Monday, March 23, 2015

More Sun, Warmer for Tuesday

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

WAFB First Alert Quickcast:

- another mild day for Tuesday
- rain returns to the forecast by mid-week

Our day stayed a little cooler than we expected as a mostly cloudy sky coupled with NW-to-northerly breezes helped slow the daytime warm-up. Maybe not as pretty of a day as anticipated, but all in all, there is little to complain about. We’ll stay dry through the evening and overnight under partly cloudy skies, with patchy fog expected for the Tuesday morning start. We’re expecting a cooler start in the morning as well, with lows for the Capital City in the low 50°s -- cool but not chilly for the morning.

Our forecast stays mainly-dry through Wednesday. It’s a sun/cloud mix for Tuesday with partly cloudy skies on Wednesday. We’ll note that a spotty shower or two can’t be ruled out for Wednesday afternoon, but with rain chances at under 20%, it hardly deserves mention.

Our next front on the forecast board delivers scattered showers and a few t-storms on Thursday, with isolated showers lingering into early Friday. For the time being, there is no serious threat for severe weather in the Thursday/Friday time frame and even the rain chances for Thursday and Friday are still a bit up in the air. The main energy producing the rain potential on Thursday and Friday is tied to an upper-air trough that crosses the nation, with the core of the trough remaining to our north. Current rain projections from the NWS Weather Prediction Center keep totals under 0.5” for the entire WAFB area -- another sign that the frontal action should be fairly benign.

By Friday afternoon, the trough has shifted well to the east and northeast, leaving us with a fine afternoon and a good-looking weekend ahead, with plenty of sunshine. 

However, the extended-range guidance is a bit “scattered” when it comes to the weekend temperatures! There is no doubt that it will be noticeably cooler for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but just how cool is still a little unclear. We’ll give it a couple of days, with the expectation that the models will start to close the gap in terms of their temperature differences. (Regardless of how the temperatures shape up at week’s end, we believe that we are done with freezes for the season.)

In the meantime, one of the topics of national chatter in weather circles has been the lack of severe weather in general, and the record-low number of Watches posted through the third week of March. Since January 1st, the NWS Storm Prediction Center has issued just 4 Tornado Watches and no Severe Thunderstorm Watches. In a normal year, one would expect 40 to 50 Watches by this time of year (based on records back to 1970). March is traditionally the kick-off month for severe weather in the U.S., yet there have been no Watches issued anywhere this month, the first time ever to go this deep into the month without a single Watch being issued.

Tornado counts are also way below average thus far. Preliminary counts (through yesterday) put the national number at just 28. Based on the past 10 years (2005 - 2014), that’s less than half the number compared to the previous low count of 57 (through March 22) in 2010, and just 12% of the 10-year average through the date.

Why mention this? Two reasons: (1) we don’t want you to get complacent about severe weather even though it has been unusually quiet: historically, nearly half of our area’s severe weather occurs at this time of year (March thru May), and (2) the Storm Prediction Center experts note that there is no correlation between a “quiet” start to the spring and the level of activity through the remainder of the calendar year. Keep your guard up for severe weather!

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