Frosty then mild (typical for fall in the Mid-South), plus an early glance at our Winter Outlook

A couple of fall cold fronts later, and the remnants of Delta that moved through about a week ago are ancient history, as high temperatures today barely reach the threshold where dewpoints stood last weekend! (That means moisture levels last weekend were higher than temperatures are today.) Portions of the Mid-South are now under a Frost Advisory as we anticipate our first readings below 40° Saturday morning with fire pits, hot chocolate, and hoodies on standby!

Early weekend

With clear skies and wind going calm this evening, look for our afternoon temperatures in the 60s to fall quickly through the 50s and 40s overnight. Along and west of the Mississippi River, a whisper of a breeze from the south will halt the temperature plunge just enough to keep frost at bay. But east of the river and outside the confines of the concrete jungle we call the Bluff City, morning lows on Saturday will be in the mid to upper 30s, resulting in areas of frost. 
Thus the NWS has issued a Turn-on-the-Heat Frost Advisory for points east of Memphis, namely Fayette and Marshall Counties in the metro, for the overnight hours. Even cooler locations in eastern Shelby, Tipton, and DeSoto Counties could see patchy frost with lows in the high 30s. The city proper will warm itself, keeping lows above 40. If you have outdoor plants (or even sensitive animals) in these cooler areas that you don’t want to be affected by the cold air, bring them inside for the night.

A frost is possible across portions of the Mid-South late tonight. This may harm sensitive vegetation left outdoors or unprotected. A Frost Advisory may be needed later today. #tnwx #arwx #mswx #mowx

— NWS Memphis (@NWSMemphis) October 16, 2020

FUN FACT: The first Frost Advisory of the fall has been issued on the same day as the earliest recorded freeze on record at Memphis International Airport – October 16, 1876! Luckily we’re not that cold quite yet!
With that southerly wind increasing Saturday, and plenty of sunshine, temperatures will rebound quickly tomorrow. Look for highs back up close to 70° as the Tigers kickoff mid-afternoon at the Liberty Bowl in front of 10,500 lucky folks! A beautiful afternoon for football (or whatever else you may want to to outside) if you ask me!

Late weekend into next week

The return of southerly wind means more moisture arriving, and with another front approaching, a few showers are possible on Sunday under mostly cloudy skies. It’ll be mild however as morning lows will be a good 10-15 degrees warmer than Saturday morning (50s) with highs into the lower 70s – not too far from average for mid-October. Southerly wind continues as the front moves into the metro area by Sunday night. 
The National Surface Map for Sunday evening shows a front just to our northwest with precipitation chances near it. This front stalls out near the Mid-South into next week. (NWS)

Early next week, the front stalls near or just north of us, wavering for a few days. This leads to a bit more uncertain forecast with rain chances possible each day early next week, but besides the presence of the front, no strong triggering mechanisms noticed for downpours or thunderstorms. Rainfall amounts should generally be light and showers spotty Monday-Wednesday. Mild conditions continue with lows in the upper 50s to lower half of the 60s and highs in the 70s. 

Rest of the week

By late week the front, or maybe another that approaches and merges with it, will finally get enough upper level support to move through the region. There is model debate about when that actually occurs as the strength of high pressure over the southeast U.S. and eastern Atlantic will ultimately determine when the passage is allowed. Signs point to Friday or Saturday at this time. When that happens, rain chances will increase, and it is possible we could see thunderstorms as well. That’s a week out though, so we aren’t too excited about it just yet. For the most part, next week looks to be mild with more clouds than sun overall, and low daily rain chances.
Despite a front nearby, total precipitation through next Friday morning is not excessive for our area, generally under one-half inch. (NWS)

NOAA Winter Outlook

NOAA, the parent organization of the National Weather Service, issued their 2020-2021 Winter Outlook yesterday. All signs point to continued La Nina conditions this winter, perhaps moderate to strong. That drives much of the forecasted conditions for the winter outlook, which is shown below. The Mid-South tends to be in the “battleground” of the airmasses in this type of setup, with wetter conditions to our north and dry conditions across the southern U.S. While that means things are a bit inconclusive, know that battleground is code for “not uninteresting” in this case. We’ll see how that plays out in terms of timing of precipitation and warm/cold airmasses over the course of the next few months!

This might actually be more appropriate though:

My honest winter forecast for winter 2020-21. ? My Official 17th annual Winter forecast will be out at the end of the month. #snOMG #cltwx #ncwx #scwx #wcnc

— Brad Panovich (@wxbrad) October 13, 2020

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

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