Tuesday, February 28, 2017

March arrives like a lion - details on potential severe weather

As we close out what will likely be the warmest February on record, March appears to be coming in like a lion as severe weather potential exists mainly early on Wednesday morning (March 1).

A strong cold front will plow into a very warm, unstable, and moist airmass that resides across the eastern U.S. A rare (considering time of year and location) Moderate Risk (category 4 of 5) zone across the Midwest and Ohio Valley region, which stretches as far south as southern Missouri. Scattered supercells capable of producing tornadoes, very large hail, and damaging wind will be likely across this region this evening and into the overnight hours:

The severe weather outlook for Tuesday through 6am Wednesday. A Slight Risk (category 2 of 5) is in effect for the metro, primarily for the last few hour of this outlook period (wee hours Wednesday).

Behind those discrete supercells, a squall line will likely form along the front as it moves east overnight into Wednesday. That will lead to additional severe storms, more capable of damaging straight line wind, east of the Mississippi River on Wednesday:

The severe weather outlook for Wednesday, beginning at 6am. A Slight Risk (category 2 of 5) is in effect for the early portion of this outlook period. Storms should be east of the metro by 9-10am.

A preliminary look at hi-res simulated radar from the HRRR model valid at 6am Wednesday showing the approach of what might be the second line of storms to affect the metro early Wednesday morning. An extensive area of thunderstorms extends through the Ohio Valley into western PA. (WxBell)

Memphis-area storms

For the Memphis metro, most of the "discrete" supercells tonight will remain to our north. That is a good thing. A few thunderstorms will likely form in AR late this afternoon/early evening and move northeast, but will likely miss the metro to our northwest. We'll be keeping a close eye on this situation as they could produce large hail, damaging wind, and have the low potential for a tornado. Note that those are most likely in the Enhanced Risk (3 of 5). For at least the first half of the overnight period, we should remain dry, but strong south wind and high dewpoints (mid 60s) will keep the pump primed.

By the wee hours of the morning through rush hour, we will begin to see our severe weather risk ramp up as the cold front draws a little closer to our area. The possibility exists of one or more lines of strong to severe storms moving through between 3am-9am. These lines would bring the possibility of straight-line wind damage, perhaps some hail, and a low-end tornado risk. By mid-morning, the line(s) should be to our east and the threat of storms ends as wind shifts to the northwest and temperatures fall out of the 70° range.


To summarize, a few storms are possible, mainly northwest of the metro, early this evening, followed by a higher risk of storms from the wee hours of Wednesday morning until mid-morning. Damaging wind, hail, and possibly a tornado are all possible. We strongly suggest that you take the time review your severe weather action plan and make sure that you have multiple ways to receive notice of threatening weather while sleeping. These could include NOAA Weather Radio and a smartphone service like StormWatch+ in the MemphisWeather.net mobile app. Do NOT rely on hearing a tornado siren overnight. With wind blowing and potentially rain hitting the roof, you're asking for trouble if you hope that you hear a siren. We also encourage you to follow along on our social media channels for the latest information and nowcasting of any storms that affect the area.

Given that this week is also Severe Weather Awareness Week, it's perhaps ironic that severe storms could occur. However, it's also fortunate that this week is the one week of the year that we discount the StormWatch+ service in the MWN app! If you don't have a weather radio or can't get one, spend $5.99 (one-time upgrade in the app) and set up the locations you want to be alerted for. Here's a video that describes the setup (it's pretty straight-forward) and here's something you should read to make sure you receive severe weather notifications via our "wake-me-up" audio alerts while sleeping. The app only yells at you if a Tornado Warning (or Severe Thunderstorm Warning) is issued for your specific location.

Finally, on our Facebook page, we are giving away a NOAA Weather Radio this week courtesy of our partners at Midland Radio! Just find the pinned post at the top of the page to enter. #TeamMWN also will be presenting a severe weather preparedness video discussion on Thursday night at 8pm. Be sure to mark your calendar to watch, learn, and join in the conversation, as well as have another chance to win a weather radio!

