Friday, April 20, 2018

Spring struggling against the lingering forces of winter

Despite being past Tax Day, with most foliage blooming or budding or growing, late winter still seems to want to keep popping its head up like an annoying rodent from Whack-a-Mole.

The past couple of weeks have been evidence, given that we had an 80-degree day a week ago, only to be followed up 3 days later by a record cool day in the mid 40s and several recent mornings with wind chill factors and patchy frost. A persistent pattern featuring an upper level trough over the eastern U.S. is to blame. It also is responsible for a relatively slow start to severe weather season this spring. What does the near-future hold?

Friday and Saturday

For now, we're back in "warm-up" mode after some frosty areas early this morning. April sun and wind that has shifted to the east, rather than north, means temperatures climbing towards 70 today. Saturday will see an increase in clouds, but wind that shifts further around towards the south. Pair it with a morning low that is about 10 degrees warmer, and we should make it to 70 without much trouble. That is still several degrees below our mid-April average though. There is a low chance of some afternoon sprinkles, but overall your Saturday looks to be pretty pleasant for outdoor activities and spring festivals!

Surface map for Friday evening. The low pressure in the Central Rockies will move slowly our direction, dragging the associated precipitation this way, but not before Saturday night. (NWS/WPC)

Saturday night into Sunday

This is when spring rains make their return as weak low pressure moves slowly out of the southern plains and scoots by to our south. Since it will be to our south, with little in the way of instability feeding into the area, I expect we'll see rain and very little thunder. That rain arrives Saturday night (chances increase during the evening) with the wettest period late overnight into Sunday morning. However, scattered showers stick around most of Sunday as the low moves slowly by. It may not be a washout, but you can just pretend that it is as timing any short dry spells will be difficult. Total rainfall will likely end up in the 1-2" range by Sunday night. Temperatures will be below average, as expected on a rainy day, but not too cold - lows in the mid 50s and highs in the lower to mid 60s.

Forecast precipitation amounts through Monday morning from the NWS Weather Prediction Center.

The Severe Weather Outlook for Sunday from the Storm Prediction Center shows that Memphis will be on the edge of a "general" risk of thunderstorms. No severe weather is expected, and in fact, there is a low chance of any thunder at all.

Early next week

As the low slowly shifts east across the southeast U.S. Monday, we'll see "wrap-around" showers off and on Monday, but it will be drier than Sunday. Temperatures will be very similar to Sunday though, so look for 60s in the afternoon. We should catch a bit of a break Tuesday. I don't expect a ton of sun, but rain chances should only be about 20% as the low weakens and departs the region. There is no strong high pressure center replacing it though, thus the lingering clouds mixing with a bit of sun. Temperatures will be a few degrees warmer, maybe pushing 70 again. The mid-week will see another front push through on Wednesday, bringing yet another chance of scattered showers and highs near 70.

By Monday morning, the rainy low pressure center will be well to our southeast, but still close enough to bring a chance of some showers to the area. (NWS/WPC)

Looking ahead

The longer-range shows a dry day Thursday and another front on Friday, but temperatures that reach 70 degrees both days. Fortunately, there are no cold air masses behind any of these, so there is no frost or really cold mornings in the crystal ball. If all goes to plan, we should see things clear up in time for the last weekend in April. Long-range climate models are split on May, but I am thinking that temperatures will be a bit below normal to start the month, then closer to normal by mid to late May. By late May, "near normal" means mid 80s, so don't be surprised if we warm up fairly quickly once we get into May!

The NOAA May outlook indicates slightly above average odds of above normal temperatures for the month, hinging fairly tightly to the American climate models. (NOAA/CPC)

On the other hand, the European ensemble models forecast for the next 6 weeks (46 days) is for below normal temperatures. We'll see which solution wind this battle! (WxBell)

As always, you can get the latest forecasts for the next 7 days, as well as current conditions, StormView Radar, and StormWatch+ severe weather alerts all via the app. Find it at the links below and follow us on social for routine updates.

