Friday, February 27, 2015

Warmer, Some Rain This Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- warming trend through the weekend and into next week
- backing down a bit for Sunday’s rains

Overnight and early morning clouds slowed the temperature drop last night and kept just about all WAFB communities above freezing this morning -- and we doubt that anyone’s complaining. 

As expected, it was a mix of sun and clouds for much of today. Add in the north to northeast winds and it kept us cool-ish. But at least most of us made it into the 50°s -- still 15° or more below normal for the daytime high but at least not the 40°s for highs that we endured on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

We’ve been talking about a warm-up over the weekend ... and it’s on the way. But first, it’ll be another cold night and morning start for Saturday. Plan for sunrise temperatures tomorrow once again in the mid 30°s for the Red Stick. Then the warm-up finally begins, with fair to partly-cloudy skies through the day getting most WAFB neighborhoods to 60° or more for the afternoon. Sunday morning will be considerably milder, with sun-up temperatures around 50°. By Sunday afternoon, some of us could be up around 70° -- sounds good!

There’s been another positive development with our weekend forecast: the “likely” rain chances we had been posting for Sunday have dropped considerably. We’re not ready to say “rain free” … but instead of the 50% to 70% rain chances we had been talking over the last couple of days, we’re now down in the 30% to 40% range. And even if it does rain in your neighborhood, we’re not talking big totals or an all-day event: most of you that do get rain will see less than one-quarter-inch.

Into next week, it’s looking like more 70°s for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday -- real springtime temperatures. However, although we’ve lowered the rain prospects for Sunday, we’ll keep decent rain chances in the forecast for each of these three days as the regional weather pattern stays unsettled. In fact, for Monday and Wednesday, we’re thinking “numerous” showers and t-storms possible.

Of course, at this time of year, we can expect more of the temperature rollercoaster ride and that’s exactly what we’re anticipating by the latter part of the week. The latest NWS guidance from the Weather Prediction Center currently has the next cold front arriving in the lower Mississippi Valley on Thursday, which means, “Goodbye 70°s!” The question then becomes, “Just how cold?”

Our key extended models have started to come into a little more agreement over the last couple of runs. The GFS was first to indicate the potential for freezes by late next week and the Euro is now showing some support. With that in mind, it's possible our Thursday and Friday temps may have to be revised downward a bit as the forecast becomes clearer.

In the meantime, enjoy a little “taste of spring” … and watch the lawns and gardens (and mosquitoes) respond to the warm-up too!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Waiting on a Warm-Up!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- dry but with wake-ups near freezing for the next two days
- waiting on a warm-up!

If you think it’s been a chilly February, you are correct: Baton Rouge’s monthly average temperature for February 2015 will come in at roughly 50° the way things look right now, about 5° below the monthly norm. Now at first look, 5° may not sound like a big departure-from-normal (DFN). But this will be the ‘coldest’ February for the Red Stick since 2010 and may fall among the dozen ‘coldest’ Februarys for Baton Rouge based on the area’s climate record (dating back to the 1890s).

So when does a warm-up arrive? Not right away, but soon.

After a cold start this morning in the low to mid 30°s for metro BR, some WAFB communities didn’t even make it into the 50°s this afternoon. A weak, dry cold front moved through our area today, delivering a reinforcing shot of cold, continental air as it essentially fizzled away. And while we did get some nice afternoon sunshine, clouds will be returning tonight and that will limit just how cold it gets overnight and into early Friday morning. 

Like this morning, we’re anticipating that communities near and north of the I-10/12 corridor will flirt with a light freeze once again for Friday morning (low to mid 30°s). After a mostly cloudy start to the day, we can expect a sun/cloud mix through the afternoon. However, even with periods of sunshine, today’s “booster shot” of polar air will be enough to keep temperatures throughout Friday on the cool side: we’re calling for Friday highs a rot just above 50° for the Capital City.

We’ll slip back down into the mid 30°s for Saturday morning under partly cloudy skies: “Good Luck!” to Saturday morning’s Polar Plungers at Cabela’s in Gonzales! But it’s for a good cause: supporting Special Olympics Louisiana. Come watch as Matt Williams, Steve Caparotta and Jay Grymes turn blue in the cold waters of Lake Cabela. (First plunges begin around 10am.)

Fair to partly cloudy skies should allow enough sunshine to drive Saturday afternoon temperatures into the upper 50°s to low 60°s … and the start of a warming trend that extends into next week.

The persistent upper-air pattern over the last many weeks -- with a trough over the eastern U.S. generating repetitive snow storms and record cold in places -- has kept the Bayou State on the chilly side too. As we head into the weekend, models show the current eastern trough lifting out and slowly being replaced with an upper-air ridge over the southeastern U.S. by Sunday. That ridge will mean a warming trend that has some of in the 70°s by Sunday with mid to upper 70°s likely next week.

Unfortunately, those spring-like temperatures will come at a price: we’ve got showers and t-storms in the forecast starting on Sunday and continuing each day into the middle of next week. These won’t be all-day rains, and for most days we’re expecting “scattered” coverage: much of the current guidance suggests daily rain chances in the 30% to 60% range from Sunday through Thursday, with Sunday looking like the “wettest” of the bunch.

