Saturday, January 6, 2024

Winter has arrived - very active weather week ahead

December warmth is long gone now and Mother Nature is reminding us it is indeed the season of winter. We're also going to start making a dent in the rainfall deficit of the past few months in the coming week or so. I sent the post below on social media yesterday; it's what we in meteorology call a "progressive pattern" (nothing to do with politics).


Weekend chill

Last night, the first in a series of low pressure systems to affect the region moved by to our south. We got about half an inch of rainfall late afternoon into the overnight. Today, we're left with a cold, clammy, damp but not precipitating, gray winter day. Temperatures will struggle to reach the mid 40s this afternoon with a westerly breeze. Sprinkles are possible this evening, but then it appears the sun will return by midday tomorrow. That will help reduce the chill a bit, though we still likely won't hit 50 degrees on Sunday, which is the average high for this time of year. At least most of the weekend is dry.

Early week rain and thunderstorms

The next in the series of low pressure centers moves through Monday night into early Tuesday. Rain develops ahead of that weather-maker late Monday afternoon. A very wet Monday night is expected as wind picks up. Even a few thunderstorms are possible from this dynamic system! While not expected here, severe storms are likely to our south, along the Gulf Coast and north into central MS, as high wind and a few tornadoes are possible. We'll get 1-2" of rain as showers continue through Tuesday. 

The NBM model forecast for rainfall amounts from our early week weather system. (WeatherBell)

The biggest impact from this system though, apart from the heavy rain, will be the wind. Gusts Monday night will approach 30-35 mph and could reach 40 mph on Tuesday! If you do not yet have your outdoor holiday decor down, this weekend is the time! Temperatures on Monday and Tuesday will reach the low 50s. No threat for winter weather with this system.

NWS forecast probabilities of seeing wind gusts of 40 mph on Tuesday.

Mid-week lull

As wind calms down a bit heading into mid-week, we should be set for a couple of nice days. Sunshine returns Wednesday, though it will be cool and still a little breezy. Look for lows in the upper 20s and highs in the upper half of the 40s. Thursday we can expect high clouds to start moving in ahead of the next wave of weather, but the day should be dry with temperatures rebounding into the mid 50s.

Another wet wind-maker, then Arctic blast

Yet another strong low pressure system will affect the region starting Thursday night and continuing through Friday. This one will pass by to our west, putting the Mid-South in a "warm sector" airmass on Friday. Expect additional rain, some of it heavy, possibly with a few thunderstorms, and strong southerly wind gusts which could once again easily top 30-35 mph on Friday. Looks like another bad day to have car line duty, teachers! There are still details to work out on the track of that system, but there is some model data suggesting we should watch Friday night pretty closely for the timing of departing moisture and arriving cold air.

After Friday's system, a large Arctic high pressure system that dives through the Plains midweek reaches the Mid-South in time for next weekend. After Friday night, we should be dry, but it likely won't be a weekend you want to spend outdoors. We could be entering #StupidCold territory. High temperatures will probably not get out of the 30s, while overnight lows will drop well into the 20s with maybe some teens hanging out in some areas (and I'm not talking about juvenile delinquents!). 

Temperature anomaly (departure from average) map for Sunday, January 14. Nearly the entire country is expected to be colder than average, much of it well below, according to the European model ensemble data. (WeatherBell)

That cold air appears to have staying power, so we'll be watching for any systems that may try to sneak through it, but that would be the week after next, so for now we'll stick to pattern recognition and bet on the coldest air of the season so far. Stay tuned, and dig out those heavy coats!

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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