Thursday, April 5, 2012

Recap of today's thunderstorms and a pleasant pattern ahead!

We began the day in a Slight Risk area for the possibility of some severe weather thanks to a potent upper-level low pressure system that was traverse the metro this afternoon. During this time of year, with some heating ahead of one of these lows, it is possible to get large hail in any thunderstorms that form thanks to the cold air aloft and lower freezing levels. Instead of large hail, some areas saw buckets of small hail!  Below are a couple of pictures from Summer Avenue near White Station around 10:10am where so much hail fell it covered the ground!

Small hail covered the ground on Summer and White Station around 10am. Photo courtesy @bengalkatlady (Twitter)
A couple of hours later, this was the scene as the hail was washed into a low lying area in the parking lot:
Remnants of the hail 30 minutes later. Photo courtesy @bengalkatlady (Twitter)
This storm developed very quickly over the city and moved slowly east. Below is a sequence of cross-sections of the storm put together by Weather Channel meteorologist Stu Ostro.  Note the cell on the right size of the storm, which went from a small green dot in the top frame to a large red core held aloft by a developing updraft in the middle frame, and finally collapsed to the ground as pinks and reds (hail) in the bottom frame.
Time sequence cross-sections of the Memphis hail storm. Courtesy Stu Ostro. 
From the south (backside) of these storms, mammatus clouds were present on the underside of the thunderstorm anvil clouds.  The picture below was taken from Memphis International Airport looking north. Mammatus clouds are typically indicative of severe weather and extreme turbulence.

Mammatus clouds on the storm producing hail to the north of this location. Photo credit MWN.
After a brief respite, a line of storms moved into the metro from the west after the lunch hour. As the storms approached, they pushed out an outflow boundary, or gust front, that produced a photogenic shelf cloud.  The pictures below show the shelf as it approached southeast Memphis and Collierville, respectively.  Though no severe weather was associated with this storm, there were reports of near-severe size hail in north Mississippi in association with the line of storms.

Shelf cloud as it approaches Mendenhall south of Mt. Moriah. Photo courtesy @nas38117 (Twitter)
Shelf cloud from a distance, taken in Collierville by Michael Hardeman.
Precipitation rapidly diminished in the metro by 2pm as the upper-level low responsible for the day's weather moved nearly overhead and conditions stabilized behind the previous storms.

Looking ahead, a seasonal and very welcome pattern change is expected.  Thanks to the rain today, for only the second time since March 11, temperatures remained below 70 degrees!  As we head into the Easter weekend, high pressure will dominate, bringing very pleasant conditions with abundant sunshine, reduced humidity, and high temperatures in the upper 60s Friday and lower to mid 70s this weekend. A weak cold front will pass through early Sunday morning but only an increase in cloud cover is expected.

Another cold front that brings a shot of much cooler air arrives around Tuesday, further reducing temperatures to the 60s for the middle of next week. Overnight lows will be in the 40s Friday night and again for the middle of next week! Models are hinting at more rain chances late next week, but it's too early to say for sure now.  In the meantime, enjoy some truly SPRINGLIKE conditions. A detailed look at the extended forecast can be found on the MWN Forecast page.

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