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First day in an unsettled stretch of weather

5 months 1 week 4 days ago Wednesday, May 08 2019 May 8, 2019 May 08, 2019 6:10 AM May 08, 2019 in Weather
Source: WBRZ Weather

A stalled frontal system will initiate an unsettled weather pattern that lasts right into the weekend. Multiple rounds of showers and thunderstorms could result in several inches of rain.

THE FORECAST:

Today and Tonight: Scattered showers and thunderstorms are anticipated around the area on Wednesday. As we move deeper into the warm season, any storms become more capable of a quick hit of heavy rain. Despite some peeks of sun, with more clouds around, temperatures will top out in the mid 80s followed by a nighttime low near 70.

Up Next: Thursday is a tricky forecast with regard to storm timing.  It may well be that much of the day is quiet and warm but after dusk, an area of rain and thunderstorms push into the area. The setup is such that a few storms could be strong and heavy. Damaging wind gusts, hail and torrential rain will be possible. With that activity noted, Friday may begin particularly wet and stormy as well. Another round or two of rain and storms will occur on Saturday and Sunday.

By the end of the weekend, a general 3-5 inches of rain is expected, but as we commonly see, some locally higher totals could result in areas of street and poor drainage flooding. Spreading the rain over multiple days though should help ease any larger flooding problems. By virtue of clouds and precipitation, low temperatures should remain above average while high temperatures are near or just below average.

The Mississippi River: At Baton Rouge, major flood stage continues with a level of 41.8’ as of Wednesday morning. Peaking at 44.1’ on March 19, the river set its 7th highest recorded crest at Baton Rouge. In addition, at 122 days this marks the second longest period above flood stage. Heavy rain that fell north of the area will keep the river high through Mid-May. At about 43’, it does not appear that this second crest will be quite as high as the first earlier this year. The high water is primarily an issue for river traffic and river islands, although some inundation will continue unprotected low-lying areas. The city of Baton Rouge and the main LSU campus are protected by levees up to 47 feet. Some soggy areas and seepage may be noted due to the long duration of high water placing pressure on the levees. As some of the Mississippi River diverts into the Atchafalaya River, gauges at Krotz Springs and Morgan City will stay high as well. This creates backwater flooding in parts of Assumption Parish in areas such as Stephensville and around Lake Palourde. Like Big Muddy, this is expected to be a prolonged event but is not uncommon for the time of year.

THE EXPLANATION:

An unsettled stretch of weather will be underway by Wednesday morning. A warm front will be sliding in from the southwest and an associated weak cold front will move in from the northwest by Thursday and Friday. This front will stall and become more diffuse. A broad upper level trough will develop over the western two-thirds of the country. The position of this trough will put the local area under deep, southwest wind flow, which is a setup that favors rounds of rain and thunderstorms—especially with a forcing mechanism present in the form of a stalled front. High instability and drier mid-level air could even lead to some damaging wind gusts and hail on Thursday.

The Storm Prediction Center has placed the northwestern half of the forecast area in a 2 out of 5 “slight risk” for severe weather to account for this possibility. The timing on this aspect of the forecast is a bit more difficult. While global forecast models have been showing the severe weather threat on Thursday and heavy rain threat Friday, higher resolution, short-term models tell a slightly different story. What may occur is a quiet Thursday with a cluster or line of strong thunderstorms arriving after dark and continuing overnight into Friday with heavy rainfall. The overall pattern will likely continue right into the upcoming weekend. As subtle upper level disturbances ride over the stalled front, we can expect additional rounds of showers and thunderstorms. We are expecting a general 3-5 inches of rain over the area through Sunday, but along the Gulf Coast, an event like this often leads to isolated amounts that are quite a bit higher. The good news is that those amounts should be spread across 5 days, which should make runoff manageable for local rovers, but it would not be surprising to see some areas of street and poor drainage flooding.

--Josh

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