MWN Lightning Round: River crests, Saturday storms, then a cold blast!

Today we present another edition of the “MWN Lightning Round” with brief thoughts on a few topics. We’ll start with water…

Mississippi River Flooding

It’s good news when, just like a severe weather event not panning out, the river crests below predicted levels during a flood. A week ago, the Mississippi River forecast called for a maximum stage at Memphis of 43.5 feet (almost 10 feet above flood stage), which would have caused a fair number of issues in various parts of the city and surrounding area. As it turns out, the forecast crest was lowered during the week and we ended up with the river topping out at 39.59 feet on the Memphis gauge at 5:00am this morning. The river will slowly recede for several days before falling faster as we head further into January, so snap your pictures now if you want to see the highest January crest on record in Memphis.

These are the best pictures available that capture the full extent of the flooding, near crest, at Memphis. The volume…
Posted by US National Weather Service Memphis Tennessee on Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thunderstorms usher in next cold front

We’re back to 60° today after a cold start to the New Year, a pattern change we promised as y’all were sweating through an 80° day just after Christmas. While the overall pattern has given us a short reprieve to end the week, another Arctic blast is set to move into the northern half of the U.S. this weekend with the Mid-South getting “modified Arctic” air on its southern edge. That means no record temperatures, but a return to cold air by Sunday. In the meantime, low pressure will develop and move through the Mid-South on Saturday. Rain begins before dawn but the best chance of thunder will be around mid-day into the early afternoon as the low passes just to our west.

A Marginal (category 1 of 6) Risk of severe weather exists Saturday afternoon, primarily for the threat of large hail, but also an isolated tornado due to plenty of shear and cold air aloft.

A Marginal Risk of severe weather is forecast Saturday afternoon if we can get a little unstable air in place. Upper level jet dynamics, which creates wind shear, and cold air aloft will be sufficient to sustain strong storms capable mainly of producing some hail, though an isolated tornado risk will need to be monitored as well. Monitor our Facebook and Twitter feeds for the latest details. By late afternoon, a cold front will move through the metro, ending the storm risk and leading us to item #3 in the Lightning Round…

Arctic air strafes the region

Behind Saturday afternoon’s front and the departing low pressure system, temperatures fall quickly on northwest wind Saturday night. We’ll be down to 30° by Sunday morning with wind chills in the upper teens. It now appears moisture will be gone by then, so the very small chance of s–w that was mentioned earlier in the week appears to not happen.

Plan on staying warm Sunday though as temperatures remain in the 30s all day (and wind chills in the 20s) despite a mostly sunny day. It won’t be nearly as cold as up north though! The NFL playoff game in Minneapolis on Sunday will see wind chills well below zero and temperatures in the single digits! Our cold lasts through the first half of next week with lows in the 20s and highs in the 40s as a reinforcing front arrives via a clipper system on Tuesday. Light snow will be possible well to our north with that system, but we’ll likely only see an increase in clouds on Tuesday. It appears we’ll be back near 50 in a week or so.

The overall pattern doesn’t change a great deal though, so we’ll need to keep an eye on most precipitation-producing systems for a while for any threat of something other than liquid. Nothing worth mentioning at this point though!

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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