Friday, September 26, 2014

MWN Lightning Round: weekend forecast, holes in the clouds, and NWS on Twitter

The MWN Lightning Round is back with three topics for this fabulous fall Friday!

1. First, and most important, the weekend forecast! Lots of activities again going on around town this weekend as fall gets into full swing. The weather will cooperate for most of them, but it will be warm with slightly increased humidity levels. For today, high clouds will stream overhead but no rain is expected and temps will reach the mid 80s, similar to yesterday. Friday night football looks great with temps near 80 at sunset and a light northeast breeze.

For Saturday, another day not unlike the last couple. Clouds will be a bit thicker, but the rain chance is still very low and not worth worrying about. Temps will once again reach the mid 80s, but morning lows will be a bit higher (mid 60s) as humidity increases. If you're headed to Oxford for the Memphis-Ole Miss football game, expect cloudy skies, a slight rain chance, and temps near 80 at kickoff.

A developing trough to our south is responsible for the clouds this weekend. As it moves northeast into the southeastern U.S., rain chances also go up a bit for us, mainly Sunday. Earlier this week, some models were hinting at a Sunday washout but that does not appear to be the case now. Scattered showers are expected though and will be more numerous to our southeast, over northeast MS into AL. Temps will be a few degrees cooler Sunday due to the showers in the area. A warm and dry pattern sets up for next week until another true fall cold front moves in by week's end.

Weekend rainfall forecast from the NWS. Precip (mainly Sunday) could average 0.10" in the metro with heavier amounts to the southeast. Graphic courtesy NOAA/NWS/WPC.

2. A unique cloud formation was observed over the Tuscaloosa, AL region this morning. A "hole punch" cloud, or fallstreak hole, caught the eye of a bunch of smartphone-toting folks, who captured pictures of the event. An example, from the Twitter feed of James Spann, is shown below. Hole punch clouds are typically formed when aircraft fly through an area of supercooled water droplets. In the aircraft's wake, rapid cooling takes place and introduces ice crystals into the air, causing the water droplets to evaporate. This leaves a hole in the cloud and ice crystals below it! For more on hole punch clouds, including some cool pics, see articles from the Cloud Appreciation Society and Wikipedia.

Fallstreak cloud over Tuscaloosa, courtesy James Spann on Twitter (@spann).
3. The National Weather Service is officially joining Twitter! OK, so many NWS offices have been there for some time, but as with any new product or service from the NWS, there is an "experimental" phase in which they test the waters and solicit feedback. As of October 31, their use of the service becomes "operational," meaning NWS offices are expected to utilize the medium for information sharing.

There literally is no faster way to share and receive information than Twitter. Breaking news almost always breaks there first these days. While the use of Twitter will be a "complementary" service at the NWS, they expect to "disseminate important information about hazardous weather conditions" and Twitter "will also be used for public outreach and education and to direct users to official NWS Web sites." The NWS stresses that users should not rely on their Twitter feeds for warning information. To this point, the NWS has not indicated if or when their experimental use of Facebook will become operational.

You already know that you can follow on Twitter and Facebook (links below), but did you know that we have automated feeds of severe weather watches and warnings for each metro county on Twitter? Learn more and find your county's feed here.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! We'll be watching for our next big fall front late next week.

Erik Proseus, MWN Meteorologist

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