Thoughts on the appearance of the sun and La Nina

Seven thoughts on a bright sunny day in Memphis…

1. It’s been a while hasn’t it? The sun came out in Memphis this morning, proof that it does still exist despite some folks expressing doubt over the past week!

Today is the first day since we went trick-or-treating that we’ve had an extended period of sunshine. Looking back through the hourly records from Memphis International Airport (link for weather geeks), there have been a few times after dark that skies have been clear since Halloween, but those don’t count (no sunshine). During daylight hours, we’ve been partly cloudy for an hour or two here and there a couple times as well, but the overall character of each day since the calendar turned has been cloudy to mostly cloudy.

2. In fact, I had a feeling people wouldn’t be ready for this rare event, so last night I issued a Bright Orb Warning. I hope it helped you adequately prepare!

3. It also occurred to me that tonight will be the first night we’ll be able to fully experience a “Standard Time” sunset! It’s gotten dark early this week, but at least today we’ll have some daylight until the late, late hour of 5pm…

4. How long does the sun stick around? The MWN Forecast shows more sun than clouds through Saturday morning before some dense cirrus cloud cover arrives. We’ll see a weak system move through Sunday that brings a chance of rain, but the sun should return Monday for a couple days. Another cold front arrives next Wednesday with slightly higher rain chances. Overall, we should be able to get used to seeing sunshine more days than not over the coming week.

5. How about temperatures? We’ll call them “seasonal,” which is pretty decent. Normal highs are in the mid 60s this time of year with lows in the mid 40s. After a reinforcing shot of cool air tomorrow, we should see numbers fairly close to that for the upcoming week. Friday will be chilly with highs only in the mid 50s and if you’re up early Saturday morning, you’ll need a coat if you head to the patio for coffee. Rural areas will be near freezing and everyone will be in the 30s. Layer up if you’re running the Greenline Half or 5K at Shelby Farms!

6. Meanwhile, to our west, the National Weather Service (NWS) has officially declared that La Nina has begun (again) in the Pacific. We had a weak La Nina last winter, which then turned “neutral” earlier this year. The NWS calls this return to La Nina a “double dip.” It will have effects on the winter ahead.

Red areas are places where the forecast odds favor a much warmer than usual winter, while blue colors favor cooler than usual winter. The darker the color, the higher the probability of that outcome (not a larger departure from average). NOAA Climate.gov map, based on data from NOAA CPC.

Brown areas are places where the forecast odds favor a much drier than usual winter, while blue-green colors favor wetter than usual winter. The darker the color, the higher the probability of that outcome (not a larger departure from average). NOAA Climate.gov map, based on data from NOAA CPC

7. Though I don’t have an official “winter forecast” published, locally I expect we’ll see a warmer than average winter season, but it could actually start cooler than average (late November into December). Mid to late-winter will likely be above average overall. While areas to our south (closer to the Gulf coast) will be drier than usual, I expect we will see a storm track that could favor some storminess as we sit in a “battleground” between warmer air in the south and pushes of cold air to our north. This setup could favor a winter weather scenario or two. I’m leaning more towards ice than snow, but that can’t be predicted in this area more than a few days out, so why listen to me in November??

Enjoy the sunshine!

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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