Sunday, February 25, 2024

Spring is arriving! Is severe weather far behind?

Leave it to Mr. Groundhog to get one right once in a while, despite the long-term track record. (A broken clock is still right twice a day!)

The month of February has, despite a couple a short-lived cold spells, been much warmer than average overall. Through Saturday, only five days this month have been colder than average. With highs in the 70s the next few days, there is a strong possibility that this month ends in the top 10 warmest Februarys on record, after last year also finished top 10 warmest. 

Warmest Januarys on record. 2024 is 12th on the list with 5 days remaining in the month. (xmACIS)

Accompanying the 70s will be strong southerly wind that has gusted to 30+ mph today and could reach 40 mph by Tuesday ahead of the next cold front that will approach the area Tuesday night. Until then, mainly dry and very warm conditions are expected to start the work week with a mix of sun and clouds. One potential rain chance will be late Monday night, likely gone by sunrise Tuesday, as a surge of moisture moves into the region. A stray thunderstorm is possible early Tuesday. Tuesday will be the warmest day of the week. With a bit of sunshine, highs could soar into the upper 70s (the record for the day is 80). 

Probability of 40 mph wind gusts on Tuesday. (NWS)

We've been watching this coming Wednesday the past few days for the potential for severe weather. On Thursday, a day 7 severe weather risk included Memphis for this coming Wednesday. Since then, models have started to back off the severe potential a bit. 

The severe weather outlook for Tuesday and Tuesday night shows the best chance of severe weather north of the area. At this time, no severe weather area is outlined Wednesday. (NWS/SPC)

It now appears that the cold front will arrive around sunrise Wednesday morning with the low pressure dragging it through well north of the region in the Midwest. 

The forecast weather map valid at 6am Wednesday shows a strong cold front on our doorstep. (NWS/WPC)

This scenario results in much less instability (storm fuel) due to the front arriving during the coolest part of the day, and also less lift and cold air aloft associated with low pressure that will miss the region by hundreds of miles. The one factor to still watch is wind energy, as wind will be strong from the surface into the upper atmosphere. Even a defined line of showers and some thunder could bring strong wind gusts. Continue to monitor our social media feeds this week for the latest!

The European model forecast temperatures at 6am Wednesday. Expect a "backwards" temperature day with highs at sunrise and north wind blowing cold air into the 40s by afternoon! (WeatherBell)

Once the front clears the area and rain chances drop off by midday Wednesday, temperatures also plummet Wednesday afternoon, likely falling into the 40s after starting the day in the 60s. Mostly dry weather is expected for the last day of the month on Thursday with the sixth day of below average temperatures possible. Moderating temperatures are expected as we head into early March to end the week with low rain chances that are hard to define at this point.

Looking beyond that, early March appears to favor the continuation of above average temperatures, along with wetter than average conditions, as shown below (March 4-10 temperature and precipitation outlooks).



Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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Complete MWN Forecast: MemphisWeather.net 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

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Recap of this past weekend and a look at a warmer week ahead

Good Sunday evening! 

Hope you are holding out well after Friday's cold front, which ushered in another taste of winter before we transition into warmer temperatures this week. In this blog, we'll be recapping this past interesting weekend and then summarize what to expect for the upcoming week (spoiler: a nice, warmer trend is in store this week, with only one rainy day!). 

Winter returned this weekend

On Friday, a strong cold front made its way into the Mid-South, destabilizing the air and bringing a few showers and thunderstorms to the Memphis metro late Friday afternoon and evening. Severe t'storms were warned in different places across the Mid-South, but, luckily, the metro did not have much to worry about on Friday, as storms remained below severe thresholds. Mainly, strong gusts and locally heavy rain were the primary impacts on Friday for the metro. 

(Radar loop at 5:45pm on Friday, 2/16) Showers and t'storms, moving along with the passing cold front, livened up Friday evening. 

