. The temperature at Metro Airport (BTR) was already at 86° by noon and the continued sunshine allowed highs to get into the low 90°s this afternoon for many communities.

How long does this dry air aloft remain in play? We don’t expect for it to last even one more day. As a result, back come scattered mainly-afternoon rains to our forecast for Thursday. By Friday, we’re expecting even better rain chances as the upper-air ridge to the west becomes less important to our local weather. In addition, at least one of our models is hinting at a little added boost to the regional lift (instability) thanks to a weak non-tropical trough drifting across the north-central Gulf on Friday. Indeed, even if this feature fails to materialize, our moist Gulf air mass -- with little in the way of any atmospheric “cap” -- warrants a “rain likely” for cast for Friday.

Heading into the weekend, we don’t expect much to change. The way things look right now, plan for scattered-to-likely rains for both Saturday and Sunday, with Saturday being the wetter of the two days. We don’t expect all-day rains on either day, so you’ll still have the opportunity to get in some outdoor time -- just watch the skies.

And so, for the rest of this week and the weekend, let’s plan for morning starts in the low 70°s for the Red Stick, with patchy shallow fog possible -- especially in the usual places. The mornings will be dry for most, although isolated showers -- especially closer to the coast -- are a possibility for most mornings too.

For the afternoons, have the umbrella within reach or be ready to head indoors if you plan to spend much time out-and-about. For Thursday through Sunday, highs for most communities should top-out in the mid to upper 80°s. The humidity will be a factor too, routinely adding another 5° to 10° to the ‘feels like’ temperature of the air, even in the shade.

And just in case you were wondering: we are watching a little “bubbling convection” in the western Caribbean, but it currently shows little or no threat to become a tropical system. Elsewhere, it is quiet across the tropical Atlantic.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

More Storms Ahead This Week

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

June 9th WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- the weather turned active early today, prompting mid-day Flash Flood Warnings for metro BR
- the WAFB First Alert forecast remains “wet” for the rest of the week and the weekend

Heavy downpours at mid-day, with reports of 2” or more falling in less than an hour in spots, produced street flooding for a number of WAFB neighborhoods. By 3:00pm, Doppler radar estimates around Baton Rouge were showing widespread totals of 2” to 3”, with radar estimates of 4” to 5” or more for locations in the northeast corner of EBR Parish and extending into St. Helena Parish.

Also during the afternoon a cluster of powerful storms prompted the NWS to issue a Severe T-Storm Warning for St. Mary, Iberia and lower St. Martin parish areas.

The storms were generally moving from north-to-south (or NNE-to-SSW in some cases), tracking along the eastern periphery of the upper-air ridge that had kept us dry for so many days. However, with the ridge shifting to the west-southwest, we fell under the influence of disturbances riding around the outer edge of that high-pressure dome. 

As we’ve mentioned before, storms moving from north-to-south at this time of year are often a bit more energetic and “electrified” (elevated lightning frequency) than our traditional summer storms, in part because the air aloft tends to be a bit cooler (since it is also traveling from north-to-south around the clockwise flow of the upper ridge). With this upper-level circulation, the air aloft ends up cooler compared to the more typical upper-level temperatures when the flow is from the west or southwest. 

Through the afternoon, there has been one recurring question for the First Alert team: Can we expect more of this kind of action through the rest of the week?

The jury is still out on that question.

While widespread rains like we saw today are far from common, the pattern for the next two or three days will not be substantially different from today. The ridge will remain offset to the southwest, keeping an upper-level north-to-south flow pattern in effect for the lower Mississippi Valley. Now that configuration alone does not mean more big storms in the coming days, but we should remain vigilant for that potential, especially since our latest forecast keeps rain chances at 50% to 60% through Sunday.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Increasing Rain Chances...

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

June 8th WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- scattered-to-likely rains return to the local area
- clouds and showers mean a break from the 90°s for many

Hit 95° at Metro Airport (BTR) this afternoon just after 2:30pm -- the hottest day of the year thus far and the highest temperature recorded since August 24th of last year.

The upper-air ridge that kept our area hot and mostly-dry last week and over the weekend is slowly weakening a bit and will shift to the southwest in the next day or so, taking the lid off the atmosphere and allowing our moist-and-unstable air off the Gulf to do its thing this week. 

Translation: rain is back in the forecast.

