AND THEN IT WAS MARCH...
February went out like a lamb and March is coming in the same way. A west/northwest flow aloft is sending a mild brand of Pacific based air into the Midwest that should hold through Wednesday. For some, Wednesday could be the warmest day of the year for much of us with highs well into the 60s. A brief interruption occurs Thursday but the warmth returns for the start of the weekend. Below you can see the average daily temperature departures expected Tuesday through Saturday.
Here's the 500mb flow that should produce those desirable numbers.
As I alluded to above, there is one fly in the ointment and that's a cold front that produces a significant temperature drop Thursday. You can see how the EURO goes from a high of nearly 60 Wednesday to 34 in Cedar Rapids Thursday. The GFS also shows enough lift with the set-up for some light snow or flurries late Wednesday night or Thursday morning in some part of the area. So far the EURO is not as excited about that potential. If indeed it does materialize it should not amount to much. I will monitor the trends over the next 24 hours.
The plunge is brief though as highs are back in the 40s Friday and into the low 60s Saturday. That's due to a storm which will bring us our next chance of precipitation. You can see at 500mb it has a fairly dynamic look with a closed low and some nice divergence.
A well organized surface slow is also supported by all model guidance. There's snow and ice to the northwest and showers and thunderstorms to the southeast of the circulation center.
By now the upper level flow has turned southwest ahead of the advancing mean trough allowing moisture and warmth to spread into my area. Below you can see much of my area Saturday has a crack at highs in the range of 60-65.
Dew points also surge into the mid to upper 50s indicating a nice plume of moisture.
The warmth and moisture will combine to create some instability and CAPE appears to be sufficient to support scattered showers and thunderstorms. Bulk shear could even be strong enough to kick up a couple strong storms Saturday afternoon, mainly over the south. That however is highly contingent on the amount of heating that's generated Saturday afternoon.
It's a long way out there but at least for now the EURO lightning density product shows a couple lines of convection
The set-up could also be supportive of some decent rains, particularly if we get active thunderstorms going. Here's what the GFS and EURO show for total precipitation from the weekend event.
Once this disturbance goes by the pattern takes on a colder look next week. In fact, snow is even a threat at some point as early as next Monday. This colder more wintry look was anticipated but how long the cold remains a factor is now in question. A few days ago the EURO and GFS (MJO) implied a phase 6 look mid-March which teleconnects to well above normal temperatures at that time. I mentioned this potential warmth in my posts late last we. Over the weekend, the GFS went completely rogue and looks nothing like it did 3 days ago. In fact, it has flipped to colder phases in that time frame. The EURO though remains more consistent and still indicates phases 6 and 7 which are mild in March. What I'm saying is that beyond 10 days there is a real fight going on regarding temperatures and the overall pattern that will impact the Midwest long range. As I said last week, when you project trends based on a forecast you open yourself up to these types of changes. All you can do is follow the trail and see where it leads. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
Either way, the pattern looks active and quite interesting going forward. I wouldn't expect anything less in March, a month known for its extremes and weather madness. Until next time, roll weather...TS
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