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Update on tonight's severe storm threat

A strong spring cold front is moving towards the Mid-South, but it will take its sweet time, not arriving until Saturday afternoon. However, ahead of that, storms will form to our west later this afternoon and begin a slow march across Arkansas this evening. That is where the Storm Prediction Center has forecast the highest chance of severe weather, including large hail, damaging wind, and a few tornadoes.


As the storms move east overnight, they will encounter slightly more stable air, resulting in a general decrease in storm intensity, as well as organization into a squall line. The line will likely affect the metro between midnight and 4am, though a couple of high-resolution models favor a slightly earlier approach closer to 11pm. The good news for those who have evening plans, including the Friday Night Stripes event at the Liberty Bowl, is that the later time should allow those events to wrap up prior to the storm's arrival. However, there is a chance of showers this evening, so I'm not necessarily indicating it will be completely dry until the line hits.

The Memphis area is under an Enhanced Risk (level 3/5) of severe weather tonight, mainly after midnight. Damaging wind and very heavy rain are the primary threats.


While all modes of severe weather are possible to our west, where greater instability resides, as the line approaches, the primary threat shifts to the possibility of damaging wind. There is also an isolated tornado threat due to the magnitude of the wind with this system, but that threat drops off considerably as the line nears the Mississippi River. Finally, due to the copious amount of moisture in the atmosphere tonight and slow motion of the system, the storms and heavy rain that trails them could produce areas of flash flooding, particularly in the urban setting. Always be cautious of crossing water that covers a road in the dark. Rainfall totals by sunrise Saturday could be near 2-3" with up to an additional inch possible Saturday. A Flash Flood Watch is in effect through 1pm Saturday.

SPC-forecast probabilities of severe weather occurring within 25 miles: 5-10% chance of a tornado, 5% chance of large hail, and about a 45% chance of damaging wind. (SPC)


Obviously with storms expected overnight, when many of you are already asleep, you need to have some way of getting warnings that will wake you up. NOAA Weather Radio works great and is recommended. We also highly recommend you check out StormWatch+ in the mobile app. For about 1/3 of the cost of a weather radio, you get fully customizable, portable weather alerts that will wake you up only for the most severe storms. Visit for more on the MWN mobile app, or simply activate StormWatch+ from the SW+ tab in your MWN app!

If you have plans to be out tonight, we recommend being where you have access to a safe place by about 11pm. Of course, we'll keep you updated on the latest timing and threats via our social media feeds, which you will find linked below.


As for Saturday, because the system is moving so slowly, and the likelihood of a weak low pressure center forming and moving north along the front, there is a good chance of additional rain during the day. Models are somewhat split on the timing for Saturday, but my best educated guess says that lingering rain will occur into the morning, with a lull around mid-day, and then additional shower chances in the mid-to-late afternoon time period. In addition, the atmosphere is expected to destabilize again tomorrow afternoon, mainly east of Memphis, as the front finally moves through. Thus, a thunderstorm can't be completely ruled out, especially east of the city.

Areas east of the Mississippi River in the metro are under a Marginal Risk (level 1/5) of severe weather Saturday. The most likely location for any severe storms will be well to our south and east.. (SPC)
Dry and much cooler weather arrives on Sunday with clouds likely to linger as well. The dry trend looks to continue for most of next week with quickly moderating temperatures after Monday.

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

One big fly in the spring ointment - weekend rain

With the return of southerly wind today, we're finally starting to get a good taste of spring despite a cool start. With abundant sunshine in place, we are topping out near 70 degrees this afternoon. That trend continues as we head into the end of the week!

Thursday - Friday

The warming continues as high temperatures reach the upper 70s each day with mild lows in the 50s Thursday and 60s Friday. We'll still see a good deal of sunshine Thursday, but the clouds increase and thicken heading into Friday. The biggest issue will be the wind. That south wind gets mildly ferocious as gusts reach 30 mph each day. Trade-off for the nice temps I guess!