Stay safe,

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

Follow MWN on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
Visit MemphisWeather.net on the web or m.memphisweather.net on your mobile phone.
Download our iPhone or Android apps, featuring StormWatch+ severe weather alerts!
MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Severe Weather Awareness 2017: Lightning Safety

Severe Weather Awareness Week continues with a look at how to stay safe when lightning is nearby.

  • Any lightning safety plan should incorporate the 30/30 rule. The 30/30 rule states people should seek shelter if the flash to bang delay/length of time in seconds between a lightning flash and its subsequent thunder is 30 seconds or less and that they remain under cover until 30 minutes after the final clap of thunder.
  • Move inside a well constructed house, a large building, or an all metal vehicle. Stay away from electrical appliances and do not use a corded telephone (mobile and cordless phones are OK).
  • If you are in a boat, get off the water and into a substantial building, or at least into an enclosed and all-metal vehicle with the windows up. If you're caught in an open metal boat, lie down in the boat with cushions between you and the metal sides and bottom.
  • If you are caught outdoors, get down to avoid being the highest point for a lightning discharge. If you're caught in a flat open field or your feel your hail standing on end, crouch down and cover your head with your hands. That way, only your feet will touch the ground.
  • Move away from motorcycles, scooters, golf carts, bicycles, tractors, and other metal farm equipment. Avoid wire fences, clothes lines, metal pipes, drains, railroad tracks, and other metallic objects.
  • Avoid lone trees and the tallest trees. If caught in the woods, pick a small grove of trees as your shelter, and stand at least 5 feet from the trunk of the nearest tree to avoid flying bark if the tree is struck.
  • Avoid standing in a small isolated shed or other small ungrounded structure in other areas.
  • If in a group of people in an open area, spread out before you kneel down.

For most weather providers (especially the small fish like us), lightning data is one piece of weather information that can be hard to come by (especially in real-time). There are only a couple of providers of commercial lightning data in the U.S., which makes re-distributing the data cost-prohibitive for all but the largest commercial vendors. That is why you won't find lightning data on MWN.

The colors of the echoes on radar indicate the relative severity of the storm. On StormView Radar, anything colored orange, red, or pink has a fairly high likelihood of containing lightning. As we nowcast on Facebook and Twitter, we'll also be sure to let you know if a storm is electrified so that you may adjust your plans as necessary to maintain your safety.

Photo credit: Brian Anderson

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Visit MemphisWeather.net on the web or m.memphisweather.net on your mobile phone.
Download our iPhone or Android apps, featuring StormWatch+ severe weather alerts!
MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Monday, February 27, 2017

Severe Weather Awareness 2017: Flooding and Flash Floods

Floods and flash floods occur every year in the Mid South. River flooding occurs seasonally when winter or spring rains or torrential rains associated with tropical storms fill river basins with too much water too quickly. Flash floods occur suddenly, usually occurring within hours of excessive localized rainfall. These flash floods can become raging torrents which rip through river beds, urban streets, or valleys sweeping everything before them.

When a Flash Flood Warning is issued for your area, or the moment you first realize that a flash flood is imminent, act quickly to save yourself. You may only have seconds.

A Flood Watch means it is possible that heavy rains will cause flooding in the specified area. Stay alert to the weather, and think about what you would do if water begins to rise or if you receive a warning. Watch for development.

Sometimes, an Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory (or Flood Advisory) is issued for urban areas when excessive rain from thunderstorms begins flooding low-lying areas, small streams, and areas prone to excessive runoff on roadways.

Be especially cautious when driving heavy rain and avoid areas where water is known to pool or flood during heavy rain. It only takes two feet of moving water to sweep your vehicle away, including pickups and SUVs and six inches of moving water to sweep a person off their feet.  Nearly half of all flood fatalities involve vehicles.

