Summer weather is in soggy mode

Published 1:04 pm Saturday, August 27, 2022

By Skip Rigney

Water is standing in the ditches. Water is standing in yards, many of which look like they haven’t been mown in a couple of weeks. Mildew and mold are growing like gangbusters on man-made surfaces which happen to be susceptible to the fungi and which are not in an air-conditioned space. In other words, it’s just another stretch of soggy, summer weather in south Mississippi.

During some periods each summer we usually are underneath strong, high pressure in the upper atmosphere. Even though it remains humid near the surface where we humans live, the sinking air under the high pressure stifles cloud and shower development resulting in mostly sunny skies and very hot temperatures with highs in the middle to upper 90s.

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That was the case back in June, when there were more dry days than days with rain. Afternoon high temperatures on many days were in the middle 90s to near 100 degrees.

We have been in a very different mode of summer weather this month. On 22 of the first 26 days of August it has rained in most locations in Pearl River County, and daily high temperatures have mostly been in the upper 80s and lower 90s.

Instead of high pressure in the upper atmosphere above the Gulf South this month, we have either been between highs and lows, or under weak troughs of low pressure. Moist air has extended all the way from the surface high into the atmosphere.

In that kind of environment, just add a little daytime heating and air parcels begin to rise and form clouds and showers. This week they’ve been given an extra boost upward by a stalled weak frontal boundary through central Mississippi and low pressure to our west in Louisiana.

The result has been yet another soggy week. Rainfall accumulations through Friday morning for the previous seven days ranged from three to six inches across Pearl River County, bringing totals for the month into the six to ten inch range.

The pesky low pressure and frontal boundary will finally dissipate this weekend, but we are still stuck with extremely humid air and the lack of strong high pressure above us. So, while there will likely be fewer showers this weekend and into next week compared to this past week, we still have a better than 50/50 chance of getting rain for at least a half hour or so each day.

During the upcoming week, forecasters around the Gulf of Mexico and at the National Hurricane Center in Miami will be tracking a disturbance as it moves across the Caribbean Sea. If it does develop into a tropical storm or hurricane, which is by no means a certainty, it would probably not enter the Gulf until Thursday or Friday at the earliest.

Forecasters will also be tracking two other disturbances much farther out in the Atlantic, which have even better chances of developing, but which are at least ten days from being anywhere near the United States.

If a tropical storm doesn’t form before Thursday, then August 2022 will end without any named tropical cyclones in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf, which is quite rare. That has only happened four times in the modern era of weather observations: 1997, 1961, 1941 and 1929.