Seems like a fair-enough trade: pick up the umbrella and drop off the winter coats! Could that mean the end of our run of winter weather? Well, maybe … but don't count on it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Staying Cool Through Friday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- rain for us today, snows in the northern parishes
- storm system moves east this evening
- cool for the next couple of days, warming trend into the weekend

The near-steady rains got into our viewing area a little earlier than expected today and helped keep temperatures in the low to 40°s for most of us, with some of our northern viewers never getting out of the 30°s.  As we warned yesterday, today was simply a cold, wet and dreary day for everyone.

But it’s NOT in north Louisiana: as of noon, the NWS had already received a number of reports of 2” to 3” of snow from some north Louisiana parishes, with reports of 5” to 6” or more in parts of Texas and Arkansas.

Radar trends this afternoon have also been signaling an end to the bulk of the rain shield by the late afternoon or into the ‘rush hour’ window.  So starting this evening, the forecast for the next couple of days becomes largely a temperature forecast.

The clouds will hang around and stay with us through the night, helping to slow the overnight drop in temperatures.  It will be a close call, but we’re thinking that many communities along and north of the I-10/12 corridor will see a light freeze by Thursday’s wake-up, with 30°s likely reaching down into the coastal parishes.

Our Thursday forecast calls for slow-but-steady clearing through much of the day.  Northerly and northwesterly winds will counter some of the sun’s warming through the early afternoon, but we think that the Red Stick still manages to get into the low 50°s for Thursday afternoon.  And by the mid to late afternoon, we should be looking at partly cloudy skies.

A weak cool front will essentially fizzle out as it slides across the state on Thursday, offering a modest reinforcement for the chilly air already in place along the central Gulf Coast.  Our forecast currently calls for morning lows at or near freezing for metro Baton Rouge for both Friday and Saturday.  Most can expect fair to partly cloudy skies for both days too and Friday stays cool with a high around 50° or so for the Capital City.

An upper-level ridge will build over the Southeast U.S. during the weekend as a new upper-trough becomes established over the western states.  The ridge will deliver a notable warm-up, with highs in the 60°s for many WAFB neighborhoods on Saturday and reaching the 70°s for many on Sunday.  In fact, our latest forecast carries 70°s into at least the middle of next week!

Unfortunately, the milder, spring-like temperatures come with fairly decent rain chances from Sunday right through Wednesday.  We’re not talking a string of all-day wash-outs, but scattered showers and t-storms appear to be a pretty good bet, with rain chances ranging from as high as 60% or more on Sunday to 40% to 50% or so for Monday through mid-week.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Rainy, Chilly on Wednesday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- winter keeps hanging around the South
- rain a sure bet for Wednesday

As we expected, the freezing rain threat never really developed: not for a lack of cold but for a lack of overnight rain.  On the other hand, passing spritzes and sprinkles today were just enough to remind us that we had expected a mainly-dry afternoon with highs around 50° instead of the mid to upper 40°s.

We did get a few breaks in the clouds this afternoon, but they weren’t enough to allow a significant warm-up and those clouds will fill back in tonight as we slip down into the upper 30°s.  By sunrise on Wednesday, we should be seeing a return of isolated showers for the morning drive.  Most stay dry on their way to work, and temperatures will be too warm for any kind of wintry “stuff.”

We’ll stay chilly through the day on Wednesday, with highs topping out in the mid to upper 40°s for metro Baton Rouge.  And rain from mid-day into the late afternoon appears to be a near-certainty.  Indeed, we’re posting a somewhat rare 100% rain chance for the viewing area. 

We’re not anticipating heavy rains and we should get through the rain period with little if any thunder.  Most of our forecast models are trending towards rain totals tomorrow ranging from roughly 0.25” to 0.75” for just about everyone, so that shouldn’t be much of a problem either.

In case you were hoping otherwise, Ol’ Man Winter isn’t ready to make his exit just yet. 

Another winter storm system is expected to track across the South in the coming days.  It’s currently spinning over the Desert Southwest, and its winter weather forecast track has prompted a new series of watches, warning and advisories that extend from Texas to the Carolinas.  For Louisiana’s northern parishes, this go-around will likely be more of a snow-maker and less of an ice-maker that what they experienced over the past 24 hours.

We don’t anticipate any kind of winter weather concerns in our area this time: the winter action stays to the north.  However, our forecast has lows near or at freezing for Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings for the Red Stick.  Slow clearing on Thursday should allow temperatures to get into the low 50°s for the afternoon, but a reinforcing dry front between late Thursday and early Friday keeps the region chilly, with Friday afternoon highs barely making 50° for some WAFB communities even under fair to partly-cloudy skies.

Headed into the weekend, however, we’ll enjoy a warming trend that could have us in the 70°s by Sunday.  The nation’s signature upper-air pattern over the past two months or more has been “ridge over the west, trough over the east.”  That’s the set-up explaining the persistent cold in the eastern half of the country this winter as well as accounting for the record and near-record snows across parts of several midwestern and eastern states.  That upper-air pattern will begin a reversal by Saturday, with a modest ridge building over the southeastern U.S. as a deep trough digs over the western states.  Unfortunately, this won’t be a “dry” upper-level ridge pattern for us, as we’ll carry scattered rains in the forecast for Sunday and into early next week.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Light Freezing Rain Possible for Areas NW of Baton Rouge

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- temps continue falling through the night
- freezing rain potential to the north and west

Our weekend forecast didn’t turn out so well … and the forecast for the next 12 to 24 hours doesn’t get much easier.  The big question now: “What are the chances for frozen precipitation in our viewing area tonight?”

