Friday, January 2, 2015

Temperature roller coaster in town for a few days with thunder at its apex!

Miss the Zippin' Pippin? Well a roller coaster of another sort will be visiting Memphis over the next day or two, one featuring some wild swings in temperatures as a strong storm system approaches the area. Unfortunately, it also will be bringing us high chances of rain and even some thunder that will dampen any outdoor plans for the first part of the weekend.

While its been a drizzly and foggy afternoon across the metro much of the day, as temperatures hovered in the lower to mid 40s, a change can be expected as a warm front currently along the Gulf Coast moves closer to the region late tonight. Milder air will begin to take over, leading to temperatures that will actually rise through the overnight into the 50s. Though drizzle will taper initially, a good chance of showers will develop as the night progresses, and a rumble or two of thunder can't be ruled out, especially toward morning.

SPC Outlook for Saturday. While the metro is within the "Marginal Risk" category for severe storms, the threat locally appears fairly limited.
For Saturday, plan for a soaker. Rain is likely much of the day, and the rain could be heavy at times. As a low pressure area strengthens and moves just northwest of the region, southerly wind will also increase, surging temperatures into the mid 60s. A cold front across Arkansas will begin moving into the region by afternoon, leading to even more rain and thunderstorms.

With the mild air in place and some strong wind dynamics aloft, the Storm Prediction Center is monitoring parts of the Mid-South for a Marginal Risk (category 1 of 5) of a few strong storms. At this time, for the Memphis metro, the amount of instability or energy to drive storms to severe levels appears quite limited, so we do not anticipate much more than a general risk of thunder. If any stronger storm were to develop, gusty wind would be the primary threat. The main threat of severe weather should be across eastern Mississippi and western Alabama where the SPC is highlighting a Slight Risk (cat 2 of 5) zone. Through Saturday night, heavy rainfall totals around 1.0-1.5" inches will be common in the metro, though flooding is not a significant threat with this system.

By later Saturday night, as the cold front sweeps past the metro, colder air will once again filter back into the region. Temperatures by Sunday morning should be near 40, and they may only fall during the day Sunday into the 30s as strong northwesterly wind takes over.

A temperature roller coaster is forecast over the next week with a downhill plunge from Saturday night to Monday, a brief climb on Tuesday, then another plunge into the teens by Thurday morning. Shown above, the parallel GFS model courtesy WeatherBell Analytics.

Looking a bit further out, an even colder period looks to develop by Wednesday into Thursday of next week as a strong Arctic high pressure moves out of Canada, bringing some biting cold air with it. Temperatures will reach their coldest levels of the winter season so far, especially Thursday morning, with teens likely across the region. Highs may struggle to reach the freezing mark both Wednesday and Thursday.

Precipitation is not expected in this pattern, so winter weather should not be a concern. Nevertheless, it may be a good idea to make some early preparations for a period of very cold temperatures later next week, and of course continue to follow MemphisWeather.Net as we will be updating that potential and the forecast temperatures as new model guidance comes in.

Kevin Terry

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