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!​

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