Flash Flood Safety rules

  • Get out of areas subject to flooding. This included dips, low spots, valleys, stream banks, and flood plains.
  • Avoid already flooded and high velocity flow areas. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream on foot where water is above your ankles.
  • If driving, know the depth of water in a dip before crossing. The road bed may not be intact under the water. Don't drive into a pool of water or where water is flowing. Water up to the bumper will likely stall a car.
  • If the vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and its occupants and sweep them away.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers. Heavy rain events frequently occur at night!
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams or drainage areas particularly during threatening conditions.
  • Turn around, Don't Drown!

MemphisWeather.net has the information you need during potential and ongoing floods and flash floods via the MWN Flood Center, which includes current radar and estimated precipitation totals, precipitation forecasts (amounts and timing), and river levels and forecasts. In addition, StormWatch+, available via the MemphisWeather.net mobile apps for Android and iPhone, will alert you if you are in, or drive into, an area that is under a Flash Flood Warning.

Follow MWN on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
Visit MemphisWeather.net on the web or m.memphisweather.net on your mobile phone.
Download our iPhone or Android apps, featuring StormWatch+ severe weather alerts!
MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Severe Weather Awareness 2017: SKYWARN Spotters and Social Media Reporting

Though severe weather often occurs within a defined "season" in the spring to early summer (plus a secondary "season" in the fall), as we saw on December 23, 2015 in the southeast and February 24, 2016 on the east coast, severe storms can strike during any month of the year at any time of the day or night. When severe thunderstorms threaten, the National Weather Service calls SKYWARN volunteers into action. SKYWARN volunteers are the eyes and ears of the National Weather Service, providing instant reports of severe weather, including hail, high winds, and dangerous cloud formations.

SKYWARN spotters keep a close eye on the sky anytime severe thunderstorms approach. Many communities deploy spotters around the edge of the city and use their early reports of impending hazardous weather to warn the community. Some spotters relay reports from their home or business while other more adventurous volunteers brave the elements and try to get as close to the storm as possible.

Ham radio operators collecting storm reports from SKYWARN storm spotters in the field. Picture courtesy NWS.
Who are these SKYWARN volunteers? A large number of SKYWARN storm spotters in the Mid-South are Amateur Radio Operators, commonly known as HAMs. These public service minded individuals make ideal storm spotters since they have the ability to communicate their reports. They are willing to be trained and they have a real interest in helping the National Weather Service, and their local communities prepare for severe weather. Amateur Radio operators are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, even thought they receive no compensation of any kind for their hard work.

Many other groups participate in the SKYWARN program, including law enforcement agencies, fire departments, utility companies, rescue squads, and the news media. Individual citizens are also trained as spotters, and are asked to relay their reports to the National Weather Service. Spotters are a vital link in the warning process, and it is important to have as many trained spotters in each county as possible.

How can you get involved?  You can attend a storm spotter training class in person or online to become a trained spotter. Each session is free, lasts about 90 minutes and covers basics of thunderstorm development, fundamentals of storm structure, identifying potential severe weather features and (more importantly perhaps) severe weather look-a-likes, what and how to report, and basic severe weather safety. Online options include watching a training session that was conducted by the National Weather Service in Memphis in the past year or an online spotter training course that is available with a free registration.

Want to attend in person? We highly recommend it! A schedule of upcoming classes in the Mid-South can be found here. In the Memphis area, a class taught by NWS-Memphis will take place on Tuesday, March 23, at 7:00pm at Lord of Life Lutheran Church on Poplar Pike in East Memphis. All current SKYWARN volunteers should attend as a refresher, while new volunteers are strongly encouraged to attend and learn how to be a spotter, what to look for, and how to report. The classes are free and open to the public, including teens and older elementary children who enjoy attending with their parents. You can learn more about the SKYWARN program from the NWS here.

