Beau Dodson's WeatherTalk Blog

October 16, 2015: Colder air arriving. First frost of the season?

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This forecast update covers far southern Illinois, far southeast Missouri, and far western Kentucky. See the coverage map on the right side of the blog.

Remember that weather evolves.  Check back frequently for updates, especially during active weather.

The forecast numbers below may vary a bit across the region.  These are the averages.


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Thursday night –  Scattered showers and thunderstorms.  Mostly on the light side.  Cloudy.  Some clearing towards morning.
Temperatures:  Lows in the upper 40’s to lower 50’s.
South winds becoming southwest winds at 5 mph.
My confidence in this part of the forecast verifying is high
Should I cancel my outdoor plans?  
Is severe weather expected?  No
What is the chance for precipitation?   60%-70%
Coverage of precipitation?  Scattered coverage
What impact is expected?
  No impacts other than lightning.


Friday – A few clouds, especially in the morning.  Otherwise, sunshine.  Cool.
Temperatures:  Highs ranging  from 66 to 72.
  North/northwest winds at 5-10 mph.
My confidence in this part of the forecast verifying is high
Should I cancel my outdoor plans? 
Is severe weather expected?  No

What is the chance for precipitation? 1
0% in the morning
Coverage of precipitation?  Perhaps isolated sprinkle.
What impact is expected?  No impacts.


Friday night –  Lower than normal confidence on low temperatures for Friday night.  Becoming mostly clear.  Can not rule out frost on Friday night.  Perhaps a better chance on Saturday night.
Temperatures:  Lows in the 34 to 42 degree range
Northwest winds at 5 mph.
My confidence in this part of the forecast verifying is low to high
Should I cancel my outdoor plans?  
Is severe weather expected?  No
What is the chance for precipitation?   0%
Coverage of precipitation?  None
What impact is expected?
  No impacts.


Saturday – Mostly sunny and chilly.
Temperatures:  Highs in the upper 50’s to lower 60’s
  North winds at 6-12 mph.
My confidence in this part of the forecast verifying is high
Should I cancel my outdoor plans? 
Is severe weather expected?  No

What is the chance for precipitation?
Coverage of precipitation?  None
What impact is expected?  No impacts.


Saturday night –  Mostly clear.  Chilly.  Frost possible.  Monitor updates if you have concerns.
Temperatures:  Lows from 32 to  38 degrees.
Winds becoming calm.
My confidence in this part of the forecast verifying is high
Should I cancel my outdoor plans?  
Is severe weather expected?  No
What is the chance for precipitation?   0%
Coverage of precipitation?  None
What impact is expected?
  Perhaps some frost to contend with.


Sunday – Mostly sunny and pleasant.
Temperatures:  Highs in the lower 60’s.
  Northeast winds at 5-10 mph.
My confidence in this part of the forecast verifying is high
Should I cancel my outdoor plans? 
Is severe weather expected?  No

What is the chance for precipitation?
Coverage of precipitation?  None
What impact is expected?  No impacts.


Sunday night –  Mostly clear.
Temperatures:  Lows ranging from 38 to 44 degrees.
Northeast/east winds at 5 mph.
My confidence in this part of the forecast verifying is high
Should I cancel my outdoor plans?  
Is severe weather expected?  No
What is the chance for precipitation?   0%
Coverage of precipitation?  None
What impact is expected?
  No impacts.


Monday – Mostly sunny and pleasant.
Temperatures:  Highs in the upper 60’s.
  Southeast winds at 5-10 mph.
My confidence in this part of the forecast verifying is high
Should I cancel my outdoor plans? 
Is severe weather expected?  No

What is the chance for precipitation?
Coverage of precipitation?  None
What impact is expected?  No impacts.


Monday night –  Clear and cool.  Pleasant for October.  Patchy fog possible.
Temperatures:  Lows ranging from 48 to 54 degrees.
South winds at 5 mph
My confidence in this part of the forecast verifying is high
Should I cancel my outdoor plans?  
Is severe weather expected?  No
What is the chance for precipitation?   0%
Coverage of precipitation?  None
What impact is expected?
  No impacts.


Tuesday – Mostly sunny and nice.
Temperatures:  Highs in the upper 60’s to lower 70’s
  South winds at 5-10 mph.
My confidence in this part of the forecast verifying is high
Should I cancel my outdoor plans? 
Is severe weather expected?  No

What is the chance for precipitation?
Coverage of precipitation?  None
What impact is expected?  No impacts.



