Thursday, April 28, 2016

Memphis in May starts this weekend - so of course it's going to rain!

Last year, the first weekend in May, and by association the Beale Street Music Festival, was blessed with amazing weather. But as you might expect from "Memphis in Mud," consecutive years would be taking it a bit too far! So, get those galoshes, rain boots, and ponchos ready (because umbrellas aren't allowed), and let's dig into the details of what to expect this weekend, whether you're headed downtown, to Arlington in April, or just having a spring garage sale!

Though the general pattern from Friday through Sunday is a wet one, there will definitely be some "lulls" as it won't rain the entire weekend. Hopefully this will provide some idea of when those might occur. A couple of "up-front" notes: severe weather chances are very low, so we don't expect any large hail, high wind, or tornadoes to strike a crowded outdoor event. However, rain will be heavy at times and lightning is also expected. We recommend you have a plan for what to do if you start hearing thunder - and standing under a lone tall tree ain't it.


The pleasant spring weather we've had today quickly gets inundated by Friday's lunch hour as low pressure forms over west TX, pulling a warm front north from the Deep South into the Mid-South. While the morning hours will be mainly dry, the afternoon will be mainly wet with periods of heavy rain possible, but minimal lightning.

The surface map for mid-day Friday shows a stationary front to our south as it gets ready to move north. Dark green is where highest rain chances are and the area to our west will expand east during the afternoon hours.
As the warm front approaches in the evening, some thunderstorms will also be likely and rain could continue deep into the overnight hours. Rainfall amounts Friday afternoon through early Saturday will likely be pretty close to an inch with much heavier amounts to our west. Again, severe weather is not expected. Temperatures Friday will top out in the upper 70s and remain mild (near 70) in the evening hours.

The "most likely" precipitation total map through midnight Friday night indicates 3/4" or more of rain is expected with the initial wave of precipitation Friday.  2-3" may fall across  parts of Arkansas.


The daytime hours Saturday will probably see a break from the steady rain with just scattered showers or thunderstorms possible. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised to see some fairly lengthy dry periods from morning through mid-afternoon. With the warm front to our north and the next cold front well to the west, there won't be a lot to trigger storm initiation outside of a weak passing upper level disturbance. With gusty southerly wind pushing temperatures to near 80 and very humid air in place, it won't take much to pop off a few thunderstorm cells though, so I'm not willing to call it a dry day.

By Saturday night, the low pressure center will be moving across the Missouri River Valley, dragging the cold front closer and rain and thunderstorm chances increase. If it stays fairly dry during the day, perhaps even with a peek of sunshine, instability will be pretty high, so lightning and thunder appears likely by evening. Severe weather chances should remain minimal with the main threats being a strong gust of wind or small hail, besides heavy rainfall. Evening temperatures will again be in the 70 degree range. Total rainfall Saturday and Saturday night could be another inch or so.

The surface map for Saturday early evening shows precipitation chances increasing again as a cold front approaches from the west. By Sunday morning, that front will be along the Mississippi River, marking an end to steady precipitation. Thunderstorms will also be possible as the front approaches Saturday night.

The "most likely" precipitation totals map for the period Saturday morning through the overnight hours Saturday night shows another 3/4" or so of rain will fall. 


The cold front moves through Sunday morning. It's passage should end just about all rain chances, though a post-frontal trough could wrap around the low to our north and bring a shower or two. Overall, we believe chances are low and by noon we should start seeing some sunshine. The rest of the day looks downright pleasant with highs in the upper 70s to near 80 and a breeze with a northerly component whisking the humidity to the south.

Total precipitation forecast by the NWS through Sunday afternoon indicates at least 2" of rain is expected in the Memphis metro this weekend.
Overall, we advise keeping rain gear handy and remaining weather aware throughout the weekend. We'll be nowcasting for the entire metro throughout the weekend on our social media channels below with an emphasis on Music Fest. You'll also be able to find radar, live tweets, and more through our mobile apps for Android and iOS (links below). Stay safe and stay dry (if possible!).

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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