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Submitted by Tim Buckley on Fri, 04/08/2011 - 8:19am.
Ahh yes, the weather forecast is no more important than when there's big outdoor events - and there are no events bigger in Wilmington than the Azalea Festival. Not surprisingly, Mother Nature is arriving right on cue with one of the trickier forecasts we've had to make in the last few months, making it a little harder to answer the "Hope it's good weather!" question than we would like. Let me explain...
See the weather setup we find ourselves in as we finish the workweek is not entirely unlike an early summer pattern. We find ourselves with high pressure anchored offshore, pumping warm moist air into the Southeast. In the summertime we call this a "Bermuda High" since it's usually positioned right around the island of Bermuda. With this pattern, you quickly start to build up two ingredients that you need to form some thunderstorms: heat, and humidity. The only other thing you need is a trigger.
What exactly is a trigger? Well for storms it can be a number of things, but it has to be some forcing in the atmosphere that makes air start to rise. Boundaries like fronts or sea breezes are perfect for this. Whenever you have a boundary, you have an area where air is converging - or colliding together. This usually results in some small scale rising air - exactly the "trigger" we need for storms to form.
Ok Mr. Meteorologist, but what does this have to deal with the Azalea Festival? Well -- we're going to find ourselves with one of those storm "triggers" later on tonight. A semi-stationary front will sag south into our region during the overnight hours Friday and stick around through Saturday afternoon. Heat - check, moisture - check, trigger - check. Now we have the ingredients to make ourselves a few storms.
So why aren't we forecasting washouts? The good news here is that we don't have THAT much moisture already in place. In fact, what we expect to happen is that storms will form somewhere well to the west of us this afternoon - and be carried by that stationary front into the Wilmington area overnight. That's why we could see one or two showers while you're sleeping. Really though, it's a small chance.
By the time the parade rolls around things will begin to improve. The chances for showers will really tail off quickly, and we should just see some partly cloudy skies for that 9am - 12pm time frame. During the late afternoon, it's possible that a couple of storms will form and head our way, but it's still a small chance - so we're calling for a fairly nice day.
By Sunday, this "trigger" of a front dissolves and we'll really see an end to the rain chances. Not only that, but the heat will ramp up too - with temperatures possible in the mid and high 80's inland. Good news for those lemonade vendors at the street fair!
Speaking of the street fair, us News Team'ers will be out there all weekend at the WWAY booth near the Diligence. Stop by and say hello if you get the chance! From what I hear, you can even try out your luck on the green screen! I'll be there Sunday afternoon with Jerry from 3-5.
Enjoy the festival! Hope it's good weather!! : )
By: Tim Buckley