Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring is here - or is it?

While it is now officially spring (it began at 12:32pm CDT today), a significant winter storm system is moving across the southern plains towards the Mid-South. Some places in the southern plains are seeing several inches of snow from this low pressure system! This storm will bring wet conditions to the Memphis and Mid-South region beginning tonight and lasting through Monday.

As the low draws closer tonight, rain will move in after dark, probably between 10pm and midnight, then intensify late tonight and early Sunday. Temperatures tonight will fall through the 50s, reaching the upper 40s by morning. The rain will taper off late in the morning following the passage of a frontal system, however temperatures will continue to fall, rather than climb, on Sunday - dropping into the lower 40s in the afternoon with scattered showers.

Sunday night is when things could get interesting. The low pressure system will stall out over the region, with a reinforcing upper level low moving into the picture. The upper low will move by to our south, but will bring a shot of cold air and another round of precipitation Sunday night. Under the core of the low, temperatures could be cold enough for wintry precipitation (snow or sleet) to mix with the light rain.

As it stands now, I expect the best chance for any wintry mix to be to the SOUTH of the Memphis area, over northern and central Mississippi, and under the low itself. Given that, though, enough cold air will be close by that we could see light sleet or snow Sunday night in the Memphis area. Remember that it has been 70 degrees for three days leading into this event, so the ground is warm enough that accumulation will not occur. Monday morning temperatures will be in the mid 30s, rising only into the upper 40s during the day as the lows move east, leaving sprinkles or a light shower and cloudy skies behind. Rapid improvement takes place Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of the next storm system on Thursday.

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