Thursday, September 10, 2020

Will these hot and dry conditions ever end? Where is fall?

[ Editor's note: Many of you have (rightly) called us out for our outlooks from about a week ago signaling a significant cool down this week that will not occur. We followed the vast majority of the guidance we had access to, including the various mid-range computer models from various agencies and the NWS Climate Prediction Center. All showed a part of the cold blast that affected the Rocky Mountains and parts of the plains seeping into the Mid-South by this time. However, that scenario changed over the weekend and our forecasts reflected that. Subtropical high pressure over the southeast U.S. held firm and kept the cooler air at bay. 

I know it was widely anticipated and you are disappointed after a long summer when the first shot of cold air doesn't materialize. Me too. Forecasting an anomalous (even record-setting for some areas) cold air event this early in the season getting this far south was probably a roll of the dice, but the guidance was fairly unanimous. Our time will come, but early September is a TAD early for that sort of cool wave! Fall has not started - do not lose hope when the game has barely begun! Now on to the week ahead... courtesy of Max: ]

Over the last week conditions have been pretty benign. There hasn't been any rain officially recorded since September 3rd. Besides no precipitation the skies have been full of sun. Due to the overabundance of sun our temperatures have varied in between the mid 80s and lower 90s over the last week. Even though there's been slightly above normal temperatures over the last week it hasn't felt too terrible. This is due to lower dew points, so it's more of a "dry heat" then the tropical heat we're used to in mid-summer. This is not unusual for late summer/early fall.

Friday and this weekend

After we top out a little over 90 on Thursday, overnight lows going into Friday will drop to the lower 70s. Friday during the day it looks like it'll be a little more humid as we top out near 90. Rain is not expected on Friday, but we are expecting partly cloudy skies (so maybe that'll help). As we head into Saturday overnight lows will only drop to the mid 70s. Saturday temperatures will top out near 90 again, under partly sunny skies. Thankfully there is a slight chance of an afternoon/evening shower on Saturday. Overnight lows Saturday into Sunday will drop to the low 70s. Sunday we will will top out in the upper 80s under partly sunny skies. Again there will be a chance of showers and thunderstorms, so hopefully we get some much needed rain. We aren't in a drought right now, but if the heat and dry conditions keep up we could head into a drought in the next few weeks. 

This is the most current drought monitor for TN showing no drought conditions in the MWN coverage area of southwest TN.

This is the most current drought monitor for MS showing no drought for the MWN coverage area of northwest MS.

This upcoming week

The theme for this upcoming week is consistent temperatures, with chances of rain everyday. After we drop into the lower 70s heading into Monday, we will top out in the mid 80s. There is a slight chance of showers and fingers crossed. Heading into Tuesday overnight lows drop to near 70. Tuesday afternoon we should again only top out in the mid 80s. There is a chance of showers and thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon and evening. Heading into Wednesday, morning lows will drop to near 70 again. Wednesday and Thursday will be one in the same with temperatures topping out in the mid 80s. Both Wednesday and Thursday have a chance for scattered showers and thunderstorms. This would bring some much needed rain to the area, so fingers crossed we all see some. 

Whats with all the pretty sunsets and sunrises lately?

So over the last few weeks there have been many fires across the United States. The most devastating of fires have been occurring in the states of Oregon, Washington, and California. Some of the smoke has made it's way towards Memphis, and has been sitting over us for the last few days. When there are more particles in the air (in this case more smoke), this results in scattering. The scattering (mainly red scattering) presents with usually bright red (can be other colors though) sunsets and sunrises.

This is model output from the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR). The model output shows the near surface smoke that is present in the atmosphere. The highest concentrations are along the west coast of the United States where active fires are nearby. The blue you see over Memphis is all it takes for us to get some nice sunsets and sunrises though! 

Max Magness
MWN Meteorologist Intern

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Monday, September 7, 2020

August 2020 Climate Data for Memphis, TN

August Climate Recap

After a July that featured persistent heat - in which every day featured high temperatures of at least 89 degrees and lows were in the 70s every day - September cooled off relative to normal. The signal emerged on the first day of the month with a high of just 79 degrees and the first week of the month averaging five degrees below normal. From there, temperatures warmed above average for week 2 but then cooled for the second half of the month. Overall, the average temperature was 1.3 degrees below normal with several mornings dropping into the upper 60s. 

