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Is the tide turning on the drought? Yes and no.
Submitted by Tim Buckley on Mon, 06/13/2011 - 8:52am.
You could call it a "copy and paste" forecast - sunny, hot and dry for the last three weeks. That's been the story here in the Carolinas as high pressure has dominated the weather, bringing severe drought to the coast. But heading into this week, there are signs that we could finally at least see some significant rains headed out way.
Pattern Breaking Down
The reason we've been so dry over the past month has been a persistent "ridge" over the Eastern US. You can see how the Jet Stream soars to the north in the East on the map below.
This ridge is a large area of high pressure in the upper atmosphere. Not only does it bring warm air north, and keep us nice and hot - but it also prevents thunderstorms from forming for a couple of reasons.
One, it acts like a shield to deflect any storm systems from moving into the area - instead, they'll head north following the Jet Stream. Two, it prevents air from rising on a large scale here at home, so storms can't even form along a sea-breeze during the afternoons like they so often do here in North Carolina.
Bottom line, these ridges produce beautiful summer-time weather - but they're a killer if you're in the middle of a drought.
Stormier Days Ahead
Thankfully for us, that ridge finally broke down over the course of the weekend. Now, our weather pattern is beginning to change slightly. Looking at the Jet Stream below, you see some big differences.
Now, instead of a large ridge over the East, the Jet Stream has come a bit farther south. In fact, it's taking a dip over the Great Lakes and Mid Atlantic. This will kill the heat somewhat, and also guide storm systems down into the region. We'll also see an increased chance for "pop-up" storms during the afternoons with lower pressure in the area.
Heading into this week, a few significant storms will move in - especially for Thursday and Friday. Hopefully for us, we can squeeze out as much rain as we can.
Here's what a couple of models are thinking:
GFS Cumulative Precip through Thursday Afternoon:
The GFS Model shows the entire state seeing some measurable rain through Thursday PM, although it's modest in amount - only on the order of 1/2" - 3/4". But this does show the activity of our weather pattern increasing like we talked about.
WRF Cumulative Precip through Thursday Afternoon:
The WRF Model is much more bullish - and shows some really heavy storms moving along that Jet Stream path from time to time through Thursday PM. Some areas in this depiction could see up to 2.00" of rain. That's the kind of rain we need to start making a dent in the drought.
Root for the WRF Solution!
But Will it Last?
Looking at the long range trends, it looks like this weather pattern may only be lasting for a week to ten days or so. Once we get to the weekend, another monster ridge of high pressure will be building off to our west.
Some indications are that heading into Monday/Tuesday of next week, this ridge will come East and park itself - meaning more days of heat and dry weather.
We better squeeze out some rain now while we have the chance!
Thanks for reading! Have a good week!
By: Tim Buckley