Friday Night - Saturday

Note the title of the blog. Here comes the fly (and it's a big one, like the kind that can scare large toddlers), just in time for a bunch of springtime outdoor activities across the city.

A slow-moving cold front pushes towards the Mid-South by Friday evening. With it, we can expect frog-stranglers and gully-washers, as well as some thunderstorms, to arrive Friday night. In fact, during the day Friday, severe weather is likely to our west (while we stay dry). The ETA for our rain is starting to narrow in on the late evening hours Friday. While a few showers are possible early in the evening (6-9pm), rain chances ramp up quickly as we get later into the evening (9-11pm), to the point that by the time we hit midnight, it's almost a certainty. Storms are also expected overnight Friday night. We're hopeful that the rain holds off for the Memphis Tiger football #FridayNightLights event at the Liberty Bowl Friday evening!

Forecast radar loop from mid-day Friday through Saturday evening from the Wednesday morning run of the NAM model. It thinks we'll get rain Friday night, a lull Saturday morning, then additional showers Saturday PM. (PivotalWx)
As for severe weather, I mentioned storms to our west Friday. As the system gets closer, the threat of severe storms declines. However, as of Wednesday morning, the Storm Prediction Center includes the Memphis metro in a Marginal Risk (level 1/5) of severe weather, mainly for damaging wind, Friday night. Areas west of the river are under a Slight Risk (level 2/5). We'll be watching this the next couple days for the potential of a shift in that risk, up or down.

By Saturday, there are a couple of trains of thought in the model data. The front will move through very slowly due to upper level wind basically paralleling the front, thus not providing much of a "push" for it to move east. There appears to be a secondary low pressure system that develops to our south and moves north up the front on Saturday. That low would provide the threat for either additional, or continuing, rainfall for at least parts of the day. I don't expect a completely dry day.

If you believe the GFS and NAM models ("Made in America," NAM shown above), we'll see a lull in the rain Saturday morning with an additional chance of afternoon and early evening showers as the low moves by to our east. If you believe the European model, which may or may not come with tariffs now, it is a little slower with its eastward push of moisture and lends itself to a wetter Saturday, though not deluges. Either way, it will probably be mild (upper 50s-60s) and damp.

Total rainfall will really depend on the speed of the front and the coverage of thunderstorms Friday night. As of early this morning, the NWS was fairly bullish with 3-5" over the area. More recent data suggests perhaps 1-3". Still time to figure that one out, but expect periods of heavy rain, especially overnight Friday night. The severe weather threat Saturday will have shifted to our southeast.

NWS forecast for rainfall Friday-Saturday. Later data will likely result in a downward trend from the NWS in the next forecast update. (NWS/WxBell)

SPC severe weather outlook for Saturday, as the threat of severe storms moves to our southeast.

Sunday and beyond

As this big weather system shifts to the east coast, Sunday will likely feature wrap-around clouds and gusty north wind, meaning a chilly day. Look for temperatures ranging from the mid 40s in the morning to mid 50s in the afternoon, plus that wind. Sun returns as we head back to work next week (because... Monday) and temperatures start to moderate once again. Highs rebound into the 70s by Tuesday with a slight chance of rain on Wednesday, but nothing like the weekend system. In other words, spring warmth is interrupted for a couple days by a rainmaker - typical for this time of year!

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Monday, April 9, 2018

March 2018 Climate Data for Memphis, TN

March Climate Recap

As is typical for early spring in the Mid-South, temperatures fluctuated quite a bit in March, however the monthly average ended up right at average. No records were set despite have high temperatures that ranged from the mid 40s to upper 70s and lows that swung from the near 60 degrees to near freezing. There was one day (13th) with a sub-freezing low temperature (31 degrees). This would have marked the start of the 2018 growing season if it were not for another sub-freezing low in the first week of April!

