Thursday, March 29, 2012

March arrived like a lion - will it go out like a camel?

The early summer-like weather pattern has continued across the Mid-South much of this week, as temperatures remain well above normal. In fact, as previously blogged, the 80-degree weather that’s persisted much of this month will guarantee March ends as the warmest on record (hence the camel reference...), averaging about 10 degrees above normal for the month! In addition, we’re also watching a couple of weather systems over the next few days that will bring increased rain chances, as well as a subtle cool-down next week.

The first system will approach the region from the southwest Friday, bringing a risk for scattered showers and thunderstorms. The upper level disturbance responsible for the rain chances looks most likely to track just south of the metro area, meaning areas in Mississippi will have the best risk to get wet, though it will be possible anywhere. Organized severe weather is not expected, but a few of the storms could contain gusty winds as well as heavy rainfall and lightning. Temperatures Friday may be a touch cooler due to the increased clouds, probably holding just below 80 degrees.

WRF model for 1 PM Friday shows scattered t'storms, but mostly over MS
Rain chances decrease again Friday night and Saturday, as the upper level system passes to our east, and a weak front remains stalled just to our northwest. A rogue shower or thunderstorm is not out of the question, but most areas will remain dry, and temperatures Saturday will rebound to the lower 80s.

On Sunday, April may be welcomed in on a downright hot note as high pressure strengthens overhead.  Temperatures are likely to respond and readings could very well reach into record territory. Mid 80s are a very good bet, and if maximum heating is reached, numbers may even approach 90 degrees in isolated areas! That’s not an April fool’s joke! Meanwhile, a new storm system will begin to organize over the Rocky Mountain States, poised to affect our area sometime between Monday and Tuesday.

GFS model temperatures for Sunday afternoon, showing widespread 80s, with upper 80s possible
Confidence decreases a good bit on the outcome of this next system, as computer models are in very different places on how and where this system tracks in relation to our area. One model “camp” takes the system well north of the Mid-South, with a trailing cold front passing through quickly Monday night. Meanwhile, another “camp” takes the core of the system right over the Mid-South, and is also much slower in clearing our region, taking until late Tuesday.

European model - with low pressure in Canada and cold front passing through the Mid-South Monday night
GFS model - with low pressure in northeast Arkansas and cold front still west of the region Tuesday afternoon
Both potential outcomes appear as if they will bring decent if not high chances for rain and thunderstorms to the Memphis metro, but the exact range of impacts is still to be determined until better agreement is reached. For now, MemphisWeather.Net is learning toward the former solution above, with a round of thunderstorms likely with a cold front’s passage Monday night, but this is subject to change. We will also be watching this system for the possibility of severe weather, as sufficient instability and wind dynamics may come into place near our area for the first time in several weeks.  With the possibility of severe weather, now is a good time to check out StormWatch+, our newest addition to the mobile app for iPhone and Android.  StormWatch+ bring personalized severe weather alerts to the palm of your hand!

Following this system, it appears a slight cool-down may be in store for the area, with temperatures returning to the 70s, closer to normal levels. As of now, any more significant cool snap looks unlikely for the foreseeable future.

--Kevin Terry, MemphisWeather.Net

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