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Colder Than Normal Temperatures Return Mid-Month

Figure 1. Latest 6-10 day temperature outlook from the CPC.

Above-average temperatures are going to persist for much of this week.

Highs will range in the 70s through Thursday for the entire Gulf Coast.

However, don’t expect the warmth to last. The pattern across North America is still poised to do a complete 180 on our just after the 15th.

The GEFS and EPS continue to favor predict that a brief + EPO phase will be followed up by a + PNA later this week. This will favor a return to below-average temperatures for most of the nation on or after the 15th.

The latest 6-10 day temperature outlook from the Climate Prediction Center highlights this, showing a high likelihood of below-average temperatures from the 15th – 19th.

While well below normal temperatures (by March standards) are likely again, it won’t get nearly as cold as it did at the start of the month. So don’t expect the 32° F line to make it to the Gulf Coast.

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Severe Weather Update: Strong Tornadoes Possible in North Mississippi, Northwest Alabama

Mississippi is back in a level 3 (enhanced) risk for severe weather after being briefly removed.

First of all, the severe threat has shifted to generally to along/north of I-20 for today. This is because the storm system is tracking a but farther north than we thought it would earlier this week.

Other than that, there have been no changes. Activity has developed along and ahead of the front as expected, and will shift east through this afternoon and evening.

The greatest threat for severe weather will come between 2 PM and 6 PM CST, in the level 3 risk area.

All modes of severe weather will be possible, with tornadoes and damaging winds being the bigger threats.

A few strong tornadoes will be possible this afternoon from North Mississippi/Northwest Alabama to Southeast Missouri, Southern Indiana, and Southwest Kentucky.

 

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Level 3 Severe Weather Risk for North Mississippi Tomorrow

 

Figure 1. Severe weather outlook for Saturday.

A level 3 (enhanced) risk area has been delineated for tomorrow. For Sunday, a level 1 (marginal) risk zone has also been defined.

TOMORROW

There have been no changes to our thinking.

Setup

Model guidance continues to advertise strong shear. However, the extent of destabilization remains questionable. Decreasing shear and lift will limit overall severe threat and coverage overnight/Sunday morning.

Timing

In regard to timing, we anticipate storms convective activity along/ahead of the front tomorrow morning/early afternoon over Northeast Texas, North Louisiana, and Arkansas to spread east throughout the day and into the evening. The aforementioned activity will likely evolve into a squall line at some point.

The severe threat will be highest Saturday afternoon/evening, in the level 3 risk area.

Placement

Level 3 (enhanced): This is where the better parameters, and thus greatest risk for severe weather, will be. All modes of severe weather will be possible. The main threats will be damaging winds and tornadoes.

Figure 1. Predicted SRH values by the GFS for 3 PM CST Saturday. (Pivotal Weather)

Moreover, with high storm relative helicity (SRH) and bulk shear values expected, a strong tornado or two will be a concern with any supercells.

Level 2 (slight): A few strong to severe storms possible. Damaging winds and a tornado or two will be the primary concern.

Level 1 (marginal): An isolated strong to severe storm capable of producing gusty winds and perhaps a tornado or two possible.

 

SUNDAY

The Storm Prediction Center has hatched a level 1 risk for Southeast Mississippi, South Alabama, Florida Panhandle, and a chunk of the Southeast.

We expect the front to stall. This should for scattered thunderstorm activity throughout the day. CAPE is predicted to remain elevated. Consequently, an isolated strong/severe storm can’t be ruled out. The main hazard will be strong wind gusts.

HEAVY RAIN

4 – 6″ of rain is forecast for the lower Mississippi Valley and Tennessee Valley over the next 7 days.

This is not definitely not needed and will lead to additional flooding issues.


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Temperature Roller Coaster: Warming up; Cold Returns by Mid-Month

A warm up is in store for parts of the eastern two-thirds of the nation. This comes after a very cold start to March.

The current pattern across the continental U.S. is currently being driven by a negative phase of the East Pacific Oscillation (EPO). With a – EPO, below-average temperatures typically occur across much of the lower 48.

However, the GEFS and EPS are forecasting a flip to a + EPO this weekend/early next week. With a +  EPO you can expect the exact opposite of a – EPO (above-average temperatures).

With both the GEFS and EPS in agreement, a pattern flip is likely heading into next week. This means the Central and Eastern parts of the country should experience a period of warmer weather/above-average temperatures.

We note that temperatures will start to moderate west of the Appalachians by today. But this will be the result of a storm system rather than the EPO.

More Cold?

It seems like we are on somewhat of a roller coaster with respect to temperatures. Granted, we are now in meteorological spring — and soon to be in astronomical spring — so temperature swings should be expected.

Longer-range model guidance does indicate that below-average temperatures will return right around mid-month.

This seems to be because of a combination of the EPO going back into negative territory and the Pacific North American pattern (PNA) trending positive.

However, it likely won’t be as severe as what we had to being the month.

 

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Update on Weekend Severe Weather Potential

Figure 1. GFS predicted dew points for 12 PM Saturday, depicting warm, humid air getting transported north by a vigorous storm system. (Pivotal Weather)

There has not been much change in our thinking regarding the severe weather threat this weekend.

Setup

Strong to severe storms are going to be possible along/ahead of an east moving front Saturday into Sunday.

Favorable parameters for severe thunderstorm activity continue to be predicted by model guidance Saturday into Saturday evening. However, it does look like CAPE will be lower than initially  and could be a limiting factor.