Precipitation for August, a typically dry month, was a marked departure from a dry July and ended up 12th wettest on record. Multiple systems brought areas of heavy rain, including the remnants of Major Hurricane Laura that made landfall in southwest LA near the end of the month and then re-curved to pass by to our north. Tropical Depression Laura also brought our windiest day of the month with wind gusts into the 30s to mid 40s mph on the 27th-28th. 

Severe weather was nearly negligible during the month of August, with the exception of a few Tornado Warnings spawned by the remnants of Laura on the evening of the 27th in northwest MS. These storms did not produce tornadoes, although there were a few weak tornadoes in northeast AR and far northwest TN from Laura. Scattered tree and power pole damage was observed in Tunica County on the 28th from Laura's remnants. Finally, flash flooding occurred in eastern Tipton County on the early morning of the 30th. Flash Flood Warnings were issued on multiple slow moving storms throughout the month with heavy downpours common.

NWS-Memphis map of tornadoes produced by the remnants of Hurricane Laura. 

Memphis International Airport, Memphis, TN

Average temperature: 80.7 degrees (1.3 degrees below average) 
Average high temperature: 89.6 degrees (1.7 degrees below average) 
Average low temperature: 71.7 degrees (1.0 degrees below average) 
Warmest temperature: 97 degrees (9th, 10th, 11th) 
Coolest temperature: 65 degrees (5th) 
Heating Degrees Days: 0
Cooling Degree Days: 492 (35 below average) 
Records set or tied: None 
Comments: None

Monthly total: 6.47" (3.59" above average) 
Days with measurable precipitation: 13 (6.2 days above average) 
Wettest 24-hour period: 1.93" (13th) 
Snowfall: None 
Records set or tied: None 
Comments: This month was the 12th wettest August on record.

Peak wind: South/46 mph (28th) 
Average wind: 6.7 mph 
Average relative humidity: 69% 
Average sky cover: 50% 

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

Cirrus Weather Solutions /, Bartlett, TN

Average temperature: 77.6 degrees 
Average high temperature: 88.8 degrees 
Average low temperature: 68.8 degrees 
Warmest temperature: 98.4 degrees (10th) 
Coolest temperature: 59.6 degrees (5th) 
Comments: None 

Monthly total: 6.87" (automated rain gauge), 7.45" (manual CoCoRaHS rain gauge) 
Days with measurable precipitation: 12 
Wettest date: 2.06" (28th) (via automated gauge) 
Snowfall: None 
Comments: None 

Peak wind: South/30 mph (28th)
Average relative humidity: 83% 
Average barometric pressure: 29.93 in. Hg
Comments: None

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

MWN Forecast Accuracy

MWN average temperature error: 1.76 degrees 
MWN forecast temperatures within 2 degrees of actual: 74% 
MWN average dewpoint error: 1.72 degrees 
MWN forecast dewpoints within 2 degrees of actual: 80% 

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

Climate Outlook - September 2020

The September climate outlook for the United States from the Climate Prediction Center is shown below. Above average temperatures are again forecast for areas in and west of the Rocky Mountains, as well as the Florida peninsula. Cooler than average temperatures are forecast for the eastern Plains into the Midwest and Ohio Valley and sections of the Mid-South. Odds slightly favor below average temperatures for Memphis (35%) versus only a 32% chance of above average temperatures. Memphis' average temperatures for September is 75.2 degrees.

Precipitation is expected to be above normal in the southeast U.S. with a strong signal for anomalously wet conditions in portions of the south-central Plains east into the middle Mississippi Valley. Drier than average weather is forecast for much of the Great Plains into the western U.S. For Memphis, odds favor above average rainfall (a 52% chance) versus only a 15% chance of below average rainfall. Precipitation historically averages only 3.09 inches in September. 