In addition to being a trained spotter, Memphians can use their social media accounts to report severe weather to the National Weather Service (@NWSMemphis) or to us (@memphisweather1)! We make sure that any and all severe weather reports we receive are sent on to the NWS. The best reports include a geo-tagged tweet and picture of the severe weather event (storm damage, hail, funnel/tornado, or even winter weather), as well as short description.

Follow MWN on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
Visit MemphisWeather.net on the web or m.memphisweather.net on your mobile phone.
Download our iPhone or Android apps, featuring StormWatch+ severe weather alerts!
MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Warm February ends wet; TN Severe Weather Awareness Week

With four days left in the month, February is currently ranked as the warmest on record in Memphis (55.1°, which is a full 10° above the monthly average). Despite much cooler weather this weekend, we are projecting that the month will end as the warmest since records began in 1875, as the unusual warmth returns to end the month. We should also end "meteorological winter" (December-February) with as fourth warmest on record. Looking ahead to this week, it also appears that March will come in like a lion! Let's get into the details.

Memphis average temperatures by month for "meteorological winter," ordered by warmest season. This winter currently ranks #4.
A strong cold front that brought scattered severe storms to places that don't usually receive them in the winter (Upper Ohio Valley) also moved through the Memphis metro last evening. Though very little rain fell in the metro, it did usher in MUCH cooler temperatures. Most of us woke up to wind chills in the mid 20s with temperatures in the mid 30s this morning.

24-hour temperature differencefrom 9am yesterday to 9am today. You can clearly see areas that the front passed through in the past day! Purples indicate temperatures more than 30° cooler in 24 hours. (WxBell)
As high pressure moves directly overhead later today, wind dies down and temperatures remain cool despite sunny skies. We'll see highs near 50. With light wind, clear sky, and dry air in place tonight, expect the budded trees and flowers to shiver as the mercury falls below the freezing point - to near 30 in the city and mid to upper 20s in rural and suburban areas. If you need to cover plants to protect them, do so this evening. Outlying areas could see 6-8 hours of sub-freezing temperatures overnight!

Sunday begins the warm-up as high pressure shifts east. For the most part, it will be a sunny day with high clouds moving in by sunset in advance of the next quickly-moving weather system. Look for highs about 10° warmer than today, or near 60°. The month of February has also been dry with officially just over an inch of rain so far. That will change as the next weather-system arrives Sunday night. Low pressure organizes in the southern plains and a warm front approaches from the south. Upper level low pressure will trigger a rain event Sunday night into Monday morning with some rain potentially heavy early Monday morning. No thunder is anticipated from this event, which will move out during the morning hours Monday. Anticipate a wet morning commute.

The North American Model (NAM) prediction for rainfall from 6pm Sunday through 6pm Monday. (PivotalWx)
Monday night, the warm front moves through from south to north, ushering in very humid Gulf air and triggering scattered showers and a few thunderstorms. This puts the Mid-South in the warm sector of the next low pressure and frontal system. Tuesday will see very warm conditions and unstable air, but with little dynamics to trigger precipitation, only a few showers or thunderstorms are anticipated, and it could turn out dry. Highs will be back into the 70s with dewpoints near or above 60° and warm south wind.

The NAM model prediction for high temperatures on Tuesday afternoon, as warm, moist southwesterly breezes push highs well into the 70s. (PivotalWx)

Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, as March arrives, is when we'll feel the effects of that next front. It's too early to predict severe weather chances, but the front will be strong with decent upper level dynamics and will tap into plenty of moisture. The X-factor could be instability, which would peak during the warmest part of the day. If the front arrives as scheduled now (mid-day), sufficient instability will be a question mark. For now, plan on a stormy day Wednesday, particularly early. Behind the front, temperatures cool down again, but sunny skies prevail for the remainder of the week.

