Sunday, December 27, 2020

Wet weather to finish out 2020, details on winter weather potential

Following a very cold Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (the coldest Christmas in Memphis in 20 years actually!), the weekend has proven to be just delightful. After topping out just above freezing Friday, we saw 20 degrees of warming Saturday, into the mid 50s, and another 10 degrees of warming today as the mercury reached the mid 60s on a strong and gusty south wind! The New Year's week forecast, though, shapes up to be rather active as the next big storm system brews to our west.

Early week tranquility

A fast-moving cold front slices through the Mid-South tonight, but with limited moisture, only scattered showers with light rainfall amounts are expected tonight. Temperatures will be back down in the 50s Monday with dry conditions but high clouds overhead and much less wind. The same general conditions are expected on Tuesday with lows above freezing and highs in the mid 50s - overall a bit above normal. Wednesday things start to get interesting...

Sunday afternoon HRRR model showing what it thinks radar may look like from 6pm to 6am tonight. Scattered light showers are most likely in the evening hours. (WeatherBell)

Strong winter storm setup

We are closely watching the next big weather maker for the Mid-South, which will move into the area on New Year's Eve. This system, as of Sunday afternoon, is still over the Pacific moving east and will move onshore late tonight.  It will then move east across the southwestern US during Monday and Tuesday, and will be located across the Southern Plains on Wednesday, with everything from thunderstorms and potential severe weather across Texas and Oklahoma, to winter weather across the Central Plains and snow all the way up to the Canadian border.

Forecasted surface features from WPC valid for Tuesday evening (NOAA/NWS)

Last few days of 2020

By Wednesday morning, the cold front will be located from the Midwest into Texas, with precipitation along and ahead of the front from Lake Michigan into Oklahoma and Texas.  During the day Wednesday, we should begin to see rain a few showers across the area as the front pushes east.  By Wednesday night into Thursday morning (New Year's Eve), rain will be ongoing as the cold front pushes into the Mid-South but stalls.  An area of low pressure will form along the cold front in Louisiana, and ride northeast along the front Thursday, moving into the Mid-South Thursday evening.  This is where things get... complicated.

Wet weather starts the New Year

Thursday evening we will see rain showers, with a few thunderstorms mainly across northern Mississippi in the more unstable and warm air.  As we ring in the New Year, rain will be moving over the region with winter weather across eastern Oklahoma, western Arkansas and southern Missouri.  The showers over the Mid-South will be tapering off towards daybreak Friday, while snow showers may be ongoing across north-central Arkansas and the Missouri Bootheel.  Total rainfall amounts from Wednesday evening thru early Friday afternoon for the Mid-South will be 2 to 3 inches, with isolated amounts of 4 inches. Yeah, it'll be a soaker!

European model surface map when the guitar drops on Beale Street - 12am Friday (PivotalWeather)

Questions and concerns

At this point, we cannot rule out the potential for snow showers across portions of the Mid-South Thursday night or early Friday, with little to no accumulation.  However, the low is forecasted by most models to stay just to our west in Arkansas as it pushes northeast, keeping the cold air and winter weather potential to our west on the "backside" of the low.  The main complication will be if the front moves thru quicker than forecasted, which would bring that winter weather in Arkansas closer to the Mid-South.  This scenario seems to be less likely, at least at this time. (You all know that forecasting winter weather 4-5 days in advance though can be a little tricky! Don't give up hope just yet!)

Clearing out on Friday
By noon on Friday, rain should be well out of the area, with decreasing clouds, breezy southwest winds and temps in the mid 40's.  The weekend looks dry, with highs in the mid to upper 40's, and lows in the upper 20's - not far from average for the first of January. So if you're looking for snow to ring in the new year, you will be better off traveling to the Ozarks!

Richard Hoseney
MWN Meteorologist

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Monday, December 21, 2020

Winter officially arrives today, but cold winter air waits until Christmas. How about winter precip?

Quick outlook

Pleasant weather for the first half of the week, rain chances Wednesday, then clear and cold for Christmas.

