Friday, March 10, 2023

One more round of rain, then an early spring freeze for some

As we sit here on the tenth of March, most are tired of rain. Despite February actually ending a bit below average for precipitation, more than 1 of every 3 days of the month saw rain fall. January recorded more than double the usual rainfall for the month. And for the first third of March, rainfall has reached 75% of the usual amount for the entire month... and the next system this weekend could push us to near 100% of normal before the month is half over! 

We've also gotten used to above average temperatures. December-February (meteorological winter) was the 7th warmest on record, and not a single day in March has been below average, though the past couple have been right at it. Trailing the rain this weekend, a cold snap is also coming. Let's dive in... first a reminder that you lose an hour Sunday morning, but at least the sun remains up past 7pm next week! 

First, more rain, and a few storms

Today is a nice break from the rain the past few days, but it is temporary (so enjoy it!). Temperatures are cool in the 50s, and will be that way tomorrow too. But at least we do have some sunshine between the clouds today. Clouds return early tomorrow and we'll start the day in the upper 30s - the coolest morning in about three weeks! Rain showers return ahead of an approaching cold front by Saturday afternoon. Not a washout, but scattered throughout the afternoon with an isolated thunderstorm also possible. 

The Friday morning run of the high-resolution NAM model forecasts rain to begin Saturday afternoon and continue through mid-morning Sunday, at least. A few storms are also likely in the pre-dawn hours Sunday.  (WeatherBell)

By Saturday night, rain and thunderstorm chances quickly ramp up with the front due in early Sunday morning. A few storms ahead of the front early Sunday morning (pre-dawn, but after midnight) could sport gusty wind and hail, mainly in the Mississippi Delta. The city of Memphis is currently in a level 1 (Marginal) severe weather risk, but a level 2 (Slight) risk is posted just south of the city along the Mississippi River.

Overnight rain transitions to scattered showers Sunday morning into the early afternoon, mainly in north MS. Forecast rainfall is around an inch, a bit more in north MS. Clouds stick around in the afternoon before clearing out late in the day or evening. 

After the rain, prep for a potential late-season freeze

Behind Sunday's front, cold high pressure begins to build into the central and eastern U.S. for the coming week. We'll be on the southern fringes of this Canadian airmass, but it is cold enough that we'll feel its effects for multiple days! 

The Friday morning European model forecast for mid-day Tuesday shows cold high pressure sprawled across the Midwest with an influence all the way to the Gulf Coast. An active pattern continues on the west coast while a Nor'Easter brings snow to the major metros in the Northeast. (WeatherBell)

Sunshine will be abundant to start the week but look for highs to only reach around 50 degrees Monday and Tuesday. Low temperatures Monday through Wednesday mornings will be in the 30s throughout the metro. The potential for damage to early season foliage will be highest Tuesday morning when skies are clear and wind dies down, allowing temperatures to drop below freezing for a few hours outside the city (especially in west TN and northeast AR), and possibly touch freezing inside the city limits. Widespread frost is likely in all but the warmest locations. Wednesday morning could see another freeze mainly east of the city in west TN, but likely frost for all once again. 

The European model ensemble shows the probability of below freezing temperatures on Tuesday morning - near certain for areas surrounding Memphis in all directions except south, and not to be discounted in Memphis proper. (WeatherBell)

As the Canadian high shifts east, temperatures will warm on southerly wind Wednesday afternoon, back to near 60. Of course, with a few days of dry weather, you have to know more rain is not far off! At this time, we're monitoring Thursday night into St. Patrick's Day for the next cold front and rainmaker. Behind this one? NOAA's Climate Prediction Center believes there remains a decent chance of below average temperatures. Perhaps March will be the counterweight to the warmth of the past few months?

The temperature outlook for March 18-24, following the cold front late next week. It is fairly rare to see below average temperatures predicted for nearly all of the CONUS. (Not shown, precipitation is also favored to be slightly above average locally.) (CPC/Pivotal Weather)

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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