Friday, October 21, 2016

Gorgeous fall weather, drought status, and winter outlooks

See?? I wasn't lying! Cool fall weather really did make it into the Mid-South! Most of us woke up to temperatures that started with a "4" this morning for the first time in over five months and, despite full sunshine, we're only going to get to the mid 60s for highs today. After a long, hot summer that seemed to be never-ending, it has. I for one am grateful. If you're going to be out this evening, take along a jacket as temperatures will quickly drop into the 50s with sunset.

Metro temperatures as of 6am this morning. (MWN)
If you were on the cusp of turning on the furnace this morning, tomorrow morning's temperature might just push you over the edge. Morning lows will be about 5° cooler with 40-45° temperatures expected metro-wide. In fact, it's possible that a few 38-39° readings could occur in low-lying rural areas well removed from the urban heat island tonight, particularly to the east. Frost likely won't be an issue in the metro, but it won't be far away! For Saturday, it'll be a tad warmer, but a high of 70° is still phenomenal and welcomed!

NWS-Memphis predicts the possibility of frost across eastern portions of west Tennessee and north Mississippi early Saturday morning. (

Inevitably, of course, there is a rebound, but at least this time we're not talking about mid to upper 80s and noticeable humidity. By Sunday afternoon, after another chilly start with lows in the 40s, temperatures rebound into the upper 70s as wind shifts southerly. In fact, the "warmth" of the next week or so will be highs near 80° with lows moderating back up close to 60 by mid-week. Believe it or not, that is still a fair amount "above normal" as average highs drop towards the 70° mark in about a week. No significant rain chances exist in the coming week either. Clouds increase mid-week as a weather system moves by well to our north, but rain chances continue to be minimal.

Average temperatures for the month of October in Memphis.
Departure from normal temperatures for the past 30 days in Memphis. Nearly every day has seen an average temperature above average, and most well above average. (NWS)

Drought Status

Speaking of lack of rain, drought conditions continue to worsen in the past couple weeks with all of the metro except Crittenden County now classified as being in a "moderate drought." Rainfall has been minimal for nearly two months now, despite being well above average for the year thanks to wet conditions for the first half of the year.

The latest drought monitor shows moderate drought conditions in the metro and extreme drought expanding in east-central MS. (

Observed precipitation for the past 90 days in Memphis. From late July to late August, precipitation was well above average, but there has been little precipitation recorded since the first of September. (CPC/NCEP)

Winter Outlook

Yesterday, NOAA, the parent organization of the National Weather Service, released their 2016-2017 Winter Outlook. I've included the graphics below, but you can click here to read the full story. In a nutshell, weak La Nina conditions are likely to be one of the primary drivers of the weather patterns this winter. La Nina is a cooling of the equatorial ocean waters west of the South American coastline. It tends to result in drier and warmer than average conditions across the southern U.S., with the Mid-South on the northern fringes of that region.

Specifically, NOAA gives us about a 40% chance of above average temperatures for the December through February period. Precipitation is forecast to have "equal chances" of being above or below average. In other words, there is no clear signal of either condition occurring.

The other outlooks that I have perused are fairly well in line with NOAA, with perhaps a trend from above normal temperatures earlier in the winter to near or slightly below average to end the winter. Snow is always a tough call - and the most asked question of course - but because our average snowfall for the year is basically one storm, and zero or two would be "abnormal," it's simply too difficult to know how much we'll get. A few mile difference in a storm track could make the difference between an above normal and below normal year! It'll be interesting to see how it plays out for sure.

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Good news / bad news in the forecast

Temperatures are back in the mid 80s again as the calendar indicates we're nearing the halfway point in the month of October and average daytime highs drop into the mid 70s. Many of you are asking "when will this end??" I have some good news and a little bad news.

The good news: The mid 80s end after today!

 The bad news: But only for a couple of days.

More good news: A more significant pattern shift looks to arrive by the middle of next week that could end multi-day runs in the mid 80s for some time!

Even more glass-half-full news: Even with 80s in the afternoons, you've gotta admit that the mornings and evenings have been pretty pleasant thanks to lower dewpoints that arrive in the fall. PLUS, we'll be getting some much-needed rain to end this week!