First half of the week

As winter officially arrives (Monday morning at 4:02am), Monday thru Wednesday will be nice with a return of southerly winds which will bring highs near 60.  Skies will be clear for Monday and most of Tuesday, with increasing clouds Tuesday night.  By Wednesday morning, a cold front will be located from Minnesota and south into the Southern Plains, with rain chances increasing as the front pushes east into more humid conditions across the lower Mississippi Valley.

Wednesday morning surface map

Wednesday cold front

This front will push into the Mid-South Wednesday around sunset with rain chances and windy conditions arriving Wednesday, particularly in the afternoon and evening.  Behind the front, much colder temperatures will quickly push in on a cold northwest wind.  There also will be the potential for some winter weather in far northern Tennessee, but any winter precipitation would be light and not likely to affect the metro. Expect rainfall to diminish by midnight Wednesday night before the coldest air arrives. 

Christmas Outlook

As documented on this blog previously, a White Christmas is extremely rare in Memphis. And this year, despite the chill, will not buck the "sNOw" trend. Christmas Eve (Thursday) and Christmas Day (Friday) will be much colder than the temperatures we will have had in the first part of the week, with highs near 40 and lows near freezing Thursday morning and in the low 20's Christmas morning.  It will be clear, with no precipitation in the forecast.  So Santa will have clear skies and chilly weather as he makes his trip thru the Mid-South!

Weekend outlook

Thankfully, the weekend will be a bit warmer. Saturday will see highs pushing 50 degrees under sunny skies after sub-freezing morning lows. Sunday will be a bit warmer (in the 50s) but with rain chances again as the next frontal system arrives.

Richard Hoseney
MWN Meteorologist

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

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Unusually warm weather turns wet & cool soon!

Warm & sunny feels good!

Warmer than normal temperatures continue for the Mid-South, thanks to a ridge of high pressure that is to our east.  This means we'll continue to see warm southerly winds today and Friday that will lead to above normal temperatures.  Highs will peak just above 70 today, with clouds moving in late Thursday night, followed by cloudy skies and highs in the mid 60's on Friday.

Those highs are roughly about 15-20 degrees warmer than normal, with the normal high this time of year at 53 degrees. A large portion of the eastern US is currently warmer than normal, as show in the graphic below for highs on Thursday (shown in numbers) and the departure from normal (color fill).

Max temperatures & departure from normal (NWS/WPC)


Changes are coming Friday night as a cold front, currently stretching from the Northern Plains to the Rockies and Desert Southwest, will push into the Mid-South.  This will bring rain to the area by Friday evening that should end early on Saturday.  Precipitation amounts will likely be near or below 1/2" with no thunder expected. Highs Saturday will be near 60 with a westerly breeze. With this system gone, it appears the Memphis Tiger football team's season-ender at the Liberty Bowl Saturday afternoon will be dry with temperatures near 60! Go Tigers!

Forecast surface map valid for Friday evening.

Cooler weather begins to move in Saturday evening, and on Sunday highs will only reach the upper 40's to near 50.  There is also another chance for rain Sunday afternoon/evening as a fast moving disturbance moves through north MS.  Most models are on board with this solution, which is a good thing.  If this precipitation slows down and arrives late Sunday evening, there would be the possibility of winter weather (and very light amounts at that).  But as it stands right now, only liquid precipitation is expected.

Next week

Temperatures for next week look to be near or slightly below normal, with highs in the mid 40s to near 50 and lows in the 30's. So enjoy the warm weather while it lasts!  This may be the last reprieve from cooler weather we'll get for a quite a while!