Not every place received a lot of rainfall, as evidenced by the airport and MWN stations recording less than 0.03" of rainfall each. The heaviest rainfall in the metro occurred over north MS, due to the the front finding additional atmospheric moisture and instability. Everyone, though, immediately felt the effects of the strong cold front -- temps rapidly declined into the upper 30s by Friday night. The upper 30s happened to be the highs for Saturday as well, making it the coldest day of the month to this point! A brisk wind didn't help matters, either. 
The 24-hr temperature change map valid at 1:30pm Saturday, 2/17, showcases just how drastic the temperature difference was between Friday and Saturday afternoons. About 30° colder! (WeatherBell)

Today, at the very least, has had highs about 10 degrees warmer than Saturday's. The sunshine helped too, but highs were still below what is expected for late winter. All in all, the front certainly brought a temporary return to winter temperatures. Thankfully, we expect Saturday to be the coldest day of the month, since we'll be trending warmer this upcoming week, a trend that looks to continue into the last week of the month as well.

A mostly dry and warm week ahead

In contrast to this past weekend, this week will be characterized by warmer weather and dry conditions. The main exception to dry weather will be Thursday, which will be outlined shortly. Prominent high-pressure defines Sunday and most of the early week; due to the system, dry weather persists tonight and through Wednesday. 

High pressure over the south will be influencing the early week weather, bringing warmer and drier conditions. (NWS/WPC)

Highs return to near-normal levels on Monday (upper 50s), while Tuesday and Wednesday will continue warming up into the 60s. We still keep highs in the 60s on Thursday, but a well-defined low-pressure system leads to unsettled air that day. Scattered showers and a t'storm or two are likely during the Thursday daytime hours and into the early night. Timing is likely to be adjusted as the week progresses. 

A low-pressure system will make its way across the central U.S., leading to increased chances for rainfall on Thursday. (NWS/WPC)

A calmer weekend (finally!)

Remember the last time we had a normal and dry weekend? It has been a while, but, thankfully, we can look forward to a calmer upcoming weekend. Models suggest clearer skies and dry conditions for the weekend, as highs trend toward the average mid-50s for most of the weekend after Thursday's system passes. We'll be looking forward to the upcoming weekend, but until then, check back for updated forecasts, and thanks for reading!

Per the Euro model, Friday's highs are trending to be in the mid-50s for the metro. (WxBell)

Lei Naidoo
MWN Intern

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Follow MWN on Facebook and Twitter for routine updates and the latest info!
Complete MWN Forecast: MemphisWeather.net 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

Sunday, February 4, 2024

January 2024 Climate Report for Memphis, TN

January Climate Recap

The month of January was colder than normal as a whole due to widespread snow cover around mid-month. The year started out with high temperatures in the mid to upper 40's, climbing to the low 50's by the 7th and to the 60's on the 11th. It all went downhill afterwards, with snow moving in on the 14th. The resulting snowpack caused temperatures to fall drastically, with highs in the teens and lows in the single digits. Record cold low temperatures were set on the 15th and 16th, breaking records from 1888 and 1927 respectively. Highs rose back above freezing on the 17th & 18th before falling back below freezing for a couple more days. A rapid warm-up resulted in temperatures back in the low 60s by the 24th for a couple of days. A bit of a cool-down followed a cold front on the 26th before highs reached back into the 60s by the end of the month. In sum, 20 of the 31 days in January featured temperatures that were at or below average and only three times since the year 2000 has January been colder.

Departure from normal temperatures for January for the Lower 48 states

Above normal precipitation was recorded for the month with the wettest 24-hour period starting on the 8th, when over 1.75" of rain fell. Of course, the mid-month snowfall was the biggest story, with the entire metro receiving multiple inches of snow from a storm on the 14th-15th. Memphis International Airport officially recorded 3.4", while at MWN Headquarters in Bartlett 5.6" fell. The snowpack lingered for several days, finally disappearing by the 22nd when rain melted and washed away what remained. The rain continued until the 27th, with over 3" falling. Over one inch of rain on both the 23rd and 27th. Dry conditions finally moved back in to finish out the month. For more on the snow event, see our winter storm wrap-up post.

