Another round of strong storms ahead of a quiet stretch
Another frontal system is set to move across Louisiana and Mississippi. Yet again, we need to be aware of the possibility of strong thunderstorms Wednesday night and especially Thursday morning. Since part of the threat will be at night while many of us are asleep, have a way to receive alerts.
Today and Tonight: A warm front will lift through the area on Wednesday allowing southerly winds to transport moisture in from the Gulf. Expect it to feel a bit stickier as highs climb into the low to mid 80s. Clouds are expected to increase through the day. By late afternoon, isolated showers and thunderstorms will begin to develop. A line of rain and thunderstorms will try to enter the area overnight and, if it can hold together, one or two strong storms could deliver gusty wind or hail. An isolated tornado is unlikely but possible. The Storm Prediction Center has placed areas north and west of Baton Rouge in a 2/5 “slight” risk for severe weather. Overnight lows will be in the low 70s.
Up Next: On top of the local area around daybreak Thursday, a cold front could generate showers and isolated strong storms through early afternoon before breaking away to the east. Our forecast model guidance points to 7am - 11am Thursday as the most active period of this event. Some drying will come late Thursday with highs in the low 80s. Drier and mild conditions are then expected to last Friday through early next week. A very weak disturbance could stir up a stray shower Friday night but that seems to be it as far as precipitation is concerned.
The Mississippi River: At Baton Rouge, major flood stage continues with a level of 43.2’ as of Wednesday morning. The river is expected to fall very slowly through the next two weeks. The high water is primarily an issue for river traffic and river islands, although some inundation will continue for a few spots north and south of Baton Rouge that are not protected by levees. Unprotected low-lying areas will be flooded and agricultural operations will be impacted on the west side of the river. The grounds of the older part of Louisiana State University's campus become soggy. This includes the area around the Veterinary Medicine building, the Veterinary Medicine Annex, the stadium and ball fields. The city of Baton Rouge and the main LSU campus are protected by levees at this level. The level is also high in New Orleans and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway.
Through Wednesday, an upper level trough will pull moisture northward into the central Gulf Coast. Lack of any substantial forcing will keep the first half of the day dry. By late afternoon, a surface low will move across Oklahoma and into Arkansas with a trailing cold front. This system will take a slightly more northern track, meaning the wind fields will not be quite as favorable for severe weather as the last two systems. Also, the nighttime passage will leave a little less warmth and instability as well.
Still, enough ingredients are showing up on forecast model guidance that one or two strong thunderstorms will be possible, especially north and west of Baton Rouge. Therefore, the Storm Prediction Center has placed areas from Kentwood to Baton Rouge and points north in a “slight” risk for severe weather. A squall line appears to be the most likely mode of this storm system and so damaging winds and hail are the main threats. If enough surface instability can linger overnight, a tornado will be possible too, but that threat is just conditional at this point.
The “slight” risk threat will transfer to all areas east of the Mississippi River by dawn Thursday due to rekindled daytime warming. The same threats, damaging wind and hail, will continue through midday. High resolution models ping a few hours either side of dawn Thursday as the most active period and most likely time for severe storms. The cold front will exit east by Thursday afternoon. Quiet, mild weather is expected to follow through the weekend.
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