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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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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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

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

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

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. Headquarters, Bartlett, TN

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

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

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

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
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