The trend of heavy precipitation in February continued into the first week of March, as nearly an inch and a half of rain fell in the first five days of the month and the Mississippi River and its tributaries remained high. Much of the rest of the month was dry however, until the last few days when a weather system produced over two inches of rain (and nearly 50% of the total for the month) on the 28th.

Memphis International Airport, Memphis, TN

Average temperature: 54.1 degrees (0.1 degrees above average)
Average high temperature: 63.6 degrees (0.3 degrees below average)
Average low temperature: 44.6 degrees (0.5 degrees above average)
Warmest temperature: 78 degrees (27th)
Coolest temperature: 31 degrees (13th)
Heating Degrees Days: 333 (25 below average)
Cooling Degree Days: 4 (13 below average)
Records set or tied: None
Comments: None

Monthly total: 4.44" (0.72" below average)
Days with measurable precipitation: 12
Wettest 24-hour period: 2.12" (28th)
Snowfall: 0.0" (0.4" below average)
Records set or tied: None
Comments: Two days recorded more than 0.5" and one day saw more than an inch of rain fall.

Peak wind: South/38 mph (27th)
Average wind: 9.7 mph
Average relative humidity: 64%
Average sky cover: 60%

Click here for a daily statistical recap for Memphis International Airport.

Cirrus Weather Solutions /, Bartlett, TN

Average temperature: 53.4 degrees
Average high temperature: 64.6 degrees
Average low temperature: 42.2 degrees
Warmest temperature: 79.9 degrees (27th)
Coolest temperature: 29.6 degrees (8th)
Comments: None

Monthly total: 4.06" (automated rain gauge), 4.54" (manual CoCoRaHS rain gauge)
Days with measurable precipitation: 13
Wettest date: 1.75" (28th) (via automated gauge)
Snowfall: None
Comments: None

Peak wind: Northwest/30 mph (6th)
Average relative humidity: 71%
Average barometric pressure: 30.05 in. Hg

Click here for a daily statistical recap for Bartlett, TN.

MWN Forecast Accuracy

MWN average temperature error: 2.58 degrees
MWN forecast temperatures within 2 degrees of actual: 59%
MWN average dewpoint error: 2.98 degrees
MWN forecast dewpoints within 2 degrees of actual: 53%

MWN's forecasts extend out five periods (2.5 days, or roughly 60 hours). Historical accuracy statistics can be found here.

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MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Friday, April 6, 2018

Saturday morning wintry mix??

Just a quick update to our blog post from last evening. My discussion on the front arriving tonight is still accurate. Rain is expected to develop soon and linger throughout the afternoon hours, fairly steady at times. The heaviest remains in north MS and our thunder chance is low. The front arrives around 10pm tonight and then things go south from there - including the mild air! Very gusty north wind will shove the 50s, and the 40s, well down into MS.

Then what?

An upper level disturbance will move through the region early Saturday morning, bringing another round of light precipitation. Most will fall as cold rain (and I do mean cold - temperatures will be in the 30s with a gusty north wind!). However, despite the metro staying above freezing in the mid 30s, the temperatures aloft will drop below freezing, meaning that some light sleet, or possibly a few snowflakes, could mix with the rain between about 7am-11am Saturday.

This very unwelcome early April wintry mix is most likely north of the TN/MS line. The surface temperature may drop to 32° as far south as Tipton County, so a bit of freezing rain is also possible during this period, say around Covington, but not expected further south. I expect temperatures to bottom out at 33-35° along the I-40 corridor. All precipitation that falls will be LIGHT. No model is forecasting more than 0.05" of precipitation during the morning hours, and some of that will be rain. With temperatures above freezing and amounts being very light, little if any impact is expected, other than seeing it fall and thinking... WTH.

Here are the bullet points:

What: Possible mix of light sleet or flurries mixing with rain
When: 7am-11am Saturday
How much: Not enough to cause any problems, even on bridges and overpasses
Temperatures: Lows of 33-35° around 8am. In the 30s all morning long.
How to react: IT'S APRIL 7TH! HOW DO YOU THINK?!? ;-) (Don't even consider that extra trip to the grocery...)