Estimated snowfall accumulation across the Mid-South on January 14-15, 2024 (NWS Memphis)

As far as the drought goes, there was improvement across the metro thanks to a wet month and snowpack for several days. Portions of Northwest Mississippi were still in exceptional drought conditions, while Shelby County improved to moderate drought conditions. Below images show the conditions as of January 30th and December 26th.

Drought conditions as of January 30, 2024

Drought conditions as of December 26, 2023

Memphis International Airport, Memphis, TN

Temperature 
Average temperature: 37.6 degrees (4.5 degrees below average) 
Average high temperature: 45.7 degrees (5.4 degrees below average) 
Average low temperature: 29.5 degrees (3.8 degrees below average) 
Warmest temperature: 66 degrees (11th) 
Coolest temperature: 2 degrees (17th) 
Heating Degrees Days: 841 (131 above average)
Cooling Degree Days: 0 (1 below average) 
Records set or tied: Record low maximum of 14 degrees (15th), record low maximum of 16 degrees (16th)
Comments: None

Precipitation 
Monthly total: 6.63" (2.49" above average) 
Days with measurable precipitation: 14 (4 days above average) 
Wettest 24-hour period: 1.76" (8th-9th) 
Snowfall: 3.4" (2.2" above average)
Records set or tied: Record daily snowfall of 1.8 inches (14th)
Comments: None

Miscellaneous 
Peak wind: Southwest/49 mph (9th) 
Average wind: 8.2 mph 
Average relative humidity: 72%
Average sky cover: 60%

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

MemphisWeather.net Headquarters, Bartlett, TN

Temperature 
Average temperature: 36.2 degrees 
Average high temperature: 44.5 degrees 
Average low temperature:  27.0 degrees 
Warmest temperature: 64.5 degrees (30th) 
Coolest temperature: -1.2 degrees (17th) 
Comments: None

Precipitation 
Monthly total: 7.45" (automated rain gauge), 7.53" (CoCoRaHS rain gauge) 
Days with measurable precipitation: 12
Wettest date: 1.72" (8th) (via automated gauge) 
Snowfall: 5.6" (4.3" on 15th, 1.3" on 16th)
Comments: Snow depth of 5.5" measured on 16th, 3" still remaining on 20th

Miscellaneous 
Peak wind: Southeast/36 mph (12th)
Average relative humidity: 78% 
Average barometric pressure: 30.14 in.
Comments: None

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

MWN Forecast Accuracy

Average temperature error: 2.24 degrees 
Forecast temperatures within 2 degrees of actual: 64% 
Average dewpoint error: 2.20 degrees 
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.

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

A rainy Sunday, then a dry pattern before active weather returns late week

Happy wet Sunday!

Last week proved to be a nice change of pace with average to above normal temperatures and drier weather, which was especially welcome after the mid-to-late active January weeks! The beginning of this week appears to be a similar, calmer story despite what last night and today would suggest. A frontal boundary will move out of the area overnight to make way for a dry early start to the week. Prominent ridging will define the calmer weather for the beginning of the week before an advancing cold front later this week brings returning rain chances. 

Concluding a rainy Sunday

Since last night, an inch to inch and a half of rain has fallen, which brought more relief to the drought situation that the metro is currently under. Another quarter inch or so is possible today. The aforementioned frontal boundary moves out overnight, dropping rain chances in time for the start of the work week. We'll see light rain showers eventually become more scattered in coverage this evening before both cloud cover and rain chances decrease overnight. 