Richard Hoseney
MWN Meteorologist

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

Monday, December 7, 2020

November 2020 Climate Data for Memphis, TN

November Climate Recap

After a cool and somewhat wet October that was marked by two passing tropical systems, November swung towards warm and dry. All but seven days averaged above normal temperature-wise with seven of those above average days at or above 10 degrees above normal, including a high of 82 on the 8th. In fact, the average high temperature for the month ended up 7th warmest on record, while the average temperature for the month was in the top 10% of all Novembers on record. The month ended cold though, with highs in the 40s on the 29th and 30th, a low of 28 on the 30th, and even a trace of snowfall that day behind a cold front on the 29th. Only four days had rainfall totals of more than 0.01" and no days with more than an inch, resulting in a monthly total at 32% of normal. There was no severe weather during the month and no warning issued.

Memphis International Airport, Memphis, TN

Average temperature: 56.4 degrees (3.2 degrees above average) 
Average high temperature: 67.2 degrees (4.6 degrees above average) 
Average low temperature: 45.6  degrees (1.9 degrees above average) 
Warmest temperature: 82 degrees (8th) 
Coolest temperature: 28 degrees (30th) 
Heating Degrees Days: 273 (95 below average)
Cooling Degree Days: 23 (10 above average) 
Records set or tied: None 
Comments: The average high temperature for the month of 67.2 degrees was 7th warmest on record.

Monthly total: 1.74" (3.75" below average) 
Days with measurable precipitation: 5 (4.5 days below average) 
Wettest 24-hour period: 0.78" (25th) 
Snowfall: Trace 
Records set or tied: Record daily snowfall tied - Trace (30th / 1974)
Comments: None.

Peak wind: West/43 mph (15th) 
Average wind: 7.4 mph 
Average relative humidity: 62% 
Average sky cover: 38% 

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

Cirrus Weather Solutions /, Bartlett, TN

Average temperature: 54.3 degrees 
Average high temperature: 66.8 degrees 
Average low temperature: 42.5 degrees 
Warmest temperature: 80.5 degrees (8th) 
Coolest temperature: 27.2 degrees (30th) 
Comments: None 

Monthly total: 1.69" (automated rain gauge), 1.80"(manual CoCoRaHS rain gauge) 
Days with measurable precipitation: 5
Wettest date: 0.60" (25th) (via automated gauge) 
Snowfall: Trace 
Comments: Snow flurries were recorded on the morning of November 30

Peak wind: South/33 mph (25th)
Average relative humidity: 73% 
Average barometric pressure: 30.17 in. Hg
Comments: None

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

MWN Forecast Accuracy

MWN average temperature error: 2.08 degrees 
MWN forecast temperatures within 2 degrees of actual: 67% 
MWN average dewpoint error: 2.38 degrees 
MWN forecast dewpoints within 2 degrees of actual: 67% 

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

Climate Outlook - December 2020

The December climate outlook for the United States from the Climate Prediction Center is shown below. Above average temperatures are forecast for much of the United States, with highest probabilities in the Great Plains. Odds favor near average temperatures for Memphis, with a 34% chance of above normal and 33% chances of below and near normal. The average temperature for December is 43.6 degrees, or about 10 degrees cooler than November.

Precipitation is expected to be below normal across much of the U.S. in December with the exception of the Northeast. Near average precipitation is forecast for the Northwest and Appalachian Mountains into Florida. For Memphis, odds favor below average rainfall (a 46% chance) versus only an 21% chance of above average rainfall. Precipitation historically averages 5.74 inches, making December typically the wettest month of the year. 

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

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Another chance for winter weather this week?

With our first "winter weather event" (cold rain Sunday and flurries Monday) behind us, but cold air still in place, it's time to look ahead to the next weather maker that will move into the region. We'll dissect the chances that additional winter weather might occur in today's blog.

Upper level features

An upper-air trough of low pressure will push into the Central and Southern Plains over the next couple of days, and will become cutoff from the main area of the jet stream that is over central Canada.  The jet stream will begin to push east over the northern Great Lakes, eventually merging with in an area of low pressure currently over the Northeast US that will be located over northeast Canada on Friday.  The cutoff low over the Central and Southern Plains will slowly move east and over the Mid-South this weekend.

