May has arrived, and even though the first couple days feel like early summer we're not there yet. A month of transition like this will usually have a few ups and downs before the heat and humidity sets in to stay. This week will provide us a good example of that.
First, a quick look back at April: We finished the month just slightly warmer than normal (0.6º above the 30-year average). And it was certainly wet, with our total winding up at 6.94", or 3.39" above average in what has tended in recent years to be a fairly dry month. Keep in mind, though, that more than half (52%) of that April rain fell on the first day of the month! At home, my gauge collected just a bit more, with the final tally coming in at an even 8.00". In either case it was a good April for gardens and lawns.
Now we're into May, a critical month for rainfall, since if we wind up in a summer drought it usually gets started in May. But if we can muster only average rainfall (on a regular basis and not all in one gulp) we should be in good shape heading into summer.
We do have a decent chance at picking up some good rain tonight and tomorrow. The persistent frontal system has lingered beyond its welcome off to our west for the last week, but now the pattern has shifted to give the system a kick to the east. Out ahead, a very muggy, warm air mass prevails for yet another day here in our corner of the U.S., so with an approaching cold front it's reasonable to expect at least some shower and thunderstorm development, especially once we warm up into the 80s this afternoon. A strong storm or two are possible, with our area in a marginal risk for high winds and hail. One good thing is - as mentioned in a post a week ago - we shouldn't have to be concerned about tornadoes anymore this spring, as the "Tornado Alley" has made its usual shift toward the Plains and Midwest. That doesn't exclude our area from seeing a renegade tornadic thunderstorm some day this month but certainly makes any significant outbreaks much less likely.
The front should be through here by late Tuesday, giving us another shot at showers ahead of and immediately behind the front. This time we will definitely see the cold front make it far enough through to allow a cooler, less humid air mass to take over the rest of the week, bringing cool mornings and pleasantly mild afternoons to go with blue skies and sunshine. Check in on our First Alert forecast for later updates and tweaks to the numbers.
This being May, though, any refreshing spell of seasonably cool weather won't last long, and a building upper ridge over next weekend will likely put highs back into the 80s along with bringing a return of humid Gulf air. My advice is to take advantage of this delightful weather coming later this week, since you can count on our regular hot, muggy summer to take over before too long.
Kurt Schmitz, Senior Meteorologist