Rain chances decrease for most of the metro overnight on Sunday as a stalled frontal boundary moves out. Surface weather map valid at midnight tonight. (NWS/WPC)

Drier weather for the early week

By sunrise on Monday, we'll be dry and ready for work! And it will be a seasonably mild, mostly sunny work day at that. A shifting ridge will usher in calmer and drier weather for Monday, with highs trending just a bit warmer than Sunday at the mid-50s. Similar weather is expected on Tuesday thanks to the ridge as highs remain in the mid-50s, though skies will be nice and sunny along a north wind. If you prefer warmer highs than that, gradual warming is expected for Wednesday as highs reach the lower 60s. High clouds move in along a south wind on Wednesday, as well. Still, despite the highs, morning lows each day for the early week will certainly feel winter-like as we'll start each day in the 30s and 40s. Regardless, the high pressure ridge will bring a few nice and pleasant days for the beginning half of the week! 

It won't be spring just yet, though!

Rain returns in the late week

A more active latter half of the week is shaping up as a broad surface trough brings in moisture and faster winds. Highs will be pleasant (in the 60s) for Thursday and Friday, but rain chances will be increasing as moisture increases late Thursday. Clouds thicken on Thursday ahead of a cold front, which will lead to some showers Thursday evening before becoming widespread early on Friday. 

On Friday morning, showers ahead of a cold front will lead to a wet early day. (NWS/WPC)

As of now, it appears that these showers may last through midday on Friday, but there is still some uncertainty with that. It hinges on the cold front's speed, which seems that it may slow down and stall over the river into Saturday morning and lead to a few showers that morning as well. Early signs also point to that front finally getting pushed out late in the weekend with rain appearing likely on Sunday. In any case, expect an unsettled end of the week and weekend! As forecasts and models are updated, we'll have more info on this system as the week progresses. Totals look to be 1.5 to 2" by the end of the week, as seen in the graphic below.

From NOAA, rainfall totals this week range from 1.5 to 2 inches for the metro. This includes Sunday's rainfall along with the latter week's showers. (NWS/WPC)

Looking at a drier Valentine's week

Though we have an upcoming "half-and-half" week of sorts (half dry, half wet), outlooks for the following week look to be seasonable temperature-wise and dry! This should make for a nice Valentine's day, if outlooks prove to be accurate. See below for the precipitation probability outlook for the following week. Remember to stay up-to-date on the forecasts for this week, and thanks for reading!

The precipitation probability outlook for the week of February 11th to February 18th shows a strong likelihood of below-average precipitation for the metro. (NOAA/CPC)

Lei Naidoo
MWN Intern

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Follow MWN on Facebook and Twitter for routine updates and the latest info!
Complete MWN Forecast: MemphisWeather.net on the mobile web or via the MWN mobile app
Download our iPhone or Android apps, featuring StormWatch+ severe weather alerts!
MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Sunday, January 21, 2024

After a winter week, looking ahead at a milder, but wet week

Happy cold, but optimistic Sunday!

After a wintry week with snow, ice, and re-freezing roads, we're looking ahead at a sort-of "recovery" week on both the road and drought aspects. We've had a cold start today, but we're still on an upward path toward milder temperatures. Along that path, though, will be a very wet week.

A cold Sunday and then gradual warming early/mid week

After a(nother) #StupidCold day yesterday, today continues the trend of cold weather, but our highs stay above freezing and a ridge of high pressure keeping partly sunny skies in the area will help to improve neighborhood roads that have been struggling the past week. Sadly, lows tonight will be low enough to re-freeze areas that are wet and melted. But this leads into Monday's discussion. Southeasterly flow from the Gulf will bring in slightly warmer temps and moisture, which will lead to a few afternoon showers and a rainy night tomorrow. This will do a lot to help melt those roads that are still icy. 

Surface map for Monday at 6pm, with arrows showcasing southeasterly flow and the chance for PM showers. (NWS/WPC)

For those with concerns about freezing rain, by the time showers move to our area tomorrow, we'll be warm enough to not worry about that possibility. By Monday night, most roads should be washed out and ice-less as lows will be in the 40s and showers persist. Similar wet weather is expected for Tuesday and Wednesday with sporadic showers, but temperatures will be gradually warming each day as we return to near-normal levels (highs in the low 50s for Tuesday and near 60° for Wednesday!). The occasional thunderstorm is possible towards mid-week as upper-level disturbances bring more wet weather, but we'll be well below severe thresholds for the week. 