Let’s start with what we do know.  There’s really no chance for snow and little to no chance for sleet anywhere in the WAFB viewing area tonight or early tomorrow.  A rather thick layer of warm air in the mid-levels of the atmosphere eliminates the snow option and should be prohibitive to any sleet development even over the northern and western sections of our viewing area.

Temperatures will fall through the evening and overnight but the majority of the WAFB viewing area should remain above freezing.  However, some of our northern WAFB communities will get down to freezing before dawn, and that has prompted the National Weather Service to expand the “Freezing Rain Advisory” to now include all of SW Mississippi, the Felicianas, Pointe Coupee Parish and locations in central and western Louisiana.

Even metro Baton Rouge will get very close to freezing, with some of the metro area’s neighborhoods likely to at least briefly drop to 32°.  We recommend the metro area morning commuters need to vigilant over elevated bridges tomorrow morning.

The issue in many cases will be the amount of moisture.  We’re thinking only isolated showers after midnight, when the freezing rain threat will be the greatest.  A generaly lack of rainfall should limit the onset of roadway icing, even in those areas where temperatures are below freezing for an extended period of time.  As a result, we don’t expect icing to be a widespread problem for Tuesday morning.  Any travel issues will be limited to bridges and elevated roads in the WAFB portion of the current “Advisory” zone – and that will depend on if whether enough rain has fallen to allow a glaze to develop. 

Just be smart.  Everyone on the roads at or before sunrise tomorrow north of the I-10/12 corridor should be cautious.

Any rains on Tuesday are likely to be gone by the early morning, so the afternoon stays mainly dry.  We’re expecting clouds through most of the day, although we may see some breaks with sunshine during the afternoon.  That formula keeps us cool all day long, although at least some of us could get into the 50°s for the afternoon, even if only briefly. 

Everyone stays above freezing for Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, with rains on the return in the morning hours.  The rains and clouds keep things chillier on Wednesday with highs topping out in the 40°s.  Look for rain totals of an inch or more for much of the viewing area.

A dry-out begins for Wednesday night into Thursday, but that comes with another cold night as the Red Stick drops to around freezing by Thursday’s sunrise.  A return of at least limited sunshine on Thursday should get most of us back into the 50°s for the afternoon.  Then it’s another light freeze for the overnight into Friday morning for Baton Rouge, with highs on Friday returning to the 50°s once again.

So it’s a work week of below-normal temperatures … what about the weekend?

Baton Rouge returns to the 30°s for Saturday morning, with a warming trend pushing highs into the 60°s for the afternoon.  We’ll carry spotty showers in the Saturday forecast and isolated showers for Sunday, when afternoon temperatures are expected to reach the 70°s.​

Friday, February 20, 2015

Windy, Warm, Rain for Saturday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- warmer, wetter for Saturday
- cold front on Sunday, rain likely
- stays unsettled through next week

** Don’t forget -- rain or shine -- Steve and Jay will be at Academy Sports in Denham Springs at the Juban Crossing Center with representatives from the National Weather Service and several Livingston Parish ‘Response’ organizations to help you get ‘Storm Ready’ ... 11am-1pm on Saturday. **

A cold start to the day with some neighborhoods beginning Friday with a light morning freeze.  Temperatures warmed into the 60°s for most of us as clouds crossed the region throughout the day.  Doppler radar picked-up a pocket of showers that tracked from the coast to the northeast across the tidal lakes and towards the Hammond area during the afternoon.  Other spots in the viewing area had passing light showers through the afternoon but the majority of us stayed dry through the day.

We’ll keep isolated showers in the evening and late night forecast, with rains becoming more scattered in coverage by Saturday morning.  It stays breezy to windy through the evening and overnight too.  But we’re done with cold air -- at least for the short term -- as flow comes off the Gulf over the next 36 hours or more.  The mild and moist Gulf air will keep temperatures in the upper 50°s to around 60° through the night and into Saturday’s sunrise.

Rain chances will increase through the day on Saturday, with a rumble or two of thunder not out of the question.  It should be another breezy-to-windy day with highs getting into the 70°s for most WAFB neighborhoods.  The good news is that these won’t be all-day rains; in fact, we’re thinking that these will be passing, on-and-off showers for the most part.  Most won’t last long, although you could get more than one passing round through the day. 

We’re not thinking much in the way of accumulations either -- most will see well under one-quarter inch of rain on Saturday and whatever t-storms that do develop won’t be severe.  In fact, a few areas may stay dry throughout -- but we’re going with rain chances at 60% or better through the course of the day, so the majority of us should see at least a little rain.

The rains may subside just a bit into the evening and overnight, but they return for Sunday morning as a cold front approaches from the northwest.  We’re still juggling the timing of the front a bit, and the models are suggesting that it may slow just as it gets into our viewing area.  But it looks like a morning arrival fopr the cold front with rain likely through the morning and into the afternoon.  Once again, nothing severe to worry about, and it’s not likely to be an all-day rain affair.

With the morning arrival, however, we’ve taken 70°s off the Sunday board.  In fact, now we’re thinking low 60°s for highs in and around the Capital City.

