Welcome to Missouri, where we have can have unseasonable warmth, freezing rain, snow, heavy rain, hail, and tornadoes all in the same 7-day forecast.
First, the good news: Two storm systems are poised to bring much-needed rain over the next few days. The computer models are showing colors that we haven't seen in quite some time. Here's the 5 day rainfall projection:
Cape Girardeau is in the 2-3 inch zone. Keep in mind that during 2012, we typically received less rain than what the computer models advertised. But maybe 2013 will be different and we can break out of the drought cycle.
The rain should help keep the Mississippi River from dropping even more, which is good news for barge operators. However, very little rain is expected upstream from St. Louis, so the river is not going to jump back to normal levels anytime soon.
The heaviest rain should come Thursday and again on Saturday. This is the official forecast for Cape Girardeau:
TODAY: CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE MID 50S. NORTH WINDS 5 TO 10 MPH.
TONIGHT: MOSTLY CLOUDY. A CHANCE OF RAIN IN THE EVENING THEN RAIN AND A SLIGHT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS AFTER MIDNIGHT. LOWS IN THE LOWER 40S. TEMPERATURE STEADY OR SLOWLY RISING AFTER MIDNIGHT. NORTHEAST WINDS 10 TO 15 MPH. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 90 PERCENT.
THURSDAY: SHOWERS AND A CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 60S. EAST WINDS 10 TO 15 MPH. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION NEAR 100 PERCENT.
THURSDAY NIGHT: SHOWERS AND A CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS. LOWS IN THE LOWER 50S. SOUTH WINDS 10 TO 20 MPH. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 90 PERCENT.
FRIDAY: PARTLY SUNNY. HIGHS IN THE MID 60S. SOUTH WINDS 10 TO 15 MPH.
FRIDAY NIGHT: PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF SHOWERS. LOWS IN THE LOWER 50S.
SATURDAY: MOSTLY CLOUDY. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS IN THE MORNING THEN A CHANCE OF SHOWERS AND A SLIGHT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS IN THE AFTERNOON. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 60S. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 50 PERCENT.
SATURDAY NIGHT: RAIN SHOWERS LIKELY AND A SLIGHT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS IN THE EVENING...THEN RAIN LIKELY AND A CHANCE OF SNOW AFTER MIDNIGHT. LOWS IN THE MID 30S. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 70 PERCENT.
And now, the bad news: The system on Thursday has a small potential to bring severe thunderstorms. In this morning's discussion, the Paducah NWS office states:
WIND FIELDS WILL BE STRENGTHENING THROUGHOUT THE DAY THURSDAY... AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF WEAK SURFACE BASED INSTABILITY MAY POSE A SHORT-LIVED HAIL OR DAMAGING WIND CONCERN THURSDAY EVENING... ESPECIALLY OVER SOUTHEAST MISSOURI...FAR WESTERN KENTUCKY...AND THE EXTREME TIP OF SOUTHERN ILLINOIS. CANNOT COMPLETELY RULE OUT AN ISOLATED SHORT-LIVED TORNADO EITHER GIVEN THE PAIRING OF STRONG LOW LEVEL SHEAR AND MARGINAL INSTABILITY.
And more bad news: You may have noticed that the Saturday night forecast mentions "snow." That's only the beginning. The unseasonable warmth will be replaced by much colder air arriving Saturday night, potentially setting the stage for the "F" word: freezing rain. Notice how many times the "F" word appears in the official extended forecast:
SUNDAY: PARTLY SUNNY WITH A 30 PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 30S.
SUNDAY NIGHT: MOSTLY CLOUDY. A CHANCE OF RAIN FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET IN THE EVENING...THEN A CHANCE OF FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET AFTER MIDNIGHT. LOWS IN THE UPPER 20S. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 50 PERCENT.
MONDAY: PARTLY SUNNY. A CHANCE OF FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET IN THE MORNING...THEN A CHANCE OF RAIN AND SLEET IN THE AFTERNOON. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 30S. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 30 PERCENT.
MONDAY NIGHT: PARTLY CLOUDY WITH A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET. LOWS IN THE MID 20S.
TUESDAY: PARTLY SUNNY. A SLIGHT CHANCE OF FREEZING RAIN AND SLEET IN THE MORNING...THEN A SLIGHT CHANCE OF RAIN AND SLEET IN
THE AFTERNOON. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 30S. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 20 PERCENT.
Of course, this is still several days away, and we all know that the computer models will flip-flop many times. But next week could be ugly.
One last bit of bad news: The Nexrad radar in Paducah will be offline for roughly the next two weeks for an upgrade, which will make it harder to tracker these upcoming weather systems. (At least the St. Louis radar is available as a fallback.)