Soggy Easter followed by more rain this week

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Did your Easter eggs get wet Sunday? If so, you weren’t alone. Across the Deep South, from Louisiana to South Carolina, many families had to resort to Plan B for their annual Easter egg hunt.
In our area, I’m sure many took advantage of a break in the rain on Sunday afternoon to get the kids out of the house and send them scurrying around the yard in search of eggs. But given the rain that had already fallen and the lack of sunshine to dry anything off, eggs, their seekers, and some of their hiders got wet.
Several culprits combined to make for our soggy Easter Day. Three to four miles high in the atmosphere a well defined trough of low pressure was moving toward the Mississippi River Valley from the Great Plains states of Oklahoma and Kansas. At even higher altitudes, the jet stream was roaring out of northern Mexico across the Gulf and above the Deep South. At the surface a weak cool front was sliding slowly toward us from the west.
All of these factors combined to provide upward motion in the atmosphere across our region. When that happens, and especially when the air is humid as it was Sunday, we’re in for rainy weather.
By Monday, all of those systems had moved off to our east, and the sinking, drier air behind them put an end to the rain.
However, the surface front that passed through Sunday night will begin to move back out of the Gulf today. It’s being drawn northward as our upper level winds shift from west to southwest in front of a strong upper low-pressure system centered over Utah.
By Wednesday computer models predict that a piece of energy will spin off of that low pressure system and move westward above the Central Plains, enhancing the upward motion of air over our region. Wednesday night through Thursday night disturbances in the southwest flow of the southern jet stream located directly above us will provide additional lift.
All of that rising motion combined with plenty of low-level moisture from the Gulf of Mexico once again means we’re in for quite a bit of rain. The National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center is forecasting that the bull’s-eye of heaviest rain will be centered over south Mississippi, We could receive over three inches. While showers may begin popping up during the day Wednesday, the heaviest rain is predicted to occur Wednesday night and Thursday. There could be some strong thunderstorms as part of the system.
Two of the best computer models disagree about when the rain will end. One model shows the rain ending Thursday night, the other has showers hanging around through Friday.
While the timing differs, both models show cooler air filtering into the region for the weekend. Early morning lows will drop at least into the 50s, and may drop into the 40s. But by this time of year, the sun’s rays are becoming direct enough that when skies are fair, afternoon temperatures warm up nicely, even in relatively cool air masses. That means afternoon highs over the weekend will likely reach the middle 60s and possibly even the 70s.

By Skip Rigney

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