Then comes a return of really chilly weather … and the rains linger as well. 

Our Monday forecast keeps highs in the 40°s, and there is growing potential for a little of the ‘frozen stuff’ across much of northern and western Louisiana during the day and into the evening.  For now, it looks like most or all of the WAFB area will stay too warm, but we’ll watch closely for the potential across some of our more northern and northwestern communities.

Our current forecast keeps things cool throughout the work week: we’re calling for highs in the 50°s all week long.  Lows should stay above freezing throughout for the Red Stick, although possibly getting close to a freeze on Tuesday.  And certainly our more northern communities will have better chances for light morning freezes, especially for Tuesday and Wednesday.

What’s more, the weather stays “unsettled” through the week too.  The key extended-range models we use -- the American GFS and the ‘European’ model -- differ on the day-to-day timings of rain days through the upcoming week, but both have rains moving in and out of the area during the Monday-thru-Friday window.

Keep the umbrella handy.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Warmer, Rain for the Weekend

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:
- warming into the weekend, but it comes with rain
- next cold front scheduled to pass on Sunday

So what happened to the ‘big freeze’ that we expected this morning?  We went “too cold” for the early morning low, although this is one of those forecast misses that doesn’t disappoint most people.

Looks like some unanticipated clouds monkeyed with the forecast, stopping the temperature drop during the overnight hours.  Indeed, at many locations the temperatures slowly climbed well before dawn even with north to northeast winds.  Some of those clouds were still in the area at sunrise, although they exited early.  Still a thin deck of high cirrus clouds lingered for much of the middle of the day, filtering the sunshine and slowing the mid-day warm-up.  As a result, some of WAFB’s northern neighborhoods never got out of the 40°s for the afternoon.

We’ve got another cold night on the way: the Capital City will flirt with a wake-up freeze with light freezes likely to the north and east of metro BR under mainly-clear skies tonight into the early hours on Friday.  Clouds will steadily increase through the morning, taking us to cloudy skies by the afternoon.  Southeast winds through the day will deliver a warm-up into the day as highs get into the 60°s.  Accompanying the clouds will be a slight chance -- about 20% or so -- for a late afternoon or early evening shower too.

A slow-moving warm front will lift across the area from the southwest on Friday.  The question is “how fast?”  A faster moving front could get most of us into the mid to upper 60°s whereas a slower-advancing warm front will mean highs in the low 60°s for metro Baton Rouge.  The latter scenario seems to be the better bet for now.

The warming trend really kicks-in through the weekend, with our forecasted highs in the 70°s for both days.  But the warmer weather comes at a price: scattered off-and-on showers through much of Saturday and showers and t-storms for Sunday thanks to a cold-front passage during the day.  We’ll stay with highs again in the 70°s on Sunday at this point, but that could change depending on the timing of the front’s arrival and passage.  If the front gets in here a little earlier, then Sunday highs will top-out in the 60°s.

There has been some chatter floating around about active/severe weather on Sunday.  While we agree that thunderstorms appear to be a potential ingredient to Sunday’s weather, so far there are no indications for any organized severe storms.  The NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) is currently acknowledging a potential for storms as the system passes, but the SPC keeps the best chance for stronger storms to our north.  What’s more, even there, the SPC is currently noting a regional lack of instability to intensify storms.  As a result, the latest SPC outlook for Sunday indicates no organized severe weather threat anywhere. 

However, it’s worth watching throughout the next 72 hours ... and the First Alert Storm Team has you covered.

It won’t be a clean frontal passage either, as rain will continue into Monday.  What’s more, after Sunday’s frontal passage, we head back down the temperature slope, with highs on Monday probably not getting out of the 40°s for the Red Stick.  In fact, at least one extended-range model -- the American GFS -- is hinting at some wintry precipitation on Monday, although it shows the best chances will be north and northwest of metro BR.  We may even see a return of freezes for the Capital City by mid-week. 

Bottom line: with or without a little freezing rain or sleet, the thermometer next week will serve as a clear reminder that it is still winter along the central Gulf Coast!​

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Another Freeze for Thursday AM

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- freezes return for Thursday morning
- warming trend begins Friday
- 70°s by the weekend, but accompanied by rain

It was a cold start to the day, with upper 20°s for the Red Stick under clear skies.  While the skies stayed clear all day today, northwest winds kept shuttling Arctic air into the area, slowing the rate of daytime warming.  Most of us did manage to reach the mid 50°s, which felt pretty good compared to yesterday’s highs in the 40°s.

Skies stay clear overnight, with a ‘dry’ cold front sliding through the state that reinforces the chilly air already in place.  That should mean even lower temperatures for Thursday’s sunrise, prompting a series of Freeze Warnings for areas south of metro Baton Rouge and Hard Freeze Warnings to the north and east of the Capital City.

To be sure, while much of the viewing area is not ‘officially’ under a Warning, just about everyone drops below freezing tonight for a number of hours.

Skies will stay clear again for Thursday, with temperatures slowly climbing through the day and getting into the low 50°s for the afternoon.  Winds will begin to come around to the east and southeast late Thursday into Friday and we’ll say “Goodbye!” to freezing temperatures, at least for a while.  Although a warming trend begins Friday, many WAFB neighborhoods will still slip down into the mid to upper 30°s for Friday’s start, with clouds on the return through the day.  Temperatures around the Capital City should reach the mid 60°s for Friday afternoon, with rain chances sneaking into the 20% range during the latter part of the day.