A continued wet pattern with some cooling for the late week

A cold front pushes through Wednesday night which will bring more scattered showers that night and Thursday. The front will lead into a gradual cooling pattern as we dip from highs near 60° on Thursday to lower highs in the 50s on Friday and Saturday. A few showers are possible on Friday, but these will not be as widespread as earlier in the week. Saturday also looks to be rainy and mild as the cold front stalls to our east. 
As the cold front stalls to our east, temps will be near-normal again towards the end of the week. Shown are Friday morning temperatures from the European ensemble. (WeatherBell) 

Thankfully, none of the rainy days this week will involve winter weather! We'll be on break this week in that regard, since temperatures will be in the 50s and near 60° for the middle part of the week and latter half. 

Flash flooding potential and looking at a dry February beginning

Now, due to each day this week featuring a fair bit of rainfall, flash flooding is the primary concern for this week. Totals by the end of the week could accumulate to 3 to 5 inches. 

From NOAA, rainfall totals for this week range from 3 to 5 inches for the metro. 

Flash flooding concerns will mainly be confined to localized, low-lying areas for us. Regardless, always remember to turn around if you see standing water, and don't drown! 

On a different note, unlike this week and the last, the beginning of February looks to be drier and warmer than average! It looks to be a nice break after this upcoming rainy week and the wintry MLK week. See below for the precipitation probability outlook. As forecasts are updated for the following week, stay tuned, and thanks for reading! 

Precipitation outlook for the end of January and beginning of February, showing odds of drier than normal weather for areas along and east of the Mississippi River. (NOAA/CPC)

Lei Naidoo
MWN Intern

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Follow MWN on Facebook and Twitter for routine updates and the latest info!
Complete MWN Forecast: MemphisWeather.net on the mobile web or via the MWN mobile app
Download our iPhone or Android apps, featuring StormWatch+ severe weather alerts!
MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Saturday, January 20, 2024

2023 Yearly Climate Review for Memphis, TN

Climate Recap

2023 will go into the history books as the fourth warmest year on record in Memphis with near average precipitation for the year. However, those overall statistics do now tell the entire story, particularly with respect to precipitation. Below is a summary of monthly temperature and precipitation data. On average, spring and summer were near to cooler than average. However, the cool season from fall to winter was much warmer than average. This resulted in an overall annual departure from normal of +1.7 degrees. There were 16 warm weather records set in 2023 and no cool temperature records.

On the precipitation side, with the exception of a dry May, precipitation ran above to well above average. The back half of the year, though, saw that surplus disappear, resulting in severe to extreme fall and early winter drought across the metro, and exceptional drought in north MS. In 2023, NWS-Memphis issued 372 Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, 83 Tornado Warnings, and 54 Flash Flood Warnings for their 5-county coverage area over the Mid-South. 


Precipitation accumulation graphic for 2023, showing total accumulation (green) versus average. (NOAA Regional Climate Centers)


Drought conditions as of December 26, 2023


Memphis International Airport, Memphis, TN

Temperature 
Average temperature: 65.1 degrees (1.7 degrees above average) 
Average high temperature: 74.5 degrees (1.5 degrees above average) 
Average low temperature: 55.8 degrees (2.0 degrees above average) 
Warmest temperature: 102 degrees (August 25-26) 
Days that reached 100 degrees for a high: 3
Coolest temperature: 25 degrees (January 31, February 1, March 19-20) 
Days that dropped below 25 degrees for a low: 0
Heating Degrees Days: 2250 (625 below average)
Cooling Degree Days: 2426 (112 above average) 
Records set or tiedRecord highs: Feb. 22 (77), April 4 (87 - tied), August 24 (100), August 25 (102), October 24 (86), November 6 (81), November 7 (83), November 8 (84).
Record warm lows: April 4 (68 - tied), June 29 (81 - tied), July 1 (81), August 22 (80 - tied), August 23 (81), August 25 (80), August 26 (80), October 24 (69). No low temperature records were set in 2023.
Comments: January was the 11th warmest on record. February was the 9th warmest on average. December was the 16th warmest on record. December 2022-February 2023 (meteorological winter) was the 7th warmest on record (48.2 degrees). The period September 1-December 31 was the 6th warmest on record. The year 2023 was the 4th warmest on record.

