Warmer weather on the way for Sunday

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, January 3, 2018

By Skip Rigney

If the current forecast is accurate, this week will be the first time in 28 years that Pearl River County has seen five straight days with temperatures at or below 25 degrees.

December of 1989 was the last time that we had such an extended cold spell. The arctic air mass that dropped the mercury into the middle 20s on Sunday night and into the upper teens Monday night and early Tuesday will be reinforced by another shot of cold air later today and tonight.

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That will mean a continuation of much colder-than-average temperatures for the next several days. Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Slidell expect more hard freezes each night through Friday night with lows in the lower to middle 20s.

Cold daytime temperatures have been another distinguishing feature of this cold stretch. Even on a sunny day in south Mississippi, the January sun angle is too low to add much warmth to an arctic air mass as cold as this one. Consequently, temperatures Monday didn’t make it out of the middle 30s. That gave many of us an extra excuse to stay inside and gorge on college football. Sitting by my warm fireplace and in front of my television on New Year’s Day and night, I watched more nearly consecutive hours of football than I had in years.

Expect more cold days as afternoon high temperatures through Saturday will likely not make it out of the 40s.

The wave in the jet stream that is preceding today’s reinforcing shot of cold air may produce some clouds. There’s even a slight chance of seeing a snowflake or two very early today, but the air is very dry and the upward motion ahead of the wave relatively weak. Actually the better chance of a few light flurries will be in extreme southern Louisiana, where there will be a little more moisture for the system to work with.

By Sunday six straight days of northerly winds will come to an end. As the centerline of the high pressure circulation that brought us the cold air finally moves to our east, our winds will veer around to the south bringing milder, more humid air off of the Gulf of Mexico.

Ocean temperatures change very slowly, even with an extended stretch of cold weather. The sea surface temperature at the National Data Buoy Center’s moored buoy 70 miles south of the Mississippi Coast is still near 70 degrees. The warmer, more humid marine air moving over the cold ground could cause some fog problems Sunday night or Monday night.

Another wave in the jet stream, currently moving west over the Pacific Ocean, will approach Mississippi Sunday night and Monday. Forecasters think that disturbance will bring us some showers and possibly even a thunderstorm.

Another cold front will send our temperatures back down for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. But, the cold air behind that front will not be nearly as frigid as what we are currently experiencing.

It’s not something that can be forecast, but just maybe we are getting our coldest weather of the winter out of the way the first few days of the new year.