Spring in full swing: Gorgeous weather, storms, then more gorgeous weather

/ April 16, 2019 at 8:02 AM

Spring has come into full swing here in the Lowcountry. After what was a fortunate severe weather non-event on Sunday, we had a much cooler and less humid Monday with highs topping out around 74° under plenty of sunshine. We get a repeat of that today as high pressure maintains control over our weather today through Thursday. Our next storm threat comes Friday, and may bring some strong winds to the area. Let’s dive in…

Gorgeous work week to continue for a few more days

Surface high pressure and ridging aloft will maintain control over the weather picture for the next few days. Temperatures today will still top out below normal as northeasterly winds keep the A/C on (so to speak) across the Lowcountry. As high pressure shifts eastward and eventually offshore, winds will turn more southerly. This will turn the heat pump back on, and in concert with the apex of ridging aloft, will send us back to the 80s for Wednesday and Thursday.

Along with the warmer air, some more moisture will return into the area starting Wednesday into Thursday. This will bring cloud cover up gradually ahead of our next storm system, and we could even see a few showers Thursday night.

Drought watch

Recent rainfall has been good for blunting — but not necessarily busting — the current drought. As of last week’s Drought Monitor, the Lowcountry remains in a moderate drought, with rainfall deficits running 5-7″ across much of the area.

Our next chance of rain comes overnight Thursday into Friday ahead of and along a cold front. Current forecasts show about .75″-1.00″ of rain will fall, most of it on Friday and then possibly a little bit more on Saturday as an upper low swings through the area. This will help us continue to chip away at the drought, but we’ll ultimately need a bit of a prolonged soaking to fully eliminate it.

Strong storms for Friday

Friday may also bring some strong to potentially severe storms with it. While the details are far from nailed down, there is enough confidence in at least some strong wind gusts that the Storm Prediction Center has outlooked us for a severe thunderstorm risk for Friday. There is pretty good agreement in the models that a strong upper low will swing through the Southeast Thursday through Saturday. The upper-level system will take on what is called a “negative tilt,” orienting it from northwest to southeast. This is a sign of a fairly energetic system, and ahead of it will lend plenty of upper-air support for numerous showers and thunderstorms. A squall line looks likely to take shape ahead of a cold front on Friday, and with strong winds both at the surface and aloft, it may not take much to bring some damaging wind gusts to the surface during the afternoon and evening hours. Given the proximity of the upper low, hail is certainly in the cards as well.

There are certainly mitigating factors. Several of the models are spitting out rainfall for Friday morning ahead of the main line; this usually — but not always — puts a real damper on any severe weather as the rains tend to stabilize the atmosphere some. (We saw this in action a bit on Sunday, too.) Winds out of the south will also help bring in more stable marine air at the surface; this too often is a kiss of death for significant storms for us in the Charleston metro. We will need to see just how far inland some of this marine air can make it, though.

What to do: Consider rain plans for your Friday outdoor activities, as that seems to be a pretty good bet given better upper-level support than we saw on Sunday. We are just now getting into range of some of the higher-resolution models, so that will help us fine-tune the forecast in the days to come. Stay tuned to forecast updates as we get those details nailed down.

For now, enjoy the nice weather!

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