Precipitation 
Yearly total: 55.48" (0.54" below average) 
Days with measurable precipitation: 113 (1.6 days above average) 
Wettest Day: 4.53" (July 21)
Snowfall: 0.2" (2.25" below average)
Records set or tied: June 16 (1.75"), July 21 (4.53").
Comments: January was the 14th wettest on record. March was the 19th wettest on record. July was the 4th wettest on record. The period September 1-December 31 was the 13th driest on record.

Miscellaneous 
Peak wind: Northwest/69 mph (July 5) 
Average wind: 7.5 mph 
Average relative humidity: 67%
Average sky cover: 52%

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

MemphisWeather.net Headquarters, Bartlett, TN

Temperature 
Average temperature: 62.9 degrees 
Average high temperature: 74.6 degrees 
Average low temperature: 53.2 degrees 
Warmest temperature: 99.9 degrees (July 1) 
Days that reached 100 degrees (rounded) for a high: 4
Coolest temperature: 22.4 degrees (December 19) 
Comments: None

Precipitation 
Yearly total: 60.34" (automated rain gauge), 58.92" (CoCoRaHS rain gauge) 
Days with measurable precipitation: 118
Wettest date: 3.78" (January 3) 
Snowfall: 0.3"
Comments: None

Miscellaneous 
Peak wind: Northwest/47 mph (June 2nd)
Average relative humidity: 73% 
Average barometric pressure: 30.03 in.
Comments: None

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

MWN Forecast Accuracy

Average temperature error: 2.06 degrees 
Forecast temperatures within 2 degrees of actual: 67% 
Average dewpoint error: 2.23 degrees 
Forecast dewpoints within 2 degrees of actual: 66% 

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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Follow MWN on Facebook and Twitter for routine updates and the latest info!
Complete MWN Forecast: MemphisWeather.net on the mobile web or via the MWN mobile app
Download our iPhone or Android apps, featuring StormWatch+ severe weather alerts!
MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Winter storm wrap-up, colder than #StupidCold, and one more shot at winter precip

Quick blog this evening... 

We made it through the MLK winter storm with a pretty solid 4-6" thick blanket over the area (some more, some less). The sunshine returned today and started to work its magic on the major streets, but those side streets are still a mess. Fortunately not a sheet of ice, so it could be a lot worse! I found traction to be decent if you don't go too fast!

Estimated and preliminary snowfall totals from this week's storm. Click here for a full list of reports. (NWS-Memphis)

Overnight, temperatures drop WAY into the single digits, and with a very light breeze, wind chills will be below zero. This is #BrutalCold territory and all precautions should be taken, including dripping faucets on exterior walls, wrapping pipes that are subject to freeze, and leaving those cabinet doors open to allow heat around the pipes.


But don't go overboard with the power consumption! MLGW is asking everyone to conserve, as tomorrow morning will likely set a wintertime record for energy use and they don't want to resort to brown-outs or black-outs. If you can throw an extra blanket on and drop the thermostat a degree or two, every little bit helps.

Looking ahead, more sunshine on Wednesday, and "warmer" temperatures nearing the freezing point should really help with snowmelt. It's won't clear a side street with 6" of snow on it, but it will make a lot of areas much more manageable. (There was melting going on today with temps in the mid teens, as long as the area had direct sun exposure.)

