This week is more like April than January

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The calendar may say January, but the weather keeps trying to convince us that it’s spring. Highs in the middle 70s and lows in the upper 50s are closer to the average temperatures for April than for January.

Analysis of historical weather records for Picayune shows that the daily average high and low temperatures during the first three weeks in January are near 61 and 38 degrees.

Of course, what always happens is that there are variations above and below the historical daily averages on any given day. For us about two-thirds of the time on any given day in January, the actual maximum and minimum temperatures are within about ten degrees above or below the historical averages.

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Still, the first three weeks this January are shaping up to be much warmer than normal. This Saturday when the third week comes to an end, it is likely that 14 of the first 21 days of the month will have had high temperatures more than ten degrees warmer than average.

Since the middle of last week, weather maps for altitudes several miles above the surface show the southeastern United States dominated by strong high pressure centered over the Gulf Coast and Florida.

The warm air mass associated with this high-pressure system has been giving even some of our neighbors to the north an unusually early taste of spring. Last Thursday temperatures soared into the 70s across Missouri, and 15 weather stations in that state set new record highs for January 12th.

The upper high has been weakening over the past several days. But, the warm, moist air remains, and there may be a few isolated showers today and Wednesday.

What is left of the upper high is sliding further east, out into the Atlantic. This is going to allow a disturbance in the jet stream high above us to move our way from the southwestern United States. By Thursday and Thursday night, this upper level trough of low pressure is predicted by the computer models to swing northeast out of Texas bringing us rain and the potential for some thunderstorms.

Even though the upper level trough will move to our east on Friday, the surface cold front will remain to our northwest allowing our streak of warm weather to continue through the weekend.

A strong surface low is projected to form along the front in Texas and Oklahoma on Saturday and Sunday. The energy associated with the low in combination with the warm, moist air in our region is projected to set off numerous showers and potentially strong thunderstorms. Keep up with the weather Saturday and Saturday night in case some of the storms become severe.

By Sunday night or Monday the front that was stalled all week to our northwest should finally move through.

This will allow cool air to slip southward into our area for the first time in nearly two weeks. But even behind the cool front, the temperatures are expected to be near or even above normal for the first half of next week.

By Skip Rigney