Frost possible midweek, drought developing

Published 1:13 pm Saturday, October 15, 2022

By Skip Rigney

The coldest air so far this fall will have low temperatures flirting with the upper 30s by the middle of the upcoming week. That same air mass with its low humidity will also contribute to the development of drought conditions across the Gulf South in the longer term.

This past Wednesday’s rains briefly interrupted Pearl River County’s recent dry spell, but NOAA forecasters say that indicators are pointing toward below-normal rainfall for the rest of the year.

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As a slow-moving cool front approached south Mississippi last Wednesday, it kicked off the first showers that had occurred anywhere in the county in 20 days. Wednesday’s rainfall totals varied widely. Nearly two inches fell in a narrow swath from Carriere and Anchor Lake eastward into Hancock County. More typical in Pearl River County were amounts between one-tenth and three-quarters of an inch, and a few places received even less.

Using data going back to the late 1800s, October has typically been Pearl River County’s driest month with the fewest number of days with rain (about 7), and the lowest monthly precipitation (on average, about 3.5 inches). More recently, for the years of 1991 through 2020, October has trended wetter with the monthly average coming in at over 4 inches, and the title of driest month being shared more often with the other fall months of September and November.

Rainfall in September this year was below-normal everywhere in Pearl River County according to data from the National Weather Service’s (NWS’s) Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service ( Now, halfway through the month of October 2022, over 75 percent of the county is running well behind schedule for precipitation.

Forecasters at the NWS Forecast Office in Slidell expect the dry weather to continue for most of the upcoming week. The only chance for even a brief, light shower will come Monday as a cold front approaches, and odds are better than 70 percent that we will not see any rain.

This weekend, well ahead of the cold front, morning low temperatures will be about average for mid-October, which is in the middle 50s. Afternoon highs on Saturday and Sunday, however, are forecast to be warm, in the middle to upper 80s, which is 5 to 10 degrees above average.

A cold front passes through on Monday, giving us our brief chance of a shower. That’s followed by a much stronger surge of cold air on Tuesday. High temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday will probably remain in the 60s.

Tuesday night and Wednesday night, temperatures are forecast to be much-below normal falling into the upper 30s under clear skies. Temperature forecasts, as well as official observations, are for the air several feet above ground level. If winds drop to near calm, that could allow the ground and other surfaces such as plant leaves to cool down enough for us to have our first frost a couple of weeks earlier than normal.

So, if you have tender vegetation outside that you want to stay green a little longer, before Tuesday night you may want to move it inside, up on the porch, or next to the south wall of a building. You also may want to give those plants an extra drink of water, because it doesn’t appear the atmosphere is going to do so anytime soon.