Eclipse, severe storms, and heavy rain – oh my!

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Next week will be a busy week to be a meteorologist! Let’s set expectations as we head into it…

Saturday

The cooler weather of the past few days is relenting as high pressure shifts east and a southerly flow of air moves over the region. Temperatures will moderate today, especially once morning high clouds depart, allowing for highs in the upper 60s. A perfect day to begin your outdoor planting, as it appears the frost potential is probably over for the spring.

Sunday

A weak front moves into the area Sunday night. Ahead of it, south wind will become gusty, reaching 30 mph in the afternoon, and temperatures will reach the mid 70s as clouds also increase. We’ll see scattered showers and a few t’storms, mainly in the afternoon and evening. A couple of these storms could get a little feisty from late afternoon until just after sunset, so the Storm Prediction Center has outlooked the area for a Marginal Risk of a severe storm. That’s just a level 1 on the 5-point scale, so no widespread problems are affected, but isolated storms could have some hail or gusty wind, and a brief tornado can’t be completely ruled out due to the wind shear in place. All of this comes to an end by 9-10pm.

Eclipse Day!

We’ve been watching this closely every day for the past week and are finally getting into a window of time where our high-resolution models are seeing the early afternoon hours Monday, offering more guidance on the forecast. I am fairly confident that morning low clouds will occur as the Sunday night front washes out over us. I’m also confident that conditions will remain dry through the afternoon. 

Confidence dips a bit as we look at lingering clouds Monday afternoon when the eclipse occurs. Morning clouds should be breaking up by noon, but to what extent remains to be seen. The most likely scenario is that they will mostly clear during the afternoon, but timing is a bit uncertain. Also, high thin cirrus clouds will be arriving in the afternoon. These will have less effect on eclipse viewing. Like a 5-year-old lying about whether he broke your favorite vase, you should be able to see right through those. All that said, I think there is a good chance the eclipse will be visible at times during the nearly 3-hour event. At maximum eclipse around 2pm? Here’s hoping we all get a glimpse! 

Forecast cloud cover at the time of the eclipse on Monday afternoon, courtesy NWS-Memphis

For those heading west, in general, a similar forecast for the I-40 corridor in Arkansas. There is probably a better chance of decent viewing conditions north of I-40 than south of it due to those lower clouds. However, for the experience of totality that simply cannot be matched in a 97% coverage area like Memphis, it’s worth the trip in my book, and I’m taking the opportunity! 

We’ll start to see those clouds to our south pull further north as the afternoon and evening progress, both here and in Arkansas, as a very wet pattern starts to set up. Monday night could see the first of several rounds of showers and thunderstorms as a warm front moves north. A few of those storms could contain marginally severe hail and some wind gusts overnight.

Tuesday-Thursday

We’re expecting what may be more wet hours than dry for a couple of days mid-week, with bouts of thunderstorms embedded in rain. Some of those could be strong, especially Wednesday to Wednesday night, though more likely in north MS and southern AR than west TN. With repeated rounds of rainfall, multiple inches of pollen-cleansing rain are in order! We’ll hope the severe stuff stays away, but you’ll want to stay in touch for further updates as overnight storms are a possibility. 

By Thursday, low pressure responsible for all the rain will be moving through the Mid-South, tapering the stormy weather off to showers. By Friday, rain should be done and the drying process can commence as we head into the middle weekend of April. Overall, temperatures throughout the mid- to late-week period will be mild as high temperatures will be within a few degrees of 70 and lows will fall only into the 50s and 60s. 

Here’s to amazing eclipse viewing conditions and sturdy umbrellas next week!
Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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