When does it warm up?

Not tomorrow. Highs in the mid 40s with a cold north wind. Sunday gets a little better (57°), but not before we all likely reach freezing Sunday morning. Cover the plants one last time. Monday and Tuesday will be in the low to mid 60s.  Wednesday we're back to normal at 70°. It gets warmer from there. Let's just get through the weekend.

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Second verse, same as the first: Another round of rain & storms, then Canadian cold

Another big front arrives Friday evening, resulting in yet another heavy rain threat and trailing Canadian air, but first we take a quick look back at Tuesday evening's Moderate Risk event that was(n't)...

Tuesday's storm reports overlaid on the early afternoon severe weather outlook. Blue indicators are severe wind or wind damage, green dots are large hail, and red dots are tornadoes (NOAA/SPC)

Recap of Tuesday's storm system

The image above shows the severe weather outlook issued early Tuesday afternoon with the storm reports received by the National Weather Service Tuesday and Tuesday night. Blue indicators are severe wind or wind damage, green dots are large hail, and red dots are tornadoes. From a big picture perspective, we were pretty fortunate. There were hundreds of reports, but basically none in the metro, outside of a hail reports in northwest MS. There was a confirmed EF-1 tornado in the southern Missouri Bootheel.

Overall, clusters of storms to our west and northwest produced mostly hail, then as they formed into a squall line, there was plenty of strong wind and wind damage to our east. This is not an unusual pattern - in which individual storms become a line as they move east. We are often in the transition area. In this case, we still had clusters of storms when the front hit the river, with the primary ones near the metro going by just to our north and south.

Radar loop from about 7pm Tuesday evening as storms split the metro.

See the total rainfall from the same time period below. Note the gap where the red arrows are lined up. Clusters of storms north (including the tornadic one) and a large area of storms in the Delta to our south. Meanwhile, we didn't get enough rain to wash the pollen off. That's the way it goes sometimes. I'd much prefer this to showing you photos of damage in the city and lives ruined.

24-hour rainfall from Tuesday 7am-Wednesday 7am. (NWS / WxBell)

One final image that I believe is poignant, given the events of the week here in Memphis:

Looking ahead - another round of rain and cold weather

Full April sunshine on Wednesday wasn't enough to overcome the cold air behind that system and highs remained in the low 50s. As high pressure moved overhead, we had ideal conditions for a very chilly morning this morning with lows in the 30s. Despite getting back into the lower 60s today, the next system looms, and it too will escort another blast of air more fit for winter than spring.

Showers arrive overnight tonight with rain increasing in coverage and intensity Friday. Have your rain gear on hand! A few thunderstorms are possible, though not severe. We'll top out near 60 Friday after a more mild night tonight on southerly wind. By late tomorrow afternoon into the early evening, another potent front moves through the region. Look for a slightly better chance of storms as it does, with a very low end risk of a severe storm. SPC places north MS in a Marginal Risk (level 1/5), mainly for a hail threat. Higher chances of severe storms will be well south and west of the metro where instability and strong upper level wind will be higher as the front plows into the region. Rainfall amounts with this storm system will likely end up in the 1-2" range.

The severe weather outlook for Friday, showing the most likely area for severe storms well south and west of the metro. (NOAA/SPC)

Behind the front, during the evening hours Friday, steady rain is likely and temperatures will plummet on very gusty north wind. Believe me, if you are out, you will know when the front hits! Wind picks up to include 30 mph gusts and temperatures fall quickly into the 40s. For a few days now, we have been watching carefully the timing of departing precipitation and arriving cold air. Yes, it is the end of the first week of April. Mother Nature doesn't care.

Fortunately, rain looks to move out overnight Friday night and temperatures look to stop falling when they get to the mid 30s. (Yes, mid THIRTIES.) So no wintry precipitation is expected in the metro. However, a light wintry mix is possible in northwest TN, the bootheel, and northern AR. Ridiculous, I know.

