Arctic air likely by the weekend and next week, uncertainty lingers

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Expect a good chance of rain tonight, and temperatures will bottom out in the upper 30s. There will be a good chance of rain Friday with highs in the low to mid 40s. I did raise the rain chance to 30% for the weekend. Highs will be in the mid 40s and lows in the low to mid 30s. There is a chance of freezing rain Monday, so we will keep you updated on that over the next few days.

The forecast for Saturday and Sunday looks difficult, especially in terms of temperature. The Arctic front will be slow-moving across the area and have a wide temperature gradient. For example, New Orleans and southeastern Louisiana could be in the 50s over the weekend, while the northwestern parts of the state could be in the 20s and 30s! For this reason, the exact location of the front is very important and models have been going back and forth. The best bet is to have highs somewhere in the 40s both Saturday and Sunday with a morning start near the freezing mark Sunday morning. Some sleet pellets could be possible Saturday night and Sunday morning as a wave of precipitation dies out across the area.

The main action appears to be on Monday as Arctic air continues to dive southward and a stronger upper-level system approaches the area. Both the GFS and European model, although they disagree on the severity of the cold, show this system moving through. With temperatures in the 30s on Monday, and falling below the freezing mark later in the day, we could see a chance for winter precipitation Monday evening/night. As of now, models show this precipitation in the form of sleet and/or freezing rain. Uncertainty remains high, however, as this system is still six days away.

The coldest morning, according to current model trends, will be Tuesday morning. Lows range from the 20s to near 10 degrees on some model runs! Global models, which see things on a broader scale, may be having trouble handling the sharp nature of the front. A difference of 50 miles in the location of the front will make a huge difference in terms of how cold certain locations get. These are finer details global models cannot peg down, especially six days out. Nonetheless, it appears pipe-busting cold will be a real possibility by the early parts of next week, so I’d get prepared for that scenario this week.

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