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Warm and unsettled week ahead

By Skip Rigney

Although off to a chilly start, Saturday is forecast to be a nice, early spring day as strong high pressure dominates the eastern half of the United States.
The high pressure system has settled in behind a cool front that passed through the Gulf Coast states Thursday night and Friday morning. That was after an initial shot of cooler air arrived Thursday behind a low pressure circulation that slid eastward along the Gulf Coast on Wednesday and Wednesday night bringing us our dose of rain for the week. Most locations in Pearl River County received between one-half and one-inch during mid-week according to rain gauge data collected by the non-profit Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network and radar data from the National Weather Service (NWS). The Poplarville Experiment Station recorded 0.55 inches.
As expected, the heavier rainfall occurred to our north in central Mississippi where two to five inches fell. The areas covered by the heavy rains included the upper Pearl River watershed.
Much of that water will be making its way down the Pearl River, which is why the NWS River Forecast Office in Slidell is predicting that the river, which has been falling over the past week, will begin slowly rising again this week. However, the crest is expected to be lower than the high levels that occurred the last week in February.
The latest observations and forecasts along the Pearl River, as well as Hobolochitto Creek, are available online from the NWS River Forecast Office in Slidell by clicking on the “Rivers and Lakes” tab at www.weather.gov/LIX/
Clouds will begin to return to our area on Sunday as winds veer to the southeast. Our highest rain chances for the week appear to be Tuesday as an upper level trough of low pressure passes above us.
After that the probability of rain is uncertain. According to the forecast discussion on Friday morning from NWS Slidell, “Mid week will be a fight between an upper ridge (of high pressure) and weak shortwaves (of low pressure) moving through. Thus it could be dry or scattered showers from one day to the next.”
Forecasters are much more confident in the temperature forecast for the upcoming week. Temperatures each afternoon are expected to climb into the 70s and overnight only fall to near 60. The historical average low temperatures in Pearl River County for the second week in March are in the middle 40s and average highs are near 70. So, this week’s warmer-than-average air will give plants that are blooming, budding, and greening an extra surge of energy.
Our mild temperatures, however, seem almost chilly compared to the record-breaking heat that spring breakers enjoyed this past week on Florida’s east coast. College students from Michigan State, Michigan, and University of Florida who inundated spring-break hotspot Daytona Beach on Thursday were treated to a high temperature of 89 degrees, 17 degrees warmer than the historical average for March 5th of 72.
Inland visitors to Disney World were sweating in the low 90s. It’s too early to know whether the warmer-than normal trend in central Florida will affect the first week of April, when I’m sure some local families plan to take advantage of spring breaks at our schools to go see Mickey and Minnie.