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The long spring is coming to an end

By Skip Rigney

There’s a complaint that I’ve heard many times over the 50 years that I’ve lived in south Mississippi. “There’s only about one week of spring, and then summer starts.” In fact, I’ve heard it from residents of all parts of the Gulf Coastal Plain from south Louisiana, south Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

I don’t know how often that’s really true. However, this year even the most finicky climate connoisseurs would be hard pressed to find a reason to complain. Temperatures have been generally quite pleasant from the middle of February through March and April.

Of course, a lot depends on one’s definition of spring. For the sake of discussion allow me to rather arbitrarily define spring weather in south Mississippi as when afternoon highs fall somewhere in the range from the middle 60s through the 70s and into the lower 80s. Let’s call that the “spring range.”

By that definition spring began making its appearance way back in February, with 18 of the month’s 28 days falling into the “spring range.”

March this year had 23 of 31 days when the maximum temperature fell in the “spring range.” Twenty-five of the 30 days of April 2019 fell into the “spring range” with high temperatures across the area between 64 and 83 degrees.

Now we are in the month of May average high temperatures for May 4-10 are in the lower 80s in Pearl River County based on the last 30 years of data. Forecasters expect temperatures for the coming week to be near to slightly above that so-called “normal” temperature.

If you happen to be one of those strange souls whose favorite season is summer in the Deep South, then you probably are looking forward to our first 90 degree day of the year. Some of the weather models show high pressure strengthening enough over the southeastern U.S. and the Gulf by Friday or Saturday (May 10 or 11) that we could get into the upper 80s, and, perhaps, even flirt with our first 90 degree reading since early October last fall.

Regardless, we are still early enough in the transition from late spring to early summer that weak cool fronts are continuing to make their way, albeit without much energy, into the Gulf South.

That will be the case this weekend. On Saturday a weak cool front will be limping our way from east Texas. The instability ahead of the front in conjunction with an associated disturbance in the upper atmosphere is forecast to set off numerous showers and thunderstorms Saturday.

As is typical this time of year, the only coolness that you are likely to notice behind the front will be Sunday night and early Monday morning. The air will be less humid, however, and that will help keep rain chances low on Sunday and Monday.

By Tuesday or Wednesday, several miles above our heads, a swirl in the southern jet stream will destabilize the atmosphere and make showers and thunderstorms likely once again.

After that disturbance passes to our east, forecasters expect the remainder of the work week to be warm and humid with at least a slight chance of mainly daytime showers. That’s a forecast you can expect to hear a lot more often over the next five months.