Saturday, February 19, 2011

Another pattern shift and severe weather awareness campaign

A week ago, the Mid-South was just beginning a warm-up that would finally end a streak of cold and snowy weather that brought nearly 10" of powder/slush/ice since the first of the year. That pattern shift resulted in a very warm "spring-like" period this past week with temps in the 60s to lower 70s as high pressure dominated much of the central U.S.

This weekend, we are starting to see the overall pattern change again, though not to another brutally cold one. As we head towards March, a more progressive pattern will return with cold fronts every few days and temperature swings more typical of early spring - warmth ahead of frontal systems and brief cool snaps behind them.  This pattern also favors better chances of thunderstorms, so expect to see them in the forecast more often, rather than just rain (or heaven forbid, snow!).

The first front to have a noticeable effect on our weather will arrive Monday. Ahead of it, look for windy and warm conditions Sunday and Monday, followed by a quick cool-down with lows back in the 30s Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and seasonal daytime temperatures in the 50s. We'll warm up once again late in the week as yet another potentially potent front moves into the region Friday. Thunderstorms will be possible with both of these fronts this week, though the late week system seems to have more potential for thunder.

The timing of this pattern change is also appropriate as the Mid-South enters Severe Weather Awareness Week.  Each day this coming week, a different severe weather topic will be the focus. The National Weather Service, in conjunction with state Emergency Management Associations and media partners, will lead residents through safety topics and an education campaign to remind everyone of the importance of preparing for severe weather. will also participate by relaying information from the NWS and TEMA and answering your severe weather questions.  This week's topics will be:

Sunday - SKYWARN storm spotters
Monday - Flooding and Flash Floods
Tuesday - Lightning
Wednesday - Tornadoes, including a statewide tornado drill
Thursday - Severe Thunderstorms
Friday - NOAA Weather Radio and the Emergency Alert System

Finally, on Saturday (Feb. 26) at 10am, the NWS will be presenting their annual Memphis storm spotters course at the Agricenter.  Reservations are not required and teenagers are welcome and encouraged to attend.  Topics will include the basics of storm spotting, what to look for and where to look for it, and reporting your sightings to the NWS. Brief appearances are made by local TV meteorologists, as well as the local chapter of the American Meteorological Society/National Weather Association.

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