We should see the severe threat decrease overnight into Sunday. This is because shear is going to drop off and forcing is going to become displaced from the warm sector.

 

Placement

Saturday: The Storm Prediction Center has trimmed the slight (level 2/5) risk area a bit. Additionally, they also defined a marginal (level 1/5) risk zone.

Based on model projections, it appears the greatest chance for severe thunderstorm activity will stretch from the Mississippi Delta to the Tennessee Valley, closer to better forcing. We do note that an enhanced risk area added in subsequent outlooks.

Sunday: The 15% risk area is largely unchanged. It is important to note that this outlook is valid starting at 6 AM Sunday. So it is illustrating the idea of the threat carrying over into the first half of Sunday and not necessarily a separate severe threat. However, it does seem like the front becoming quasi-stationary combined with some lingering could support a continued low-end severe risk.

 

Timing

Activity will initiate in East Texas/West Louisiana by early Saturday afternoon, spreading east into early Sunday.

 

Threats

Damaging winds and tornadoes continue to look like the primary concern. But all modes of severe weather will definitely be possible.

 

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Severe Storms Possible From East Texas into the Southeast This Weekend

A vigorous storm system is still expected to eject out of the Plains over the weekend. Warm, humid air inland will be advected inland ahead of a trailing front, which will destablize the atmosphere. The result will be a renewed risk for severe thunderstorm activity to Dixie Alley and the Southeast.

Convection will likely develop in east Texas by early Saturday afternoon ahead of a front, possibly congealing into a squall line. Then, from Saturday afternoon into the early Sunday, this activity should spread into the Southeast.

Model guidance continues to depict a highly sheared warm sector Saturday afternoon and evening. At least moderate surface-based CAPE values of ~ 500 – 1500 j/kg are still being predicted as well. However, how far inland the higher values get is still uncertain.

Because of the uncertainty in regard to CAPE, and with some other parameters, it is too early to determine the placement of the highest risk for severe storms.

The Storm Prediction Center has maintained the broad 15% risk zone, and added a risk area for Sunday. At this time, it does look like the greatest severe potential could stay north of I-10 during the day Saturday, and west/north of I-65/85 Saturday night, with a lower risk for the Florida Panhandle, North Florida, Georgia, and the Carolina’s Sunday.

With respect to impacts on Saturday, we can now say that damaging winds and tornadoes now appear to be the primary threats.

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Yet Another Severe Weather Threat Looms for Dixie Alley This Weekend

Figure 1. GFS predicted 850 mb height and wind for 18z Saturday, illustrating the strong LLJ over the mid and lower Mississippi Valley. (Pivotal Weather)

A negatively tilted trough is going to lift out of the Plains and into the Great Lakes Saturday into Saturday night. At the same time, a deepening low is expected to bring a trailing front east. Warm and humid Gulf air will inevitably get transported north ahead of the front, destabilizing the atmosphere.

Another round of strong to severe storms is possible. For those keeping count, this would be the third week in a row with a severe threat.

CIPS severe-based analog guidance is indicating an overall 15 – 30% chance of severe weather Saturday.

Additionally, model guidance is advertising strong dynamics with this system. A 50 – 70 kt low-level jet (LLJ) and moderate levels of CAPE (instability) are predicted (see figure 1). However, the northern extent of the higher CAPE values is uncertain.

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has already defined a large 15% (slight) risk area; adjustments are likely as we get closer to Saturday. At this time, all modes of severe weather appear to be on the table.

Looking at Sunday, it is possible that the severe threat could carry over into the Southeast.

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Lee County, AL Tornado Now Preliminarily Rated an EF-4

The Lee County, AL tornado is now being given a preliminary rating of EF-4 by the National Weather Service.

Max sustained winds are estimated to have been 170 mph. The other tornado that tracked into Lee County has been rated and EF-2 (also preliminary).

According to Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the death toll now stands at 23.

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Winter Returns With a Vengeance

Figure 1. Freeze warnings for tonight and tomorrow morning.

Since the passage of yesterday’s front, winter has returned with a vengeance.

Freeze warnings are in effect for both tomorrow morning (see figure 1) and Wednesday morning for a large chunk of the Gulf Coast states.

There is a hard freeze warning for portions of southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana tonight too. A freeze watch is also in effect for the western Florida Panhandle and a small portion of southwest Alabama for tomorrow night.

Tonight: Lows will range from the lower/mid 20s for north/central Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, with lower/mid 30s near the coast. For the western Gulf Coast — from about Morgan City, LA to Corpus Christi, TX — upper 20s to lower 30s are likely.

Tomorrow night: Similar temperatures are likely. However, upper 20s/lower 30s will make it a bit farther south and east, into the central Gulf Coast region. Temperatures should remain above freezing along the immediate coast though. Also, the Texas Gulf Coast will stay above freezing.

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Lee County, AL Hit Hard by Two Tornadoes This Afternoon

A total of 19 tornadoes have reported in Alabama and Georgia thus far today. Many of these reports are from Alabama, where multiple confirmed tornadoes touched down this afternoon.

Lee County, AL was hit hard, with two strong twisters taking almost identical tracks. The first touched down around 2:15 PM CST, with the second following shortly after.

Unfortunately, there are reports of widespread and extensive damage – especially out of Beauregard. There are also 10 fatalities as of the time of this writing according to the Lee County Sheriff.

A  tornado also reportedly touched down near De Funiak Springs, FL around 4: 30 PM CST. This according to National Weather Service Tallahassee.

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