Stuck in a dreary weather pattern

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 29, 2018

By Skip Rigney

After a beautiful Christmas Day, dreary weather arrived on Thursday, and it appears that dreary will continue to be an accurate adjective through midweek.

You may not have been awakened on Christmas Eve by the sound of Santa and his reindeer,  but you may have been awakened Wednesday night or early Thursday morning by high winds. At least that was the case for me, a normally sound sleeper. I was surprised to find several potted plants in the yard blown over on Thursday morning.

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There are no easily accessible official wind observations for Pearl River County, but surrounding weather stations gave some indication of the strength of the winds Thursday. Slidell Airport measured sustained winds between 15 and 30 miles per hour all day with peak gusts of 43 and 45 mph at 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. respectively. The airport in Gulfport also recorded gusts in excess of 40 mph.

The strong southerly winds covered a wide swath from Louisiana and Mississippi northward to Missouri and Illinois. The rapidly moving air was being drawn northward toward a center of low pressure that started Thursday in Kansas and ended the day in Minnesota.

A cold front extended southward from the center of low pressure into Texas. As the front crept slowly eastward, the strong, moist southerly winds fed the development of heavy rain in Louisiana and south Mississippi.

Three to five inches of rain fell Thursday and Thursday night across most of Pearl River County with lesser totals of 1.5 to 3 inches in the southeast part of the county. Expect Hobolochitto Creek to be quite high through the weekend.

To our north, Marion, Lamar, and Forrest counties were inundated with five to 11 inches of rain, which led to widespread flash flooding in those areas.

Although the northern end of the cold front kept moving, the southern end stalled and now extends from Georgia westward along the Gulf Coast toward Texas.

Several miles above the Gulf Coast states, the winds are from the southwest and are expected to remain from that direction through Wednesday.

Until those upper winds veer around to a more westerly and northwesterly direction, we will stay mostly cloudy with a chance of showers. New Year’s Day looks to be the driest day in this stretch. The sun may even peek out on Tuesday.

Temperatures will be cool today, but will rise for Sunday and Monday as the front in the Gulf comes back as a warm front. By Tuesday a new surface cold front arrives, but the upper level winds will still be southwesterly.

That sets up Wednesday to be cold, gray, windy, and potentially wet. Temperatures further north in the state may even be cold enough to create some icy conditions on Wednesday.

By Thursday the upper level flow finally becomes more northwesterly and should drive out the clouds and allow sunshine to return to south Mississippi.

That upper level northwesterly flow will also help push more cold air into our area at the surface.

Lows by Friday morning may flirt with the freezing mark for the first time since December 22nd, but, no hard freezes are anticipated.