After Wednesday though, the melting might hit the pause button just for a bit as another round of very light precipitation moves in Thursday. Temperatures will be below freezing until probably at least lunchtime, and honestly may not get much above that in the afternoon. That means we're expecting a light glaze of ice on Thursday. This won't be enough to bring down tree branches and power lines (so power loss due to those causes is not expected), but it could be enough to slicken up still-contaminated roadways and maybe some bridges and overpasses. All told, it should be less than one-tenth of an inch, but a cold bridge doesn't need much help to become slippery! We'll have more details on this event, including temperature trends, which are the biggest unknown right now, on our social media feeds leading up to Thursday.

The NAM3 model forecast radar for 8am-8pm Thursday, showing light freezing rain, then rain, move through the metro. This is still early for details, but it gives you an idea what to expect. (WeatherBell)

As we head into the weekend (seems like we've been on one for days now...), the front that brings the light icing also brings one more shot of Arctic air. Sunshine will be prevalent, but temps drop back to the 20s Friday, near 10 degrees Saturday morning and just above 20 on Saturday, before finally rebounding from the teens Sunday morning back above freezing Sunday afternoon. And then there is next week - 50s to 60 degrees for highs as #StupidCold finally gets kicked to the curb!

Outlook for temperatures (versus normal) for next week (January 22-26). By then, we may all be done with sub-freezing temperatures! (NOAA/CPC)

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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Follow MWN on Facebook and Twitter for routine updates and the latest info!
Complete MWN Forecast: MemphisWeather.net on the mobile web or via the MWN mobile app
Download our iPhone or Android apps, featuring StormWatch+ severe weather alerts!
MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

Saturday, January 13, 2024

MLK Day Winter Storm Q&A (with lots of pictures and GIFS)

I've written many a blog post ahead of winter storms over the years. The format that seems to work best is Q&A style, because I know you have questions. So herein I will try and provide answers - some to the point, some with more detail. Keep in mind this is AS OF SATURDAY MORNING. The forecast can (and probably will) change, or at least be refined. Buckle up!

Q: Is it really gonna snow?
A: Yes, really.



Q: When will it start and end?
A: Timing has been a chief concern for the past few days. Models have struggled. But they are getting better and I have higher confidence now. A Winter Storm Warning is in effect from Sunday at noon through Tuesday at 6am. I believe we could see some flurries (or maybe freezing drizzle) by late afternoon Sunday. By early to mid evening, snow becomes likely and continues much of the night and into Monday. I would expect it to taper off by mid-afternoon Monday, but flurries or light snow could linger through the evening. We're looking at 18- 24 hours of precipitation. 



Q: How much are we going to get?
A: This is the million dollar question and the one everyone cares about. I believe Sunday night's snow will be fairly uniform and light, but still with accumulation potential. On Monday, a band (or bands) of moderate to perhaps heavy snow sets up within an area of lighter snow. This adds complication to the totals because we don't know exactly where that will happen. However, recent data suggests this could be close to or south of I-40. Within that band, there is strong potential for 5-7" of snow. Outside of that sweet spot, I still think 3-4" is going to be the average. So to put an overall range on it, 3-7" is my call as of 11am Saturday. Below is what the NWS has as of right now - we're not too different.



Q: What sort of boom and bust potential is there? 
A: Great question, glad you asked! On the low end, I think everyone in the 8-county MWN coverage area is likely to see at least 2", even if the storm underperforms. If that's all you get, you'll have to just shake it off. On the flip side, there is a low chance somewhere within a heavy band that 8" or more could fall.  



(Warning: science lesson about to break out!) Part of the uncertainty in totals has to do with what we call the "snow to liquid ratio" (SLR), which is how much snow occurs given a certain amount of precipitation in liquid form. Typically, an inch of liquid yields 10" of snow, or a 10:1 ratio. When it is very cold with lower humidity, that ratio goes up. So an inch of liquid may be 15" of snow (15:1). That type of snow is "dry" and doesn't pack well (i.e. no snowball fights and clear it with a leaf blower). I think we'll end up with a drier snow than typical for this area, but not Minneapolis dry. It's still one of the unknowns though. Sorry for the weather nerdy interruption - back to the Q&A.