Jet stream forecast valid for Thursday night (GFS model)

Surface weather

At the surface, a low pressure system will develop over the Southern Plains on Wednesday, and moisture from the western Gulf of Mexico will begin to be pulled into the low, with rain occurring from eastern Texas into Oklahoma and snow likely in western Oklahoma. 

Surface features valid for Wednesday afternoon (NWS/WPC)

Starting to our north...

On Thursday, the low will move east into Arkansas, and the associated precipitation will move into Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana, with some mixed precipitation expected early Thursday morning over southern Missouri and possibly northern Arkansas and far northwest Tennessee where temperatures will be in the low to mid 30's.  We will likely see some sleet or graupel ("dippin dots") reports over northern Arkansas and northern Tennessee early Thursday, much like we did on Sunday at the onset of the precipitation, as there will be a layer of dry air in the lower levels of the atmosphere.

Upper air sounding forecast for northeast AR for late Thursday night.

Forecast precipitation type for early Thursday morning (European model)

Closer to home...

For the Memphis area, scattered light rain showers will begin to move into the area early Thursday morning, followed by steadier rain showers around daybreak, with temperatures near 40, which will result in all liquid precipitation for the Memphis area.  This rain should end by early Friday morning as the upper low begins to move over the area and forces the precipitation to our east.

As this low moves east of us on Saturday, the potential for wraparound moisture increases, as temperatures drop into the mid 30's.  This could bring about another chance for a few snow flurries Saturday morning for the Mid-South, which wouldn't be anything to worry about. This would be very similar to what we saw on Monday. Any flurries should come to an end Saturday afternoon as dry air moves in and clouds clear out.

Dry weather looks to continue all next week, with rain chances returning for the weekend (12th & 13th).  So no snow day just yet, kids (and adults)!

Possible alternate scenarios

The only discrepancies I see right now is the timing of the low moving thru the region.  The European model is much faster, and has the low east of us by Friday night, while most of the other models have the low still over Arkansas.  The main issue with that is the timing of the precipitation ends Thursday night according to the European model, and the consensus of the other models have the precipitation ending early Friday morning.  However, the European model has had a tough time trying to figure out where the low will be over the past few days, so I've sided with the consensus of the other models on the timing of the precipitation moving out.  As far as the onset of precipitation and type, the European and other models have pretty good agreement.

Richard Hoseney
MWN Meteorologist

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

Saturday, November 28, 2020

A wet Sunday leads to a December chill as cold Canadian air plunges south

With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, the 2020 calendar is about to flip one more page to December... and it can't come soon enough! However, if the weather for the month ahead is anything like the first week of December promises to be, I might have to reconsider.

Weekend weather (enjoy today!)

Today might be the last "decent" day in the 7-day forecast period, depending on how you define decent. While we'll have a handful of pretty-to-look-out-the-window-at days, the the cold air shifting our way is no joke for early December. Expect plenty of sunshine for your Saturday with highs in the mid to perhaps upper 50s with a northeast breeze. It'll be a good day to make sure your plants and pets are ready for the arrival of Canadian air on the horizon, as Sunday will be cold and wet. Dry weather continues overnight, but by lunchtime Sunday, rain will be arriving and continue into the evening hours as surface low pressure moves by to our south. The rain and cloud cover will result in temperatures in the 40s throughout the day. A cold north wind will mean heavier raincoats or layers will be the best option if you plan to get out.

The high-resolution NAM3 model forecast precipitation from 6am Sunday to 6am Monday shows the likely progression of rainfall across the Mid-South.

Sunday night flakes?

Sunday evening into Monday morning has been an interesting forecast this week. While surface temperatures stay above freezing (but in the 30s), temperatures in the lowest few thousand feet of the atmosphere are likely to fall below freezing by evening as a cold pocket under an upper level low moves overhead. If it gets cold enough, and precipitation lingers, light rain could mix with a few wet snowflakes with surface temperatures in the mid to upper 30s. These would be "no-worry flurries" that would splat and melt on the ground, and are more likely across parts of west TN northeast of the metro. 