Our forecast comes with good news and bad news for the weekend: expect a return to the 70°s for both afternoons but have the umbrella within reach for both days.  We’re posting a 50-50 chance for rain in your backyard on Saturday, with those percentages rising to 50% to 60% or better for Sunday as our next cold front heads this way.  For the time being, we don’t anticipate a severe weather threat with Sunday’s front, but we’ll keep a watch as the day draws nearer.

And behind the Sunday front?  Back to winter again, with highs in the 50°s for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and lows dipping to near freezing for Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.

So the temperature rollercoaster continues with a reminder that it’s still very much wintertime even down here along the Gulf Coast!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

More Morning Freezes Ahead

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- freezes for the next two wake-ups
- warmer for the weekend, but wet too

First of all, Happy Mardi Gras! 

We mentioned the potential last night, and there were a handful of reports of winter precipitation in the area during the evening and overnight hours. Most of the reports were for sleet, although we did get one mention of flakes from the Zachary area. Another report from the McComb area even mentioned some ‘sticking’ on elevated surfaces where temperatures were below-freezing for a number of hours.

As promised, today was a mainly-dry day -- although there were a few light showers closer to the coast near dawn. And as promised, it was a cold day -- even by February standards -- from start to finish, with a morning freeze for most WAFB communities and a very slow warm-up that still had many at or below freezing into the mid-morning. Add in the clouds and the north winds and it felt like the low to mid 20°s in spots even as late as 10am -- a true test of your Mardi Gras mettle and your parade commitment!

The day didn’t warm much either, although the clouds did thin through the late morning and into the afternoon. Northerly breezes made it feel colder the mid to upper 40°s registering for the day’s highs around the region – not what you hoped for on this closing day of the Carnival Season.

Okay .. sure, it’s chilly .. but let’s not complain too much. We’re only getting clipped by the Arctic air mass that is delivering a ‘direct hit’ for many eastern states (again!). What a winter for some of those folks, eh? And it’s only mid-February -- they could be staring at another 6 to 8 weeks of serious winter chill.

For us, the impact of the Arctic air diving southeastward means a bit of a sideswipe that will remind us that it is still winter here too. We’ve got morning freezes on the forecast boards for Wednesday and Thursday, but at least most of us will climb into the mid to upper 50°s on Wednesday afternoon under the sunshine. However, a reinforcing shot of Arctic air arrives late Wednesday into early Thursday, and that could mean that some of WAFB’s more northern viewers may be lucky to get into the 50°s for Thursday afternoon. At least it will be a sunny Thursday.

The big dip in the jet stream (upper-level trough) that is delivering the double-shot of Arctic air will shift eastward towards week’s end, with a warming upper-air ridge arriving over the central U.S. by the weekend. So the cold doesn’t last long; in fact, most of us will be back into the 70°s by the weekend. Unfortunately, the spring-like temperatures will be accompanied by some rainy weather, starting as early as Friday afternoon and possibly hanging around right into the early part of next week.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chilly but Dry for Mardi Gras

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- rain arrives in the area this afternoon
- temperatures plummet following the frontal passage
- chilly, mostly cloudy but dry for ‘Fat Tuesday’

A line of showers – possibly containing a few embedded rumbles of thunder -- is marching from west-to-east across the region this afternoon at about 30-35 mph.  The line arrived in metro Baton Rouge in plenty of time to add to the chaos of this evening’s commute!

It’s been a windy day under the clouds, although most WAFB communities have stayed dry up until now.  We’ve been dealing with sustained winds in the ‘teens with gusts repeatedly in the 20s and 30s through much of the early afternoon.  As the same time, temperatures have climbed into the 70°s for just about everyone -- feeling a little like spring.

That’s changing quickly, and you can see the changes with regional temperatures and radar trends. 

Although we’re sure to get rain this afternoon and into the evening, maybe the biggest weather story for today will be the rapid drop in temperatures after the front goes through.  For example, at 2:00pm it was 71° in Baton Rouge but already down to 54° in Lake Charles and a chilly 42° in Alexandria -- showing the impact on temperatures behind the advancing cold front.  Some sites have seen temperature fall more than 20° in less than an hour.

WAFB neighborhoods will know when the front is arriving by the rains -- and everyone can expect the thermometer to drop at least 10° to 15° almost immediately after the front moves through.  Most of us will be down into the 30°s well before midnight tonight. 

Rains behind the advancing front will slowly subside through the evening and overnight as the temperatures plummet.  While the threat is relatively small, there is a slight chance for a ‘wintry mix’ for those near and north of the LA/MS state line and over towards central Louisiana during the overnight hours.  However, even if a few flakes or a little freezing rain were to occur, there is no concern for any accumulations.

The good news for Mardi Gras Day is that any lingering rains will have exited the WAFB area long before sunrise.  The not-so-good news is that clouds remain and most of us will awaken to a light freeze -- a reminder that it is still winter!

Don’t expect a great deal of improvement through the day on Fat Tuesday either.  Although clouds should slowly thin during the afternoon, northerly winds will help to keep daytime highs in the 40°s for just about everyone.  That’s not the way we wanted to close out Carnival!

