Sunday Weather Blog: Thick Fog (East), Then Warming

By: Meteorologist Ray Hawthorne
By: Meteorologist Ray Hawthorne

One of the most underestimated and unappreciated aspects of the weather is dense fog and low cloud prediction. It is very difficult to do and I'm finding that out the hard way this morning. Local observations from the Madison, Valdosta and Live Oak areas have visibilities under 1/4 mile in thick fog. The first few visible satellite shots indicate that the low cloud bank covers almost our entire viewing area, except for a few pockets west of north of Tallahassee. We need to reach a temperature of about 60 degrees to begin mixing the much drier air a few hundred feet above the surface to the ground itself. That may take until 11 o'clock or noon in places. Once the sunshine breaks through, the thermometer ought to break through 70 in a hurry. We expect highs to reach the mid 70s today (but I'm a little worried that we won't get there if these clouds do not dissipate fast enough) and into the upper 70s Monday as a ridge builds over the Southeastern United States. There are hints from our locally-run WRF model that another bank of stratus and fog will develop late tonight and early Monday. Since the pattern isn't expected to change much, travelers and commuters should be prepared for it. Tuesday should end up nearly identical to Monday.

The models are in better agreement on the approach of the next cold front. The GFS and UKMET are looking more and more like yesterday's ECMWF. That means the shortwave trough will lift from the Southern Plains Tuesday to New England on Wednesday, leaving the cold front to stall out in our viewing area. With weakening large-scale dynamics, the best we can expect is a few showers Wednesday or Thursday. The next trough kicking out from the Western U.S. looks more formidable and should bring us a better chance of showers and storms between late Thursday and Friday.

I mentioned in yesterday's blog that the global models were forecasting a stormier pattern next weekend. That still stands today. In fact, the GFS and ECMWF are predicting a low pressure area to develop in the North-Central Gulf of Mexico next Saturday night, then tracking it across the Southeastern U.S. on Sunday. This sort of a low pressure track can favor severe weather if other ingredients are present. We'll keep watching it; stay tuned.

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