The American GFS model prediction for rainfall from 6pm Tuesday through 6pm Wednesday. Most of this falls late overnight into Wednesday morning locally. (PivotalWx)

Next week is also Severe Weather Awareness Week in TN and AR (this past week was awareness week in MS). As usual, we plan to have a full slate of information and education to help prepare you for severe weather season. In addition, we'll have some giveaways throughout the week, including free MWN apps (including our StormWatch+ severe weather alert app upgrade) and free weather radios from our severe weather awareness week partner, Midland Radio!

The week starts tomorrow with a discussion of SKYWARN and social media storm spotting and reporting and continues each day with a different topic. We also will be hosting a live video presentation (most likely Tuesday evening, weather-dependent!) with a panel discussion on multiple severe weather topics and a chance for you to ask questions. You can get all the details of our activities this week on our Severe Weather Awareness page on MWN.

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

Follow MWN on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
Visit MemphisWeather.net on the web or m.memphisweather.net on your mobile phone.
Download our iPhone or Android apps, featuring StormWatch+ severe weather alerts!
MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sun and Storms Lead the March Towards Spring

As the close of February draws near, Mother Nature is ready to turn the page from winter to spring. After near record warmth across the region to start the week, the end of this week could bring more of the same, with the possibility of some storms mixed in too.

Heating Up (Again...)

After showers moved through the metro area early on Tuesday, warm temps are coming back for the mid-week. Expect a mostly cloudy sky and highs in the 70s for Wednesday and more of the same for Thursday with a bit more sun. Highs could even reach record warmth by Thursday afternoon. Lows will drop into the 50s to near 60 each night.

The final day of this 70-degree streak comes on Friday, but with that comes the potential for some stormy weather on Friday evening in the region.

Storm Front Coming

A low-pressure system working its way into the intermountain west will continue to propagate east, bringing showers and storms to the Ohio Valley and Midwest. This system could also bring rain and thunderstorms into our area on Friday afternoon or evening, but right now there is only a slight (20 percent) chance. With the cold front set to cross over Memphis to start the weekend, there is the possibility of severe weather across areas north and east of Memphis, although these chances are conditional, meaning that if a few storms can form, they could become severe.

Following that front will be a cool down to seasonal temperatures and conditions for the rest of the weekend, though Saturday could be slightly below average. Highs may only hit the mid-50s, with lows in the lower 40s on Saturday. Sunday looks to gradually warm things up a little more, with highs near 60, after a chilly night with overnight lows in the mid 30s.

Into March We Go!

The final few days of February bring temps back into the 60s and 70s during the day, but also another chance of showers and thunderstorms Monday into Tuesday. We'll know more after the frontal passage on Friday.

Early March is shaping up to be coming in like a lion, with above average temperatures, but also above average precipitation. Perhaps it will help the end of March head out like a lamb?

With Severe Weather Preparedness Week underway in Mississippi, and the next week here in Tennessee, now is a great time to get ready for spring storms. Make sure you have warnings pushed to your phone through our StormWatch+ app, where you can customize the alerts you get for your hometown. Also be sure to regularly check our MWN human-powered forecast through our website, social media feeds, and mobile app.

Alex Herbst, Meteorologist
MWN Social Media Intern

Follow MWN on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
Visit MemphisWeather.net on the web or m.memphisweather.net on your mobile phone.
Download our iPhone or Android apps, featuring StormWatch+ severe weather alerts!
MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Comparing Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and StormWatch+

The wireless industry, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) now disseminate Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to cell phone users across the nation.  The National Weather Service (NWS) utilizes WEA to push select extreme weather bulletins using this platform.  WEA, also known as Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) or Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN), is a national emergency alert system to send concise, text-like messages to users’ WEA-capable mobile devices.  Along with severe weather alerts, other messages that will be sent as Imminent Threat Alerts include natural disaster notices, such as in the event of an earthquake.  In addition to Imminent Threat Alerts, AMBER Alerts will be sent via WEA, as well as Presidential Alerts.

WEA Basics

  • Users are automatically enrolled in the program, but can opt out of all alerts except Presidential Alerts
  • Alerts will only be sent to WEA-capable devices (most phones released in the past few years)
  • Carriers representing more than 97% of cell phone users are represented
  • Mobile users are NOT charged to receive these messages
  • Message will appear similar to text messages, though they utilize more robust delivery technology than traditional text messages that is not susceptible to network congestion
  • Alerts will arrive on your device with a distinct tone and vibration which is different from a standard text message
  • Alert messages will be sent to those within a targeted area (individual cell towers can be programmed to send a specific alert), unlike text messages which are not location aware
  • Though the messages are targeted, your location is not "tracked." An alert to a particular area will be delivered to all capable devices within that area, regardless of where the device originates or it's "home" area (i.e., someone from Boston traveling in Dallas will receive any severe weather alerts for Dallas while he is in the affected area)
  • Messages will be limited to 90 characters (though an expansion is planned)

Weather alerts sent via WEA (may vary by area)

  • Tsunami Warning
  • Tornado Warning
  • Extreme Wind Warning
  • Flash Flood Warning
  • Hurricane Warning
  • Typhoon Warning
  • Blizzard Warning
  • Ice Storm Warning
  • Lake Effect Snow Warning
  • Dust Storm Warning

While this sounds like a direct (and free) competitor to Cirrus Weather Solutions StormWatch+ service, StormWatch+ actually has several distinct and important advantages over the WEA system.  These are outlined below.

Benefits of StormWatch+ over WEA

  • Delivery method: WEA - SMS-like text message; StormWatch+ - Push notification with link to full-featured content in app
  • Weather alert typesWEA - Limited set of high-end warnings, no watches;  StormWatch+ - Expanded list of warnings, advisories, and watches
  • User selection of alertsWEA - All on/off (except Presidential alerts);  StormWatch+ - User controls individual alert types, quiet time, and vacation stop
  • Opt-out methodWEA - Contact wireless carrier;  StormWatch+ - user-controlled
  • Location(s) monitoredWEA - current location only;  StormWatch+ - 3 user-defined locations anywhere in the U.S., as well as GPS-based location alerts for use while traveling
  • Area warnedWEA - entire county + "bleed over" if cell tower near county line;  StormWatch+ - Only within NWS warning polygon
  • Reliability WEA - fairly reliable but statistics not available;  StormWatch+ - proven based on extensive use in all weather types (greater than 99%)
  • Availability WEA - all recent "advanced" iOS/Android smartphones;  StormWatch+ - all recent iOS/Android smartphones and tablets
  • Additional contentWEA - none;  StormWatch+ - local radar, forecast, current conditions, video and textual safety tips, graphical depiction of warning + full text of the alert

For more information on StormWatch+, please visit www.StormWatchPlus.com

For more information on Wireless Emergency Alerts, refer to these sources:

Follow MWN on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
Visit MemphisWeather.net on the web or m.memphisweather.net on your mobile phone.
Download our iPhone or Android apps, featuring StormWatch+ severe weather alerts!
MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

So... is winter over??

You won't believe (or maybe you would) how many times I've been asked whether winter is actually over. The short answer? I think so.  Let's take a look...

First, if you think this was a "year without a winter," you are only partially right. It's been a while, and the recent heat has probably seered some brain cells, but December had some very cold periods. In fact, this blog spoke of at least three "Arctic blasts. Interspersed between some very warm days were multiple days with highs in the 30s and 40s. In fact there were low temperatures of 15° and 18° on consecutive days mid-month. Overall, December was about 1° above normal, mainly due to a few very warm days offsetting those cold ones.

Moving on, while January was very warm overall, we had 4 consecutive days with highs in the 20s and 30s and snow fell on Friday the 6th with most kids getting a snow day. There are many years when a snow day doesn't happen. Snowfall will end up below normal this year, but we only average about two small snow events a year. We got one. (And yes, I'm predicting we won't see another.)

