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Sunday storms then colder and drier

By Skip Rigney

Strong and possibly severe thunderstorms are on the horizon for Sunday. Then look for a shot of colder and drier weather.

Today a strong disturbance several miles high in the atmosphere is racing eastward across California. Computer models predict that by early Sunday it will have reached the Texas Panhandle.

As the upper disturbance continues barreling eastward it will begin to drag cold air out of the Great Plains accelerating a surface cold front into a southeastward sprint toward the Gulf.

Ahead of the cold front on Sunday the air over the Gulf South will be warm and moist. The clash of the advancing cold air with the warm, moist air is a recipe for showers and thunderstorms. The potent disturbance in the middle layers of the atmosphere could add some additional energy to the thunderstorms on Sunday and aid in the formation of a squall line ahead of the cold front.

Those are the factors that prompted the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma on Friday morning to say that there is a slight risk of severe thunderstorms on Sunday in an area stretching from southeast Louisiana across the southern halves of Mississippi and Alabama into northwest Florida. If severe storms do develop, the biggest threat is expected to be from strong, gusty winds and possibly small hail.

So, on Sunday morning check the National Weather Service forecast for our area to see if a watch for severe weather has been issued for our area. And, it wouldn’t hurt to keep up with the weather throughout the day. The southeastward moving cold front is expected to clear our area Sunday night. Behind the front, northerly winds will bring in cold air for the first part of the work week.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday lows are forecast to be in or near the 30s and afternoon highs are forecast to only make it into the 50s. The coldest hours during this cold snap will be Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Temperatures will almost certainly fall into the 30s, and in some parts of the county could dip into the upper 20s.

Not only will the air be much cooler than this past week, it will also be much drier. No rain is expected Monday through Thursday.

Although some clouds may linger behind the front, considerable sunshine is forecast for Monday through Wednesday, which should help take the edge off the chill.

By Thursday the centerline of the ridge of high pressure bringing us the cool, dry weather will have moved to our east and is expected to extend from New England to Florida. That will put us on the western side of the high pressure system’s clockwise circulation and cause our winds to shift to a southerly direction.

That means a return of milder, more moist air from over the Gulf of Mexico along with more clouds and a chance of showers for Thursday through next weekend. By then, winter will have vanished, at least for a while, and high temperatures will be back into the 70s.