A cold front will sink south into the region later today and stall just to the south of the metro on Thursday and Friday. A few showers are possible early Thursday as the front moves through. However, even though you'll see a fair amount of rain on radar to our north later today into tonight, most of it will dry up before reaching the metro as the front loses steam and its best moisture and energy will skirt by us to the north.

Rainfall is expected to stay mainly north of the metro with the cold front Thursday morning. A few showers are possible but don't get your hopes up. Total precipitation through early Thursday, according to the NWS is shown.

The highest rain chances, and they'll be fairly small, will be north of the 35th Parallel. (A note of explanation: too many people say the "I-40 Corridor." I decided that the 35th Parallel, or 35° North latitude, which is basically the TN/MS state line, sounds cooler. So I used it.) 

The good news is that the cloud cover from the front will keep temperatures in check Thursday - how about mid 70s instead of mid 80s?


Late Thursday night into Friday, an upper level disturbance in the force will move along the front and bring us perhaps our best rain chances in quite some time (I've recorded just 0.13" total since September 16th at MWN in Bartlett). Scattered showers are expected from early in the day until probably mid-afternoon Friday. The system won't bring a deluge of rain, but could double or perhaps triple our total precipitation from the past month (which honestly isn't saying a whole lot, but would certainly be welcome!). With any luck, rain will be gone by Friday night football kickoff. Temperatures will be comfortable on Friday with highs in the lower to mid 70s.

Better rain chances arrive on Friday with most places likely getting 1/4" or more, according to the NWS.

Weekend and Beyond

This weekend, we'll be back to - you guessed it - the mid 80s with increasing sunshine. That warmth will last until at least the early part of next week. In addition to the warmer temperatures, humidity will also be on the rise, leading to warmer morning lows (probably near 70 early next week). As alluded to above though, a fall front and potential upper level patter shift by the middle of next week looks to drop us back to the 70s, even with sunshine, and perhaps FINALLY lead us into a more autumnal pattern as we close out October. One can only hope!

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Recap of Hurricane Matthew & Mid-South weather this week

Former Major Hurricane Matthew is finally headed out to sea, after watching it for nearly 2 weeks - from its genesis as a tropical storm with 60 mph wind on its first official advisory near the Leeward Islands, to the strongest hurricane on record so far south (just off the South American coast), through the hard right turn towards Jamaica and Haiti, to a brief landfall in far southwest Haiti that still managed to kill nearly 1000 Haitians (more than the past 5 Atlantic season combined), to a path through the Bahamas as a major hurricane, along its coast-grazing run up the Florida peninsula that could have been SO much worse if it had been 25 miles west, to the lashing and splashing of the Carolina coasting with literally TRILLIONS of gallons of water and a landfall on the SC coast, to a scary forecast scenario indicating a possible turn back towards the Bahamas, and - finally - being absorbed by a front that will take the post-tropical cyclone straight out to sea.

Here are some graphics and tweets that help tell the story:

The entirety of the wind swath associated with Matthew. Hurricane force wind was generated continuously from just off the South American coast through the Caribbean, Bahamas, up the coast of FL and into the Mid-Atlantic coast. (NHC)

A new inlet was even cut by the powerful wave action along the coast of Florida between St. Augustine and Palm Coast as shown in these before/after images from NOAA.

Rainfall amounts (radar-derived and gauge readings) over the Carolinas through Saturday evening. (WxBell)

Stunning visible image of Matthew at 2:20 pm Saturday from the Aqua satellite. Credit NASA/Goddard Spaceflight Center.
In the end, despite what will easily be a billion dollar weather disaster for the U.S., it could have been so much worse, especially for Florida, which narrowly escaped 80-100+ mph wind gusts along an extensive length of its coastline (107 mph gust recorded on the far eastern tip of Cape Canaveral, which sticks out into the Atlantic by several miles and was observed 54' above the ground). In addition, the 4000-day major hurricane landfall "drought" continues on, as Matthew didn't officially make landfall until it was a minimal category 1 hurricane on the SC coast. The last major (category 3) landfall in the U.S. was Hurricane Wilma, just short of 11 years ago, in 2005. Here's a list of other factoids and records set by Matthew, courtesy of Colorado State University hurricane expert Dr. Philip Klotzbach.

Prayers go out to all of those affected, who have lost possessions, or perhaps even family or friends, in the storm. Hopefully no additional storms will affect land for the remainder of the 2016 season, which ends on November 30.

