Less rain and mild through Friday

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 13, 2018

By Skip Rigney

After a very wet weekend, the rest of this work week will be drier, although quite a few clouds and a slight chance of showers will linger in the forecast. A spring-like air mass will take hold over south Mississippi today with high temperatures climbing into the middle and upper 70s through Friday.

Over this past weekend, winds from the southwest several miles high in the atmosphere brought a continuous stream of moisture over us from the eastern Pacific, across Mexico, and the Gulf of Mexico. Disturbances caused by waves in the upper wind field provided the instability needed to kick off several rounds of showers.

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Rain gauges across the region generally collected from 1.5 to 4 inches of precipitation from Friday night through Monday morning.

In fact, it has been a wet several weeks in Pearl River County. During the 17-day stretch from January 27th through Monday morning, February 12th, here are the accumulations in inches measured at several stations across the county:

Ceasar, 7.86; Carriere, 5.28; McNeill, 8.55; Poplarville, 8.13. The historical average for all of January and February is between 10 and 11 inches.

The Poplarville data is provided by the Mississippi State University Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station. The other stations are members of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.

Forecasters expect a weak ridge of high pressure to set up over the Gulf of Mexico today and remain there through Friday. The high pressure should be just strong enough to allow a drying trend to take hold over the Gulf states as it shunts most of the rain-producing disturbances to our north.

However, the high pressure ridge is expected to remain weak, and there will still be enough humidity around south Mississippi to produce quite a few clouds and to warrant the mention of a slight chance of showers through at least Friday. Forecasters expect any showers that do occur to be brief and light.

Watch out for fog to develop Tuesday night under light winds, and with plenty of low-level moisture in place.

The polar jet stream remains far to our north over the Midwest and Northeastern United States, keeping most of the cold air bottled up over Canada and the northern U.S. In fact, the weather model predictions for the next two weeks indicate a low risk of freezing temperatures in south Mississippi.

High temperatures on Thursday, which is expected to have more sun than today and Wednesday, may even flirt with 80 degrees for the first time since early December. A cool front will sag southward across the Gulf Coast sometime Friday or Saturday. As I write this column on Monday morning, the weather models are in poor agreement about how cool the air mass behind the front will be. Forecasters are currently betting that the front will drop temperatures only five to ten degrees, which would still be relatively mild for mid-February with lows over the weekend near 50 and high temperatures near 70. However, some model solutions have been trending cooler, raising the possibility that Saturday’s temperatures could drop into the 40s for lows and lower 60s for highs.

The models do agree that, even if Saturday and early Sunday turn out to be cool, temperatures will head back up into the spring-like 70s for Sunday and Monday.