The profile of the atmosphere for Sunday night at midnight shows warm surface temperatures (comparably) but cold (at or below freezing) temperatures between about 3,000-8,000 feet. The big question is whether any frozen precipitation aloft melts before it gets to the ground. (Pivotal Weather)

For now, the chances appear very low in the metro proper, but don't be shocked if you see some. Finally, as the low departs a couple models-in-the-minority want to squeeze out a few snowflakes Monday morning. Doubtful, but not impossible. With temperatures at or above freezing all night, no issues are expected for Monday morning's commute either way. (I see you, teachers heading back to class Monday morning...and I understand.)

The blob of cold air aloft moves over the area Monday and likely keeps some cloud cover around for a good part of the day with clearing sometime in the afternoon or maybe evening. With cold air advection (or, movement of air) continuing, we'll spend most of Monday in the 30s (you read that right) and a northwest wind gusting to 25 mph. Just brutal. Stay in if you can. 

Wind chill forecast for noon Monday according to the NAM3 model. That says "21" for Memphis! (Pivotal Weather)

Early December chill

As the clouds clear and wind dies down Monday night, we're in for the coldest night since before the pandemic (late February to be precise) with temperatures falling into the mid to upper 20s by early Tuesday morning. (See below for a little "Weather 201" on that cold airmass.) That will make it hard to warm a lot on Tuesday, with sunshine only pushing the high temps into the mid 40s. Another hard freeze Wednesday morning (upper 20s) before temperatures get closer to normal again on Wednesday with highs in the lower 50s and dry weather.

This plot is called a "backwards trajectory" and shows where air originated and where it ends up at a certain place/time. In this case, the low-level air over central Canada this (Saturday) morning will move south and be over Memphis Tuesday morning when our temperatures are in the 20s! Where the airmass originates can tell us a lot about the character of that air, even though it will be modified somewhat by the time it gets here. (NOAA/ARL)

Unsettled late week

The next series of atmospheric disturbances move through Thursday into the first weekend of December. The first of these appears weak and models are having issues latching on to how the end of the week and weekend play out. However, rain chances are back in the forecast Thursday, maybe Friday and maybe Saturday. Temperatures will continue to be cold with lows in the mid 30s and highs in the upper 40s. It's way too early to determine if any more s**w chances will be needed, but we'll keep an eye on things and report more when able. 

In a nutshell, December starts out very cold, which means you need to move any sensitive outdoor plants inside, probably winterize the outdoor faucets in the next 24 hours, and make sure that outdoor pets have a place to stay warm and plenty of food and water (not ice). The cool-ish trend looks like it might continue into the second week of December as well!

The week two temperature outlook from the Climate Prediction Center indicates a chance that cooler than average weather continues from December 5-11. (NWS)

Stay warm and well, friends!

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

Friday, November 20, 2020

November warmth continues this weekend, but how does Thanksgiving look?

Gorgeous fall weather has been with us much of this week as temperatures have been above average for a few days with dry conditions since Sunday morning's frontal system and brief downpours. As we look towards Thanksgiving and the remaining days of November, can we expect the unseasonably warm weather to continue? And what about rain chances for the holiday?

This weekend

Out next frontal system is still about 48 hours away, but clouds will begin to move in ahead of it tonight into Saturday, shielding the sunshine we've enjoyed this week. However, warmer and moister air will continue to filter in on a southerly breeze, so expect mild overnight conditions tonight with lows in the 50s and warm weather for Saturday with highs near 70 once again. If you are one of the lucky ones with tickets to the Tigers football game Saturday afternoon, here's your Senior Day forecast:

By Sunday, the front moves through and rain chances increase. We'll see scattered showers during the day. Models are still honing in on most likely timing, but it appears best rain chances may be in the morning to early afternoon hours. By late afternoon and evening, we should be dry, but a north wind will make for good weather for the fire pit! After morning lows in the mid 50s, we'll top out in the low 60s before temperatures fall in the afternoon. Rain chances are in the 50-60% range but could climb a bit more as we draw closer. No major deluges are expected with totals in the quarter-inch range.