The weekend and beyond

For you early risers Saturday, wind chills will be in the 20s, temperatures in the 30s, but no frost is likely because of the gusty wind. Bundle up! Clouds depart during the day Saturday, but a cool wind makes it feel colder than the 50-degree high we will top out at. Another decent radiational cooling night is ahead Saturday night, meaning lows drop into the low to mid 30s Sunday morning. Picture this (Thursday) morning, but a few degrees colder. You'll want to protect outdoor vegetation that could be harmed by cold weather Saturday night.

Fortunately, a rebound is in order next week and the crystal ball says this weekend should be the last really cold blast of the season. We're looking at 70s by mid-week and continued warming further out.

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Monday, April 2, 2018

Severe weather threat materializing for Tuesday

A warm front has been moving north across the metro today, putting the region back into warmer, more muggy air that has remained south of us today. The warm front is lifting north as low pressure moves east across the Missouri Valley from Kansas towards the southern Great Lakes region by tomorrow evening. Meanwhile, a potent front sweeps towards the region on Tuesday.

Surface map from the National Weather Service valid overnight tonight shows the warm front just to our north with strong low pressure over Kansas.
On Tuesday, the Mid-South will be firmly entrenched in the warm sector of the approaching system, resulting in a windy day with southerly gusts of 30-40 mph and eventually partly sunny skies. (A Wind Advisory is in effect for counties east of the Mississippi River on Tuesday.) The appearance of the sun will boost instability indices, meaning the air will be more unstable, similar to turning the heat up on a tea kettle (or a pot of water on the stove, for those that don't drink hot tea!).

As the front approaches by late afternoon, thunderstorms will develop to our west and gain strength as they move into an airmass marked by temperatures in the mid 70s and dewpoints in the lower to mid 60s. A watch box appears likely. As the storms band together into a squall line, they will race across the Memphis area during the early evening, also likely prompting severe weather warnings.

The high-resolution NAM model from Monday morning projects a line of strong storms across the heart of the metro between 7-8pm Tuesday. (WxBell)

The bottom line:

What: Squall line of strong to severe storms, moving quickly east
When: 5-10pm CDT, Tuesday (likely moving across the city in the 6-8pm timeframe)
Threats (highest to lowest):

  1. Damaging wind of 60+ mph (moderate-high threat)
  2. Hail up to 1", or quarter size (moderate threat)
  3. Isolated tornado embedded within the squall line (low threat)
  4. Heavy downpours that could lead to ponding of water (low threat)

The follow graphic summarizes the event, as of 3:30pm Monday:

Behind the front, wind will shift to the northwest and remain gusty, quickly ushering in much cooler air. Temperatures will fall to near 60 degrees immediately when the line hits and then through the 50s during the late evening and 40s overnight as skies clear. Wednesday morning lows will be in the lower 40s with wind chills in the 30s! Despite sunshine, highs only top out in the 50s Wednesday with a reduced north wind. Thursday morning lows will be in the 30s and could result in widespread frost, particularly outside the city.

Be prepared!

Tuesday early evening brings a decent potential for severe storms. Know where you will be during the times of concern and what your action plan will be if warnings are issued. Keep in touch with your favorite local weather sources throughout the day for any updates. And finally, have multiple ways to receive these warnings. We strongly recommend StormWatch+ Alerts in the mobile app, available through a one-time in-app purchase, to provide you pinpoint warnings for your specific location.

In addition, gusty wind throughout the day will require that you secure any loose outdoor objects in order to avoid losing them! Finally, don't be surprised by temperatures that are about 35 degrees colder Wednesday morning than they are on Tuesday afternoon!

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

Follow MWN on Facebook and Twitter for routine updates and the latest info!
Complete MWN Forecast: on the mobile web or via the MWN mobile app
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MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder