Sunday, February 25, 2024

Spring is arriving! Is severe weather far behind?

Leave it to Mr. Groundhog to get one right once in a while, despite the long-term track record. (A broken clock is still right twice a day!)

The month of February has, despite a couple a short-lived cold spells, been much warmer than average overall. Through Saturday, only five days this month have been colder than average. With highs in the 70s the next few days, there is a strong possibility that this month ends in the top 10 warmest Februarys on record, after last year also finished top 10 warmest. 

Warmest Januarys on record. 2024 is 12th on the list with 5 days remaining in the month. (xmACIS)

Accompanying the 70s will be strong southerly wind that has gusted to 30+ mph today and could reach 40 mph by Tuesday ahead of the next cold front that will approach the area Tuesday night. Until then, mainly dry and very warm conditions are expected to start the work week with a mix of sun and clouds. One potential rain chance will be late Monday night, likely gone by sunrise Tuesday, as a surge of moisture moves into the region. A stray thunderstorm is possible early Tuesday. Tuesday will be the warmest day of the week. With a bit of sunshine, highs could soar into the upper 70s (the record for the day is 80). 

Probability of 40 mph wind gusts on Tuesday. (NWS)

We've been watching this coming Wednesday the past few days for the potential for severe weather. On Thursday, a day 7 severe weather risk included Memphis for this coming Wednesday. Since then, models have started to back off the severe potential a bit. 

The severe weather outlook for Tuesday and Tuesday night shows the best chance of severe weather north of the area. At this time, no severe weather area is outlined Wednesday. (NWS/SPC)

It now appears that the cold front will arrive around sunrise Wednesday morning with the low pressure dragging it through well north of the region in the Midwest. 

The forecast weather map valid at 6am Wednesday shows a strong cold front on our doorstep. (NWS/WPC)

This scenario results in much less instability (storm fuel) due to the front arriving during the coolest part of the day, and also less lift and cold air aloft associated with low pressure that will miss the region by hundreds of miles. The one factor to still watch is wind energy, as wind will be strong from the surface into the upper atmosphere. Even a defined line of showers and some thunder could bring strong wind gusts. Continue to monitor our social media feeds this week for the latest!

The European model forecast temperatures at 6am Wednesday. Expect a "backwards" temperature day with highs at sunrise and north wind blowing cold air into the 40s by afternoon! (WeatherBell)

Once the front clears the area and rain chances drop off by midday Wednesday, temperatures also plummet Wednesday afternoon, likely falling into the 40s after starting the day in the 60s. Mostly dry weather is expected for the last day of the month on Thursday with the sixth day of below average temperatures possible. Moderating temperatures are expected as we head into early March to end the week with low rain chances that are hard to define at this point.

Looking beyond that, early March appears to favor the continuation of above average temperatures, along with wetter than average conditions, as shown below (March 4-10 temperature and precipitation outlooks).



Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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Sunday, February 18, 2024

Recap of this past weekend and a look at a warmer week ahead

Good Sunday evening! 

Hope you are holding out well after Friday's cold front, which ushered in another taste of winter before we transition into warmer temperatures this week. In this blog, we'll be recapping this past interesting weekend and then summarize what to expect for the upcoming week (spoiler: a nice, warmer trend is in store this week, with only one rainy day!). 

Winter returned this weekend

On Friday, a strong cold front made its way into the Mid-South, destabilizing the air and bringing a few showers and thunderstorms to the Memphis metro late Friday afternoon and evening. Severe t'storms were warned in different places across the Mid-South, but, luckily, the metro did not have much to worry about on Friday, as storms remained below severe thresholds. Mainly, strong gusts and locally heavy rain were the primary impacts on Friday for the metro. 

(Radar loop at 5:45pm on Friday, 2/16) Showers and t'storms, moving along with the passing cold front, livened up Friday evening. 

Not every place received a lot of rainfall, as evidenced by the airport and MWN stations recording less than 0.03" of rainfall each. The heaviest rainfall in the metro occurred over north MS, due to the the front finding additional atmospheric moisture and instability. Everyone, though, immediately felt the effects of the strong cold front -- temps rapidly declined into the upper 30s by Friday night. The upper 30s happened to be the highs for Saturday as well, making it the coldest day of the month to this point! A brisk wind didn't help matters, either. 
The 24-hr temperature change map valid at 1:30pm Saturday, 2/17, showcases just how drastic the temperature difference was between Friday and Saturday afternoons. About 30° colder! (WeatherBell)

Today, at the very least, has had highs about 10 degrees warmer than Saturday's. The sunshine helped too, but highs were still below what is expected for late winter. All in all, the front certainly brought a temporary return to winter temperatures. Thankfully, we expect Saturday to be the coldest day of the month, since we'll be trending warmer this upcoming week, a trend that looks to continue into the last week of the month as well.

A mostly dry and warm week ahead

In contrast to this past weekend, this week will be characterized by warmer weather and dry conditions. The main exception to dry weather will be Thursday, which will be outlined shortly. Prominent high-pressure defines Sunday and most of the early week; due to the system, dry weather persists tonight and through Wednesday. 

High pressure over the south will be influencing the early week weather, bringing warmer and drier conditions. (NWS/WPC)

Highs return to near-normal levels on Monday (upper 50s), while Tuesday and Wednesday will continue warming up into the 60s. We still keep highs in the 60s on Thursday, but a well-defined low-pressure system leads to unsettled air that day. Scattered showers and a t'storm or two are likely during the Thursday daytime hours and into the early night. Timing is likely to be adjusted as the week progresses. 

A low-pressure system will make its way across the central U.S., leading to increased chances for rainfall on Thursday. (NWS/WPC)

A calmer weekend (finally!)

Remember the last time we had a normal and dry weekend? It has been a while, but, thankfully, we can look forward to a calmer upcoming weekend. Models suggest clearer skies and dry conditions for the weekend, as highs trend toward the average mid-50s for most of the weekend after Thursday's system passes. We'll be looking forward to the upcoming weekend, but until then, check back for updated forecasts, and thanks for reading!

Per the Euro model, Friday's highs are trending to be in the mid-50s for the metro. (WxBell)

Lei Naidoo
MWN Intern

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Follow MWN on Facebook and Twitter for routine updates and the latest info!
Complete MWN Forecast: MemphisWeather.net on the mobile web or via the MWN mobile app
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