We’ve got freezes returning for Wednesday and Thursday mornings too, although both days get into the 50°s during the afternoon with plenty of sunshine.  A warming trend extends into the weekend, with 70°s back in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday, but those 70°s will be accompanied by scattered rains on both days.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Nice Weekend, Turning Ugly for Mardi Gras

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- chilly this evening and a cold start for Saturday
- mild Saturday afternoon under sunny skies
- looking rather messy for Lundi Gras & Mardi Gras days

You may have seen Steve’s tweet earlier in the day. February 13-14 is the anniversary for what may well be the all-time recorded record cold snap for the entire Deep South. Set back in 1899, most stations with climate records back that far highlight the lows on these two dates as not only the all-time records for February, but the all-time record lows for any date. For Baton Rouge, the low dropped to a bone-chilling 2° -- lows dropped below -10° in some of our northern parishes, including the state’s all-time record low of -16° at Minden (NW Louisiana). Three words come to mind: “no thank you!”

We did dip just below freezing this morning, and it stayed cool through the day, with most WAFB neighborhoods topping out in the 50°s for the afternoon. If you are headed out this evening, be sure to dress for it: LSU Baseball, Southdowns Parade, or just a little evening relaxation will all be done with temps falling through the 40°s.

Saturday starts out cold, with mid 30°s on the board for sunrise in the Red Stick, but we’ll enjoy a nice warm-up through the day under mostly sunny skies. Temps should be in the mid 60°s by lunchtime -- and the start of the Spanish Town Parade -- with afternoon highs up around 70°.

A dry cold front slides through the state late Saturday into early Sunday. It won’t have much of an impact on Sunday morning’s lows -- expect low to mid 40°s for the BR metro area -- but highs on Sunday will only reach the low 60°s. (As an FYI, Plaquemine’s Krewe of Comogo has moved their parade up from Monday to Sunday evening, and the small Krewe of Old River their parade and field fun for the kids from Monday to Sunday at 11:00am.)

Why the changes? Because both Monday and Tuesday are looking wet. We’re currently going with 80° or better rain chances for both days, so plan accordingly for Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras.

Monday looks wet for most of the day but at least the temperatures should get into the 60°s. Sadly, the outlook for ‘Fat Tuesday’ is much uglier. While the rain looks like it will subside during the day, the temperatures aren’t likely to cooperate. The way things look right now, highs on Mardi Gras day will be in the 40°s, and the day’s warmest periods are likely to be in the morning. We’ve got temperatures falling through much of the day under gray skies. The afternoon readings could be in the 30°s.

We’ve taken the “winter mix” off the table for Wednesday morning, although Wednesday probably starts out with a light freeze. Skies clear through Wednesday and temperatures show a slow rebound into Thursday and Friday.

Try to get outdoors and enjoy Saturday’s mild weather!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Turning Cooler for Thursday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- cooler but dry weather through Sunday
- looking less pleasant for Lundi Gras & Mardi Gras

Well, Mother Nature whistled a fast ball past us today, taking afternoon temperatures into the 70°s for most area locations. Now understand, we’re not complaining about the spring-like weather under those mainly-blue skies, but once again our computer guidance fell well short of the mark -- if you remember, yesterday we were calling for highs in the upper 60°s for this afternoon.

Lately the computer guidance has been struggling with our area temperatures, more so than normal. In some cases, we’re seeing consensus “misses” by as much as 5° to 10° -- with the forecasted highs tending to come in cooler than the realized temperatures.

In the meantime, our general forecast remains essentially unchanged over the next few days. We stay dry through Sunday, with a wake-up freeze still on the forecast board for Friday morning.

A weak, dry cool front is sliding south through the viewing area this very evening -- yep, we bet you didn’t even notice it! It really won’t make much of a difference for Thursday morning: in fact, we’ve got a morning start for tomorrow that will actually be a few degrees higher than what we had this morning. But by Thursday afternoon, the colder Canadian air takes a firm hold on the viewing area, keeping highs in the upper 50°s to around 60° for the Red Stick. Then the real chill arrives Thursday night into Friday morning, with a freeze for most of the viewing area by Friday’s sunrise. What’s more, the colder air mass will keep highs in the low to mid 50°s for Friday afternoon.

Friday evening’s Southdowns parade -- and LSU Baseball’s season opener -- will have a winter feel for both with temperatures falling through the 40°s during the evening hours. At least the winds should be reasonably light, so there’s not going to be a significant after-dark wind chill to deal with.

Sunrise temperatures on Saturday will be cold -- mid 30°s for the Capital City, but the day’s mostly-sunny skies should allow for decent warm-up by noon -- just in time for the kick-off of the Spanish Town Parade. We’re expecting highs in the mid 60°s for Saturday afternoon -- maybe even sneaking into the upper 60°s for parts of downtown BR. 

Yet another dry front moves through the WAFB viewing area late Saturday into early Sunday. We had been thinking a chilly Sunday until now, with our latest model suite calling for something closer to 40° to start Sunday and afternoon highs in the upper 50°s to near 60°. Confidence in Sunday’s temperature forecasts is so-so at this stage: we’ll keep an eye on it through the coming days.