Locally, the coolest and driest air of the fall season is over us this weekend, leading to lows well into the 40s this morning outside of the urban core. Highs in the 70s with a northeast breeze and very low humidity are making for pleasant conditions this weekend. As we head into Fall Break week for many area families, another very pleasant day is on tap Monday before temperatures warm back into the 80s for the middle of the week ahead. Typical of fall though, dewpoints will remain low, meaning humidity will be at comfortable levels and morning lows will also be quite nice - in the 50s to near 60.

Precipitable water (PW) on Tuesday morning, according to the GFS model, shows relatively dry atmospheric conditions across the region. Values less than 1" (where green changes to blue in the image) are considered comfortable. (PivotalWeather)

Another cold front arrives Wednesday night with a slight chance of rain. Unfortunately, there are no good chances of much-needed rainfall in the forecast. Behind the front, we'll cool back down a bit into the 70s to end the week. The cool spells seem to be short-lived as well above average temperatures are expected to continue, on average, through at least the 3rd week of October. Even more reason to enjoy the cool when we get it!

GFS model forecast precipitation during our best chance of rain this week - Thursday between midnight and noon. Very low rain chances exist this coming week. (PivotalWeather)
Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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Saturday, October 8, 2016

September 2016 Climate Data for Memphis, TN

September Recap

As the 4th hottest summer (June-August) on record ended, September provided little relief overall with well above average heat continuing. Overall very warm conditions lasted until the last few days of the month with highs in the 90's on 20 of the first 25 days of the month. In addition, September was a very dry month with most locations in the metro receiving less than an inch of rain. The last two weeks of the month saw "abnormally dry" conditions officially give way to "moderate drought" for portions of the metro, including southern Shelby County into north MS. There was no severe weather during the month.

The Drought Index for the Mid-South at the beginning of October shows moderate drought (D1) over the southern metro and abnormally dry (D0) conditions for the rest of the metro. 

Memphis International Airport, Memphis, TN

Average temperature: 80.5 degrees (5.3 degrees above average)
Average high temperature: 90.9 degrees (5.8 degrees above average)
Average low temperature: 70.0 degrees (4.8 degrees above average)
Warmest temperature: 98 degrees (15th, 16th, 25th)
Coolest temperature: 54 degrees (29th)
Records set or tied: Daily high temperature records were set on the 24th (97°) and 25th (98°) and tied on the 15th (98°). A daily record high minimum (warmest low temperatures) was also set on the 15th (78°).
Comments: 20 days recorded highs at or above 90 degrees in September, which is 12.2 more than average. This month tied for the 2nd warmest September on record in Memphis. For the year, the average temperature is 68.5 degrees, which ties for second warmest January-September period on record.

Monthly total: 0.67" (2.42" below average)
Days with measurable precipitation: 5 (2.3 days below normal)
Wettest 24-hour period: 0.54" (10th)
Records set or tied: None
Comments: Despite a very dry month with most precipitation occurring on a single day, through the first nine months of 2016, Memphis International Airport has recorded 50.48" of precipitation, or 12.01" above average (131%). That also ranks as 3rd wettest on record for the January-September period.

Peak wind: East/46 mph (9th)
Average wind: 6.3 mph
Average relative humidity: 61%
Average sky cover: 40%

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

Cirrus Weather Solutions /, Bartlett, TN

Average temperature: 76.1 degrees
Average high temperature: 89.6 degrees
Average low temperature: 64.2 degrees
Warmest temperature: 97.7 degrees (25th)
Coolest temperature: 49.2 degrees (29th)
Comments: None.

Monthly total: 0.79" (automated rain gauge), 0.xx" (manual CoCoRaHS rain gauge)
Days with measurable precipitation: 4
Wettest date: 0.41" (13th) (via automated gauge)
Comments: None

Peak wind: Southwest/20 mph (26th)
Average relative humidity: 78%
Average barometric pressure: 30.04 in. Hg

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

MWN Forecast Accuracy

MWN average temperature error: 1.75 degrees
MWN forecast temperatures within 2 degrees of actual: 78%
MWN average dewpoint error: 2.14 degrees
MWN forecast dewpoints within 2 degrees of actual: 65%

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