(And yes, Tiger fans, we saw the heavy downpour that hit ‘The Box’ in the late innings on Saturday night.  It seemed as if Mother Nature wanted to add ‘her’ two cents to what was already a great game.  If you were watching the radar that evening, it seems like EBR Parish was the only real target … and that after a bone-dry day!)

After our recent run of dry weather, some of us could use a little shower for the lawns and gardens.  However, our forecast for the next several days is something even a little on the “wetter-side-of-normal” for June.  On average, Metro Airport (BTR) has roughly 12 raindays during June - - that works out to a long-term average rain chance of about 40% each day.  However, our forecast for the coming days will go with rain chances running something more like 50-50 or better through the work week and possibly right through the weekend.

You’ve probably already noticed the return of full-on summertime humidity, and that’s going to remain in place this week.  The low-level moisture will serve two roles: (1) deliver somewhat muggy early mornings, with sunrise temperatures running in the low to mid 70°s for the Red Stick, and (2) fuel the daily development of clouds, followed by showers and t-storms.

Our morning drives in the 70°s will be dry for most, although we do expect to see isolated rains, especially closer to the coast, early in the day.  By mid-day, building clouds will mean a sun-cloud mix with isolated-to-scattered showers already popping up around the region.  The earlier jump-start for the clouds and showers will mean less sunshine and daytime heating: that should keep most neighborhoods in the mid to upper 80°s for daytime highs rather than the 90°s.

But factor in the humidity before the rains arrive and it will ‘feel like’ the 90°s around mid-day for many neighborhoods.  Mid-day and afternoon rains, however, should take a bite out of the daytime heating for many of us just about every day.

Last week, you might have heard some chatter -- via the internet or social media -- about potential tropical development in the Gulf this week.  The tweets and posts started early last week, but have died down considerably over the past few days.  While some models are still suggesting “something” may try to form in the Gulf later this week, the odds for something substantial look very, very low.

There is a lesson here: tropical model projections out more than 7 days are far from reliable.  While they should not be ignored, they shouldn’t become cause for alarm either, especially at this time of year.  The First Alert Storm Team keeps a close eye on such developments and yes, we were aware of the model trends last week.  However, we chose NOT to report them because of our low confidence in their projections.  Had there been good reason to alert you, we would have. 

We’re barely a week into Hurricane Season -- let’s all keep our wits about us and not “Cry Wolf!” too soon.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Warm, Mainly Dry Weather Continues

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

June 4th WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- staying very warm and mainly-dry through the weekend

WYSIWYG - what you see is what you get weatherwise over the next few days as our local weather will remain almost unchanged through the weekend. 

Note: almost.

What will change is that the humidity will continue to increase each day, albeit slowly. By the weekend, dew points are likely to be hovering near or at 70° for much of the day.  Now a dew point around 70° is not high for June -- in fact, it is just about what we expect for this time of year.  But compared to the past few days, you’ll almost certainly feel the added humidity if you spend any time outdoors. 

With the added humidity (the amount of water vapor in the air) we also have more moisture for potential cloud development and afternoon showers. However, the upper-level ridge that we’ve been noting over the past several days is expected to remain in place and stay fairly strong through the weekend.  That ridge works against the onset of showers, inhibiting the vertical development for clouds: no clouds, no rain.

Our local forecast calls for one more morning for the Red Stick with a low in the 60°s, then get ready for morning minimums around 70° or more for metro Baton Rouge through the weekend and into next week.  With the ridging still in place, we expect very warm and mainly dry afternoons for Friday and Saturday, with isolated showers, at best, for Sunday.  Highs for all three days will be around 90° to the low 90°s for the Capital City.

And in case you are wondering, a temperature of 90° with a dew point of 70° means a Heat Index value (‘feels like’ temperature) of 95°.  And by the way, that combination (90° / 70°) yields a relative humidity of only 51%.  Only 51% and yet it feels so hot?  That is why we prefer talking about the dew point temperature rather than the relative humidity.

So it’s a “sunscreen weekend” … and the weather is looking cooperative for the LSU/ULL Baseball Battles at The Box on Saturday and Sunday!

We’ll stay with isolated afternoon showers in the forecast for Monday and probably for Tuesday.  After that, the ridge will have weakened, allowing something a bit more traditional for the summer at mid-week: scattered afternoon thundershowers for Wednesday and Thursday.