Unfortunately, the outlook for the last days of Carnival is less-than-promising. Although temperatures will moderate for Monday and Tuesday, with highs returning to the 60°s, the warmer afternoons also come with increasing rain chances. At this point, we’re calling for scattered afternoon showers and a few t-storms for Monday (Lundi Gras) with showers and t-storms likely on ‘Fat Tuesday’ across the WAFB viewing area. The outlook is essentially the same for the Crescent City and surroundings: not what the big parade krewes were hoping to see!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Another Beauty on Wednesday!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- stays dry through the week
- mild Wednesday, cooler for Thursday & Friday
- rain on Mardi Gras Day?

Put the umbrellas away ... at least for this week.  Even with a pair of fronts expected to cut through the lower Mississippi Valley -- one tomorrow night and another over the weekend -- it looks like everyone stays dry through Lundi Gras (next Monday).

Too bad we can’t get through the Carnival weekend with the same spring-like temperatures that we had just a couple of days ago.  Sorry, no chance of that -- it’s back to Louisiana winter through the next 7 days or more.

Skies will stay clear through tonight and into early Wednesday, setting us up for morning lows in the 30°s for most of the viewing area.  Expect temperatures to dip into the upper 30°s for the Red Stick with mid 30°s for areas north and east of the Capital City.  Thankfully, sunshine and clear skies on Wednesday should allow for a nice warm-up by the afternoon with highs expected to reach the upper 60°s.

A dry cold front moves through late Wednesday into early Thursday.  It doesn’t impact the morning lows on Thursday … but the cold, dry continental air behind the front will keep highs in the 50°s for just about all of us on Thursday even under mostly sunny skies. 

Then it’s “Hello Freezes!” for Friday morning -- we’re calling for lows in the upper 20°s for metro Baton Rouge, and a few of our Mississippi friends could see a brief ‘hard freeze’ to start the day.  While skies will stay mainly clear through the day, temperatures will struggle just to get into the 50°s for some of WAFB’s neighborhoods thanks to the cold air mass in place.

So .. for Friday night’s Southdowns Parade: it will get cold through the evening so be sure to dress for it.  Temperatures will start off in the low 40°s as the parade kicks-off, and could dip into the upper 30°s by parade’s end.

Then it’s Spanish Town on Saturday.  Sunrise temperatures on Saturday will be cold -- mid 30°s for the Capital City, but mainly-sunny skies should allow for decent warm-up by noon.  We’re expecting highs in the low 60°s for the afternoon, so if you stay out of the shadows, it won’t be bad at all.

Another dry front pushes through late Saturday into early Sunday and that means another notable cool-down.  Our current forecast calls for a Sunday morning start in the low 30°s for Baton Rouge with highs only getting into the low 50°s, although at least it will be a mostly-sunny day.  (As an FYI, afternoon highs won’t be much warmer in New Orleans either.)

Monday stays dry with temps climbing back into the 60°s for the afternoon, but our long-range look at Mardi Gras Day is not especially promising right now.  A cold front is expected to be pushing through the state during the day and the current guidance says that this boundary -- unlike the two that preceded it -- will be a rain-maker.  We’re posting scattered showers and t-storms during the day.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Much Cooler on Tuesday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- cooler for the rest of the week, stays dry
- morning freeze on Friday

We say “Goodbye!” to our recent run of spring-like weather as Ol’ Man winter makes a return to the viewing area later tonight.  A dry cold front is headed to the Gulf this afternoon and evening, and while many WAFB neighborhoods saw highs today in the upper 70°s, the cool-and-dry continental air mass behind this afternoon’s front will take temperatures down into the upper 30°s to low 40°s for most of us by Tuesday’s sunrise, with highs on Tuesday struggling to reach the 60°s, even with clear skies and sunshine throughout the day.  No doubt, you’ll notice the more-than-15° drop between today’s highs and those expected for tomorrow.

But the frontal passage will be a dry one.  We did have a few passing sprinkles earlier in the day, but those were tied to a weak trough ahead of the main front. 

So it’s cooler but sunny for Tuesday afternoon.  For Wednesday’s sunrise, we expect lows to be cooler still, with much of the Red Stick dipping into the mid to upper 30°s.  by Wednesday afternoon, however, we’ll get a bit of a rebound in temperatures under mainly sunny skies: look for highs on Wednesday in the mid to upper 60°s across the WAFB viewing area.

Another cold front rolls through the viewing area during the first half of the day on Thursday – and like this evening’s front, Thursday’s front will also be rain-free.  But the difference on Thursday is that the air mass behind the front will be much colder.  Many of us won’t make the 60°s for Thursday afternoon and the thermometer will fall dramatically through Thursday evening and into the overnight.  We’re calling for lows in the upper 20°s for the Red Stick on Friday morning, a harsh reminder that we are still in the heart of the winter season.  Friday stays cool all day long too, with Capital City highs only getting into the low 50°s.

For Friday evening’s Krewe of Southdowns, it stays dry but it will be quite chilly: parade time temperatures will be in the 40°s, possibly sneaking down into the upper 30°s by the parade’s end.  It’s a fun neighborhood parade and worth the time: just be sure to dress for it!

Into Saturday, it’s time for the sometimes bawdy and often irreverent Spanish Town Parade.  Be aware that the morning starts out chilly for early arrivers and krewe members, with sun-up temps in the mid 30°s.  By parade time, however, temperatures will have warmed into the mid 50°s.  And with afternoon highs around 60° to the low 60°s under mostly sunny skies, it should turn out to be quite a nice day, especially given the chillier Thursday and Friday afternoons.  Hey, it is February, after all!