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

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Welcome to Meteorological Fall! A beautiful Labor Day weekend is just ahead!


We've been feeling a bit like we have been stuck on repeat with highs in the upper 80s to low 90s and muggy conditions, even as we entered "meteorological fall," the September-November period used to compute autumn climate averages. That stays true through early tomorrow but thankfully a dry weak cold front will push through, dropping our dew points! That will lead us right into the holiday weekend with abundant sunshine and comfortable humidity. Thankfully Labor Day looks pleasant with minimal rain chances but as we head into mid week next week, rain and storms return. The best part of the rain returning is the fact that it is associated our first fall-like cold front! This will drop our temperatures below average as well as our humidity! 

Climate Prediction Center's 6-10 Temperature Outlook showing below average temperatures for much of the U.S. [Valid Sept. 9-13] (NOAA/CPC)


We're sitting fairly comfortable this afternoon across the 901! A weak cold front will move through the region Friday morning. This will keep tonight's lows on the warmer side of things in the mid 70s. A few showers will accompany the frontal passage but overall this is a relatively dry front. The front brings a bit of good news to the region too! Friday we will start with a few showers and clouds but throughout the day, skies will clear leaving us with a very pleasant afternoon. While our temperatures won't be drastically lower, with highs still in the low to mid 80s, the humidity will drop all afternoon, thus keeping our heat indices to a minimum!

NAM 3k model showing future reflectivity. Scattered showers are possible in the early overnight. [Valid Thursday 3pm - Friday 3am] (PivotalWeather)

Saturday - Sunday 

As we head into Friday night, all stray showers will be well out of our area leaving us mild and dry! Thankfully we have more of the same throughout the weekend and into early next week! We start off Saturday morning very pleasant and mild with temperatures in the 60s! Saturday will be a great day for any outdoor work that you may need to get done as we'll have abundant sunshine, highs in the upper 80s, and comfortable humidity levels. Soak it in as much as you can, as we don't get to say that a lot here in the Southeast! We have more of the same as we head into Sunday, but temperatures will start to recover a bit. Sunday afternoon will continue with plenty of sunshine but highs will be back near 90. 

Labor Day

If you have Labor Day plans, you are in luck! Our pleasant weekend will bleed over into the holiday! While humidity levels will be slightly higher, they will still be comfortable! The sun will also stick around throughout the afternoon keeping our rain chances near zero. Overall it's shaping up to be a great day for any (socially distant) Labor Day celebrations! As we head into late Monday night, rain chances begin to uptick. Thankfully most of the showers will not reach our neck of the woods until early Tuesday morning. 

Tuesday - Thursday  

Our wet pattern returns Tuesday with scattered showers and partly cloudy skies throughout the afternoon. Thankfully along with these showers comes a bit of exciting news, a cold front! throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, winds will be southerly allowing for warm moist air to move into the region. As the trough digs through the central portion of the US toward the Southeast, showers and storms will spawn across our region. We will likely see off and on rain starting Tuesday morning through Thursday morning, however, it does appear we will get a few breaks during the day. Wednesday looks to be the wettest as the frontal passage will likely occur Wednesday night and into early Thursday. This means that though Wednesday may be a bit of a wash, by Thursday afternoon, drier and cooler air will be here! 
GFS model loop showing future showers and storms ahead of a cold front that will pass early Thursday morning. [Valid Monday at midnight - Thursday at midnight] (PivotalWeather)

Temperature-wise, Tuesday will continue the warm pattern we have seen with temperatures near 90 and high humidity. Into Wednesday, clouds and rain chances will keep our highs in the upper 80s, however, Thursday's high may struggle to hit 80, well below average for this time of year! So for all of those waiting for a reason to be excited for fall, here it is! 

Saying Farewell! 

Like most I hate to say goodbye, but it has come time for me to move on in my career. I have so loved getting to be a part of this wonderful team. Erik has taught me so much and I genuinely wish him, along with the rest of his team, the very best. I will take things I learned from my experiences here with me throughout my career. So thank you to each and every one of one. I can't wait to see what's next! 

Allison Paige 
MWN Meteorologist Intern

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