Looking ahead to the Memphis in May #BSMF forecast

The times they are a changin’!  Here’s a look at the temperatures anomalies (departure from average) for the past 10 days:
Temperature anomaly for the period April 22-May 21, 2023 (CDAS data via WxBell)

You’ll notice the massive area of cold weather (relative to normal) that has encompassed the central and eastern U.S. Locally, it depicts temperatures that averaged about 8 degrees below normal for that 10-day period. We’ll be transitioning out of that pattern over the next couple of days into something more akin to early summer as a large ridge of high pressure that was over the western U.S. shifts east. Here are the forecast temperature anomalies for Saturday through Wednesday, May 6-11:

The blue areas large turn orange (above average), while the western U.S. flips cool, as a large trough replaces the high pressure ridge out west, as it shifts east into the Plains. With average highs nearing 80 degrees this time of year in Memphis and lows near 60, above average means some of you who have wanted to see some 80s will get your wish! 

Weather pattern changing

With that warmth comes a significant increase in humidity as well, as dewpoints rise from the 30s (where they have been for several days) to the 60s, which is supportive of thunderstorms. And thus, an unsettled, warm, and humid forecast… just in time for the kickoff of Memphis in May’s Beale Street Music Festival, back in Tom Lee Park for the first time in four years.
Enjoy the next couple of days as sunny skies and highs near 70 are expected Wednesday are followed by increasing clouds but still comfortable temperatures in the mid 70s Thursday. 

Opening day of Music Fest

On Thursday night, a warm front moves north with humid air trailing and encounters “northwest flow” at the upper levels. This upper air pattern, which often occurs in late spring and summer, allows thunderstorm complexes from the Plains to move southeast into the mid/lower Mississippi Valley. It appears that we may be in for one of those early Friday, perhaps arriving pre-dawn. This doesn’t present as a very severe event, but showers and thunderstorms are likely Friday morning, especially along and north of the broader I-40 corridor, including all of northeast AR and west TN. 
The Tuesday morning European model forecast precipitation from Thursday afternoon through Friday afternoon shows an area of precipitation diving southeast across the Mid-South in “northwest flow.” (WeatherBell)

It appears that once morning rain moves out/dissipates, we’ll have a moderately humid and warm afternoon with highs in the upper 70s and dewpoints rising into the lower 60s. There will be chances of shower or thunderstorm redevelopment in the afternoon and evening, but rain chances look lower during Music Fest gate hours than they are earlier in the day. Pack your cute rain boots or throw-away flip-flops though – it’s not called Memphis in Mud for nothing!

Weekend forecast

The weekend forecast is less certain from a specificity standpoint, but overall appears to be very warm, humid, and capable of producing additional scattered showers and thunderstorms, depending on the existence and timing of upper level disturbances that move through the early summer airmass. If you’re going to the river for great music this weekend, monitor forecasts leading until then and be prepared for showers on short notice!

This general pattern looks to stick around into early next week as no big cold fronts are currently on the horizon to bring sunny spring weather back, at least that we can pinpoint right now!

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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