Drier weather forecast to begin June

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 30, 2020

By Skip Rigney

Rain during the first half of this past week was enough to make May slightly wetter-than-average in most parts of Pearl River County, but a changing pressure and wind pattern will lead to drier conditions for much of the upcoming week.
Low pressure centered over Oklahoma kept moist southerly flow in the atmosphere above us Sunday through Wednesday, and weak disturbances rotating around the low helped trigger numerous showers and thunderstorms on those days.
Based on radar estimates, the highest rain totals for the week were in the northeast quadrant of the county where two to five inch amounts were common. Areas in and within a few miles of Picayune also picked up over two inches. Most other locations in the county received between one and two inches of rain this week.
Yesterday the low pressure system weakened and raced off to Canada. In its place, strengthening high pressure over the central and southeastern United States is bringing stable, drier air to the Gulf South to start the month of June. An isolated shower is possible, but most of us probably won’t see rain in the upcoming work week.
June is our first full month of summer, and with it comes a different set of weather risks to pay attention to.
Lightning is the most common weather threat during the summer, and perhaps one of the most underrated. According to the National Weather Service, over 500 people are injured by lightning on average each year in the U.S. If you hear thunder, you’re close enough to be struck by lightning. The NWS reminds us that, “When thunder roars, go indoors.”
June is typically the first month of the year that brings the possibility of tropical weather systems to south Mississippi.
The risk of major hurricanes along the northern Gulf Coast is small until August, but early summer does bring the threat of tropical storms with heavy rains. That’s because many of the tropical disturbances that do form in June develop relatively close to us, either in the northwest Carribean Sea or Gulf of Mexico.
While unlikely, it is possible for June storms that form in the Gulf to grow into powerful hurricanes. Hurricane Audrey, which formed in the southern Gulf in the last week of June in 1957, slammed into the far western coast of Louisiana. Audrey killed over 400 people making it the seventh deadliest hurricane in U.S. history.
June, with its increasing heat and humidity, is almost always the first month of the year with the risk of heat-related injuries such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. One of the most severe heat waves on record in Pearl River County occurred in June 1953 when the high temperature was 95 degrees or hotter for 16 consecutive days at the Poplarville Experiment Station and was between 100 and 103 on eight of those days. Even for people who were used to enjoying summer with the windows open and no air conditioning, that had to be a tough month.
Fewer showers this time of year means warmer temperatures, but fortunately this week’s mostly dry weather will only be accompanied by afternoon highs around the 90 degree mark.
That’s a far cry from 1953, but I still plan on keeping my air conditioner on.

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