Showers today, then dry and continued mild

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 21, 2017

By Skip Rigney

Showers are likely today followed by a slow drying trend tonight into Wednesday.  The rest of the week should be dry except for a slight chance of showers on Friday.

All the buds, leaves, and blooms that are bursting out on plants all over our area will continue to get plenty of encouragement from the temperatures. Throughout the workweek our unseasonably warm weather will continue. Highs today and Wednesday are forecast to be in the 70s. Thursday and Friday high temperatures will approach 80. Lows are forecast to drop only as low as the 50s during the workweek.

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Those of us in the Deep South aren’t the only ones enjoying a spring-like week in February. Forecasters expect record warmth across the Midwest with temperatures over 20 degrees warmer than average. People all the way from Kansas to Maryland will see temperatures surging into the 70s.

The rain today is associated with a low-pressure circulation drifting southeastward out of Texas on a track towards south Florida. There is no surface cool air nearby, and therefore no surface fronts are associated with this system. But, the circulation of the system is strong enough to cause air ahead of it to rise, producing clouds, showers, and possibly a thunderstorm or two.

After the upper low passes to our southeast on Wednesday our rain chances will fall into the very slight category.

By Thursday all effects of the upper low will be gone, leading to a sunny and warm forecast.

On Friday, a potent low-pressure storm is predicted to pound the upper Midwest with near blizzard conditions.

A weak cold front will extend southward from the center of the low all the way to Louisiana. If the front kicks off any showers in our area, they should be brief and light. By Friday night or Saturday as the low moves northeast of the Great Lakes, its trailing cold front will pass through our area.

But, there won’t be any need to wear your heavy coat during the weekend. As mild air and high pressure build into our region behind the front, forecasters expect us to have sunny skies with highs on Saturday and Sunday still in the 70s and lows near 50.

So, even behind our next cold front, temperatures will be above the average highs and lows for late February, which are 67 and 43 degrees.

During many years, late February in our area can accurately be described as the transition from late winter to early spring. Of course, there is still time left for an outbreak of cold air.

About half of the years on record, the last freeze in Picayune didn’t occur until March 14th. In ten percent of those years, the last freeze occurred between March 28th and, at the latest, April 13th.

But, for now, meteorologists at the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland do not foresee any significant cold air on the horizon for the Gulf South. Their outlook for the next two weeks is for most days to continue the trend of above normal temperatures for our area.

The next major weather story for us looks like it could be the early and middle part of next week when possibly two rounds of thunderstorms could affect the area.