An early look at what radar might look like from Saturday night at midnight through 6pm Sunday, based on the NAM3 model. Scattered showers are the most likely form of precipitation, ending by mid afternoon. (WxBell)

Early Thanksgiving week

Once the front clears out Sunday evening, we'll be looking at a mix of sun and clouds to start next week with much cooler air in place. Morning lows Monday will be in the lower 40s and highs only in the mid 50s, a bit below average for this time of year. Tuesday will see a return of some warmer air as the weather pattern becomes more progressive and the next system moves our way Tuesday night. Mostly dry though during the daytime hours Tuesday with highs back into the 60s.  Rain appears likely from a more potent and wetter system Tuesday night into Wednesday. A few thunderstorms are even possible and rainfall will be heavier at times than Sunday, but it should move out by the back half of Wednesday. Temperatures will be similar to Tuesday.

An early look at mid-week precipitation totals from the European model. An inch or more is possible in the Memphis metro. (WxBell)

Thanksgiving forecast

If you are hoping (and planning) to spend time outdoors for Thanksgiving, conditions at this time appear to be fairly good with slightly above average temperatures continuing for Turkey Day and into the following weekend (mid 60s for afternoon highs, upper 40s for early morning lows). Dry weather looks to be on tap with the next frontal system not expected until at least Friday and possibly Saturday. I think it is safe to make your plans accordingly, but keep an eye on the MWN Forecast and our social media feeds (linked below) in case the mid-week system slows down or the late week front speeds up!

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

Saturday, November 7, 2020

A pleasant weekend, then cooler with possible rain chances next week

Weekend weather

Above normal temperatures will continue over the weekend with highs in the mid to upper 70's, which is roughly 10 degrees above normal.  Lows will be in the low 60's, which is about 15 degrees above normal.  The reason behind all these warm temperatures is the ridge of high pressure that is to our northeast over Virginia, which is allowing warm southerly/southeasterly winds to spread over the area.  This setup will continue into the start of the work week.  It will be a warm with a good deal of sunshine, perfect for going outside, even as we move deeper into November.

Mid-week cold front

By Tuesday afternoon, a cold front that is currently over the wester U.S. will begin to move thru the area, with scattered rain chances as it moves through.  This front will be moving into an area of rather strong high pressure, and this has a tendency to suppress precipitation.  The best chances of rain appear to be Tuesday night and even then only 30-40%. Behind this front on Wednesday, we'll see cooler temperatures, but still highs in the upper 60's and lows in the lower 50's, which is near normal.  

The surface map for early Saturday morning shows a front in the western U.S. that will move through the Mid-South Tuesday night. (NWS)

Temperatures would normally be much cooler behind a November front, but because this one originates in the Pacific and not Canada, the airmass behind it is not as chilly. In addition to the slightly cooler temperatures, we'll also see a return of northerly winds.  These near-average temperatures will continue through the end of the week.

Next weekend - colder air?

Additional precipitation chances will increase towards next weekend with another cold front that is currently near Alaska.  Timing right now is a bit different between models, but the timing of this should become more accurate after the front moves onshore Monday in western Canada.

One other thing we are watching is Tropical Depression Eta, which is currently in the central Caribbean Sea headed towards the Cayman Islands.  Eta will move northeast over Cuba this weekend, into the Florida Straits on Monday, then into the eastern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday.  Eta looks to remain a tropical storm, but should make landfall sometime late next week, likely around the Florida panhandle.  The current track of this storm keeps any rainfall well east of our area, but any shift to the west could bring us some rain next weekend.  We will continue to watch the progress of Eta and update the forecast accordingly.

The National Hurricane Center's forecast track for Eta as of Saturday morning.(NOAA/NHC)

Get out there this weekend and enjoy the sunshine, warm temps and dry weather!  It may be the last one of the year!

Richard Hoseney
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