Winter arrives warm, wet, windy

djournal-weather-stormyBy Errol Castens

Daily Journal

Winter begins at 11:11 this morning, but its arrival is anything but seasonal.

Heavy rains, potentially damaging winds and unseasonably warm temperatures are expected today. If the predicted high of 76 occurs in Tupelo, it will break the date’s old record of 74, which was set in 1967.

The heaviest rains – 3 to 5 inches, with locally heavier amounts possible – are expected to be well north of Memphis, but most of Northeast Mississippi is expected to see from 1.5 to 2 inches.

The bigger threat for this area is wind: A wind advisory goes into effect at 9 a.m. and is expected to end at midnight tonight.

“A wind advisory means that sustained winds of 25 to 39 miles per hours are expected, or gusts will range between 40 and 57 miles per hour,” the National Weather Service statement said. “Winds this strong can make driving difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles. Use extra caution.”

Since most of the winds will be from the south, driving will be most difficult on east-west highways.

NWS personnel also advise that loose outdoor items such as patio and porch furniture be secured or stored indoors and that individuals working on elevated, wind-exposed surfaces “use extreme caution.”

Tornadoes are also a possibility.

“We’re expecting the potential for significant damaging winds as well as tornadoes,” said Jonathan Howell, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Memphis. “We are expecting severe weather to impact the Mid-South, especially during the afternoon and evening hours on Saturday.”

The three-month outlook for the southern tier of the U.S., according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, shows no strong trend for either above- or below-normal precipitation. Computer models show roughly a one-in-three chance for above-normal temperatures throughout the upcoming winter.

errol.castens@journalinc.com