Q: Any surprises, like rain or ice mixing in?
A: Doubtful. Although, there are hints that very light precipitation at onset late Sunday afternoon could be freezing drizzle. It's not a major concern for me. 

Q: How will the roads be Monday / Tuesday / in February?
A: The cold air that moves over us in the coming week is no joke. It'll be moving beyond #StupidCold to #DangerousCold for some folks. On Monday, I wouldn't recommend travel unless necessary, as we'll be in a Winter Storm Warning and there will be accumulation actively occurring. (Yes, I know the Grizzlies play a big MLK Day game. We don't need fans added to the injury list, tbh.) 


Fortunately, rain doesn't preface this event, so roads will be treated starting today and that will help. But some of those treatments don't work as well when temps get into the mid teens or colder, like they will Monday morning and definitely Tuesday morning. 


As for Tuesday, it's kind of wait and see, but if 3-4" or more falls and traffic is light Monday (likely, due to snow falling and the holiday), Tuesday morning may not be much better. The only thing that might help a little is if the snow is dusty and, with some wind blowing, main streets might fare a bit better. A hard freeze Monday night with no traffic will likely mean a dicey Tuesday morning though. Sunshine on Tuesday, despite bitterly cold temperatures could help with primary roads. I think odds are above even that Tuesday is a "snow day" though too. (That one is for you, teachers!) By February, we should be fine. 😉

Q: I have a flight...
A: Are you going to the Bahamas? Make every effort, and add a ticket for me.


So the airport is as equipped as any place to handle winter weather. They have more snow removal equipment than most southern cities and FedEx won't slow down (much). But getting there could be "tough sledding" (see questions above). The best answer is check with your airline. There will probably be cancellations, but not necessarily because the airport is "closed." It won't close. But airlines don't like getting planes stuck or crews unable to fly due to flight rules, so many times they proactively cancel.

Q: How about the #StupidCold this week? 
A: Snow is fun and generally not super dangerous. This cold will NOT be. After today, we likely won't get back above freezing until Thursday afternoon. In the meantime, temperatures will be in the teens to 20s Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We'll drop into the single digits Wednesday morning. Wind chills will be dangerous, even with just a 10-15 mph wind. 

Forecast wind chills Tuesday and Wednesday mornings

Q: Will my pipes burst?
A: If your pipes have had issues when it got brutally cold just before Christmas in 2022 or in mid-February 2021, you might be at risk again. This week will be a "4-P Week." Take care of your people (and others if able), your pets (indoors or a warm place), your pipes, and your plants. Keep the faucets dripping and cabinets open on exterior walls where there are pipes.



Q: How about the electrical grid?
A:  Due to the prolonged cold, and the fact that it will affect a large area in the southeast, energy load will be well above average. I don't have to remind you of Christmas 2022 when the load ended up resulting in many issues. MLGW has already indicated that they are in much better shape than 2022, but that they will request conservation of utilities. Scattered power outages seem possible, although it won't be as bad as if ice were pulling down trees and lines. Heavy snow could cause some issues, as might excessive load. Be prepared just in case and conserve where able.



Q: What's this I am hearing about Thursday? Are we going to do this all over again??
A: I'm not talking about it just yet, other than to say "do it all over again" is not in the cards. A light winter precip event is possible, and the cold will be reinforced for a couple days behind it. Let's get through this one first.

Q: When will it be 70 degrees and sunny again?
A: March. 

Final word: This could be a dangerous storm for many in our community. While we had a little fun with this (and you probably will enjoy it especially if you have kids), please make sure you read closely the safety tips and other advice. Take care of your neighbors and be smart about your choices. Most importantly, prepare for the brutal cold. It'll be a week to ten days of well below average temperatures.

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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