Remember this snowfall on January 6? We didn't completely skip over winter this year!
After a top 10 warm January, February is likely on track to out-pace the warmth of January. As of the 20th, the average temperature for the month ranks third warmest on record...

Top 10 warmest February 1-20 periods on record, according to NOAA. 2017 ranks #3.

...and the forecast models indicate well above average temperatures to close out the month, with the exception of this weekend behind a Friday cold front.

The American-made GFS model ensemble system forecast temperature anomalies through the end of the month show plenty of warmth, with one "break" of near average temperatures this weekend behind a cold front that moves through Friday. (WeatherBell)
Looking towards March, we have a few products that can give us hints on what's to come. The first is NOAA's Climate Prediction Center outlook for days 8-14, which covers the first full week of March.

NOAA's day 8-14 temperature outlook, covering the first week of  March, expressed as percentage chance of above (below) normal. The Mid-South has a 60% chance of above normal temperatures. (NOAA/CPC)
No signs of any cold blasts there, with a 60% chance that temperatures will average above normal and a less than 10% chance they will be below normal. The week 3-4 outlook, which covers the period through the middle of the month shows a bit more promise, but even slightly below normal temperatures for that time of year would indicate highs near 60 (not winter, but not 80° either).

NOAA's week 3-4 temperature outlook, covering the period March 4-17, expressed as percentage chance of above (below) normal. The Mid-South has a 50% chance of below normal temperatures according to this graphic. (NOAA/CPC)

Finally, the NOAA temperature outlook for the entire month of March (issued last week), shows slightly enhanced odds of above normal temperatures for the month (first image below), while the March-May "spring" outlook indicates a decent chance of temperatures averaging above normal  (second image below).

NOAA's March temperature outlook, expressed as percentage chance of above (below) normal. The Mid-South has a 33-40% chance of above normal temperatures. (NOAA/CPC)

NOAA's March-April-May temperature outlook, expressed as percentage chance of above (below) normal. The Mid-South has a 40-50% chance of above normal temperatures (which according to their methodology means a 33% chance of near normal and a 17-27% chance of below normal temperatures). (NOAA/CPC)

Shifting from NOAA to the European model ensemble (basically the European model produced 50 times with slight variations and averaged), here is the latest temperature anomaly (departure from normal) map for the next 46 days (though April 6), also indicating above average temperatures east of the Rockies.

The European Ensemble model system predicts above average temperatures (overall) for the next 46 days. (WeatherBell)

And just for fun, the precipitation anomaly for the same period, showing the potential for a wet 6 weeks in the southeastern U.S.

The European Ensemble model system predicts a wet 6 weeks ahead for the southeastern U.S. (WeatherBell)

Does all this mean we won't see ANY more cold weather? Not necessarily. In fact, some areas will be back into the 30s again Sunday morning. However, it's POSSIBLE that the last freeze of the year has occurred in the city. The average date of the last freeze at the airport is March 19, which is still nearly a month away. I certainly can't rule out that still occurring. Our last 32° reading was February 16, While that is very early, if there isn't another freeze, it won't be the earliest last freeze on record, which was set 4 days earlier, on February 12, 1878!

The average last frost date is March 29, using 36° as a proxy for frost formation. There's still plenty of time for some 30s to affect the buds and blossoms that are arriving 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule, so if you have an itch to plant something, understand that frost, or maybe a freeze is still possible for some time yet.

The USA-National Phenology Network tracks the start of spring using models based on the Spring Leaf Index. Shown above is the spring anomaly through February 20, indicating that spring arrived in the Mid-South 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule.
So by all indications, spring has sprung and Punxsutawney Phil is #FakeNews! Just don't be surprised by a few chilly mornings mixed in with the occasional 80° day over the next month or so!

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

Follow MWN on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
Visit MemphisWeather.net on the web or m.memphisweather.net on your mobile phone.
Download our iPhone or Android apps, featuring StormWatch+ severe weather alerts!
MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder