Know your thunderstorm types
A cold front will clash with warm temperatures after trick-or-treaters finish their treks on the Mississippi Coast. But the severe weather that will follow is likely to bring scary, noisy weather.
The weather forecast calls for the possibility of severe thunderstorms starting just after midnight Wednesday. The storms could produce tornadoes, damaging straight-line winds and hail, continuous lightning and will lead to lower temperatures by overnight Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in New Orleans/Baton Rouge.
An enhanced risk is forecast along and west of I-59 north from Poplarville to Belle Chasse and the Houma, La., line and along and north of Interstate 10, a weather report update says. An enhanced risk is the weather service’s third risk level. While the Coast may have scattered thunderstorms, the upper region may have numerous and more intense storms.
“The main interest will be the weather associated with the cold front,” the weather service said in a Wednesday update. Some individual cells are moving ahead of the squall line, which could be problematic, bringing “plenty of noise.” Activity ahead of the squall line is expected to bring heavy rainfall and continuous lightning.
There’s a slight risk of severe weather and excessive rainfall starting that will continue until around noon Thursday for all of South Mississippi and southeast Louisiana, according to the weather service. A slight risk is the second lowest of five risk levels the weather service uses in forecasts involving severe weather.
The Mississippi Coast may receive 2 to 4 inches of rain, resulting in flooding in low-lying areas, followed by cool, dry air.
The Coast will see wind gusts of up to 60 mph, said Brian Adams and Rupert Lacy, emergency management directors for Hancock and Harrison counties, respectively.
Aside from costumed children going door-to-door, at least eight Halloween festivities for children are planned for Wednesday night in Gulfport, Biloxi, D’Iberville, Ocean Springs, Pass Christian and Moss Point. The severe weather isn’t expected to affect trick-or-treating.
Hancock and Harrison counties can expect the heaviest rainfall on the Mississippi Coast, though a swath of heavy rain will likely head north through the central part of Mississippi.
The weather service advises anyone who must be out overnight to stay alert to weather warnings.
As much as a 70-percent chance of rain is forecast by late Wednesday night. The rain chance for Thursday is 100 percent, dropping to 20 percent Thursday night.
A small craft advisory has been issued from 7 p.m. Wednesday to 1 p.m. Thursday.
Time to grab a jacket
Highs in the mid-70s are expected Thursday, but overnight temperatures will drop to the mid-50s. Highs are forecast to reach the mid-60s Friday and drop to the low 50s Friday night.
By Saturday, daytime highs are expected in the low 70s, with an overnight low in the mid-50s.
Data from the Storm Prediction Center shows high confidence that a cold front coming from the north and mixing with the Coast’s warm temperatures will clash, causing the severe weather, Lacy said.
“When warm temperatures and a cold front clash, you have that potential for fall severe weather,” he said.
Hurricane season ends Nov. 30 even as the fall severe weather period has begun in Mississippi.
People tend to think that severe weather in Mississippi is just during hurricane season, Lacy said.
“In the past 10 years, we’ve had tornadoes the day of or day after Christmas,” Lacy said.
The state’s fall severe weather period runs from November through May, and brings an increased threat of tornadoes, he said. The threat for tornadoes is probably greater farther north of the Coast, he added.
Since 1950, 783 tornadoes in Mississippi have occurred during the fall severe weather period, causing an average of eight deaths and 108 people injured per year, the weather service says.
“That’s why it pays to put some fresh batteries in your weather radio this time of year and keep up with weather reports,” Lacy said.