In fact, we’ve got a third front moving from north-to-south through the lower Mississippi Valley during the latter half of Saturday, and once again, the outlook calls for it to be a dry front like the previous two during the work week.  That will mean another dose of cold, Canadian air by Sunday morning, with freezes possible for the northern half of the viewing area.  Sunday will be another fair-sky day, but out long-range guidance keeps highs in the 50°s for the afternoon.

So what about Lundi Gras (Monday) and Mardi Gras (Tuesday)?  For now, Monday looks pretty good but guidance is indicating a decent chance of rain to close the Carnival Season.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Nice Weather for the Parades!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- another cold start for Saturday’s sunrise
- nice warm-up through the weekend
- mainly-dry through next weekend

Some WAFB neighborhoods slipped down into the upper 20°s this morning -- a reminder that it’s still winter -- but a quick morning warm-up under the sunshine had just about everyone in the 50°s by lunchtime. Today’s blue skies were most welcomed even if our afternoon highs were a bit below the early February norm.

We’ve got one more cold start to deal with: look for lows in the mid 30°s for the Capital City on Saturday morning with some communities north and east of the metro area flirting with another brief sun-up freeze. But once the sun rises tomorrow morning, we’ll warm-up even faster than earlier this morning and most of us will be in the 60°s by lunchtime. It will be a real beauty of a Saturday afternoon, with mostly sunny skies and highs in the upper 60°s.

Saturday Mardi Gras Parades include Clinton, downtown BR’s Mystique, Denham Springs, Walker, boats along the Diversion Canal, and closing it all out back downtown with the Men of Orion on Saturday evening.

Sunday gets even warmer under partly cloudy skies, with a morning low in the upper 40°s to near 50° for the Capital City and an afternoon high in the 70°s. We will whisper a very slight chance of a sprinkle here or there for Sunday -- setting rain chances at 10% -- but that’s just not enough to worry about. Meanwhile on Sunday, North Boulevard goes to the dogs with the Mystic Krewe of Mutts while across the river the fire trucks will roll through Addis.

A weak, mainly-dry front will slide through the area on Monday -- once again we’re calling for spotty showers at best. But you will notice temperatures dropping a bit for Tuesday and Wednesday. Then another mainly-dry front pushes through the region early Thursday, delivering an even cooler air mass and bigger dip on the thermometer. In fact, by Friday, we could be flirting with another morning freeze. 

But the good news here is that the weather should remain mainly-dry through this weekend and the upcoming work week with a chance for another dry weekend down the road as we get into the heart of Carnival time.

Whatever you do this weekend, try to get outside and enjoy the fine weather!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Looking Good for Weekend Parades!

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- a brief, light freeze for many on Friday morning
- warming trend and dry through the weekend

We enjoyed more sunshine for this morning’s start than we were expecting, but we also doubt that anyone is complaining about that.  Now we get a three-day run of dry weather coupled with a warming trend that should get many of us into the 70°s by Sunday afternoon.

Cool-and-dry Canadian air has moved into the Gulf Coast region on the heels of last night’s dry cold front.  However, given that skies cleared sooner this morning than we anticipated, we had already reached our forecasted high before lunchtime.  But then the clouds filled back in, slowing the mid-day and afternoon warm-up and keeping most of us in the mid 50°s.  We’ll still feel the effects of the dry continental air mass tonight and early tomorrow with a brief, light freeze for much of the northern half of the WAFB viewing area for Friday morning. 

Sunny skies will take Friday highs into the upper 50°s for most WAFB communities.  Yet be aware that temperatures for Friday evening’s Artemis Parade will drop into the 40°s, so be sure to take the jackets.  

The warming trend really kicks-in for the weekend.  It will be fair skies on Saturday: great news for the more than half-dozen area parades and various Mardi Gras festivities that day.  Saturday’s sun-up low will be ‘cool-ish’ -- in the upper 30°s for the Red Stick -- but it warms up nicely through the morning, reaching the upper 60°s for the afternoon high.  Parades in Clinton, Denham Springs, Walker, boats along the Diversion Canal, among others will benefit from Mother Nature’s cooperation, with it all winding up downtown Saturday evening with the Men of Orion.

Sunday gets even warmer under partly cloudy skies, with a morning low in the upper 40°s to near 50° for the Capital City and an afternoon high in the 70°s -- feeling spring-like for sure!  Okay, a couple of our models are hinting at spotty afternoon showers, but not enough to buy into a “wet” forecast.  The dogs take over North Boulevard -- Mystic Krewe of Mutts – and there’s the family-fun Fireman’s Parade in Addis.  (If you enjoy fire trucks, it’s worth the trip to the West Side!)

Our next front is scheduled for arrival on Monday, but early indications suggest that Monday’s FROPA (“frontal passage”) will not be very eventful.  Yesterday we were suggesting a 20% to 30% rain chance for Monday: now we’ll go “isolated showers” at best.  While it’s shaping up to be a mainly-dry FROPA for Monday, the continental air mass on the heels of Monday’s front will knock area temperatures back down to something closer-to-normal for February.  Certainly not an Arctic blast, but highs back down into the low to mid 60°s instead of the spring-like 70°s.