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An explanation of what is happening in the atmosphere over the coming days…


1.  Colder air arriving for Friday into the weekend
2.  First frost potential of the season.  Friday night and Saturday night
3.  Storm system expected next Wednesday or Thursday
4.  NOAA releases their winter forecast

A cold front will sweep through the region on Thursday night and Friday morning.  The cold front will be accompanied by some clouds and perhaps some showers here and there.  Light rain showers likely along the front.  A bit more coverage than anticipated.  A few thunderstorms will also be possible on Thursday evening.  Mainly over southeast Missouri.

Temperatures on Friday will likely remain in the 60’s.  By Friday night we will watch the thermometer drop into the 30’s over parts of southern Illinois and northwest Kentucky.  Perhaps upper 30’s over the rest of the region.  Around 40 degrees along the Kentucky/Tennessee border.

There could be some patchy frost as early as Friday night/Saturday morning over our northern counties.  That would include the I64 corridor.  Further south we should be safe from widespread frost.

By Saturday we will be well entrenched in the cooler/cold air mass.  High temperatures may not get above 60 degrees.  This is well below normal by October standards.  Normal high temperatures are still in the 70’s for this time of the year.

The coldest air of the season arrives on Saturday night and Sunday morning.  Church goers might have some frost on their windshields on Sunday morning.  Expect low temperatures to dip into the lower to middle 30’s over much of the region.  Middle to upper 30’s for our western and far southern counties.  That would include the Poplar Bluff area and then into the Bootheel of Missouri.  The coldest air will likely be over southern Illinois and parts of western Kentucky.

A light freeze can’t be ruled out across the I64 corridor.  Widespread frost elsewhere.  This might be a killing frost for some of our counties.  A killing frost could complicate our dry pattern.  If weeds and other grass die then the fire risk will increase.  Abnormally dry conditions to drought prevail over much of the area.

Here is the jet stream map for Saturday.  See how our air is coming from Canada?  Cold air.  Jet stream dips.  Image is from


Watch what happens to the jet stream late next week.  We see our upper level wind flow is no longer coming out of the north.  It is coming out of the southwest.  Might we finally see some rain next week?  Maybe.




Let’s look at the new drought monitor maps.  I mentioned over the last few days that I suspected some of our counties would be added to the drought category.  And, that has happened.

I will break this up into states.  The yellow color represents abnormally dry conditions, but not quite drought.  The tan color represents the first stages of drought.  Moderate drought.  This graphic below shows you the scale.



As you can see from the maps below, moderate drought now covers quite a few counties in our local region. 


The map below shows several southeast Missouri counties in moderate drought conditions.  Quite a bit of abnormally dry conditions, as well.




The map below shows mostly abnormally dry conditions over parts of Illinois.  Perhaps one or two counties in moderate drought.




The map below shows much of western Kentucky in moderate drought conditions.





A few counties in northwest Tennessee are now considered moderate drought.




The bad news is that no significant rain is in the forecast through at least next Tuesday.

I am watching a storm system that should swing into our region on Wednesday or Thursday of next week.  This cold front might set the stage for some showers and thunderstorms.  However, we have seen this before in the long range data.  But, it ends up being drier than forecast once the front actually arrives in our local area.  Let’s keep an eye on it.

I know some of you are asking me about next weekend.  There is a wild card in the forecast late next week.  A possible tropical storm or hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.  The setup looks favorable for a tropical event.  But, as we all know…models don’t handle tropical events in the short range very well.  Let alone the long range.  However, several indexes do point towards a possible event in the Gulf of Mexico next week.

What does that mean for our region?   Good question.  The track of the system would need to be monitored.  There is another cold front moving into our region late next week.  Could the two combine, as some models are showing?  Let’s keep an eye on this.

Let me show you some guidance maps.

This first map is for Saturday evening.  See the big H over Illinois and Indiana?  That is the Canadian high pressure center.  Cold air will be associated with the high pressure center.  The high will be moving east/southeast.



This next map is for Sunday night and Monday morning.  The high is shifting off to the east.  As the high shifts eastward our winds should start to turn out of the south.  Winds around high pressure are clockwise.  Thus, when an area of high pressure moves off to our east, our winds will turn around to the south.  We will warm a bit next week.   Thanks to the southerly wind flow.

The colder air will shift eastward on Sunday night.


Moving forward into the middle of next week.  This next map shows a cold front moving into our region.  Some green on the map.  One item of note, each run of the model is showing less and less precipitation.  This is a concern.  Seems to be the case with most cold fronts over the last couple of months.  Still early to know for sure.  This map is for Thursday morning.


Of most concern is what happens next.  See that red L on the map above (in the Gulf of Mexico).  It is close to the Mexican coastline.  That is a possible tropical storm or hurricane developing.  Low confidence as to how this all plays out.  But, the models keep showing it.  It is of concern.

This next map is for next Friday and Saturday.  A deep area of low pressure north of Minnesota (red L).  A cold front will trail back into the Missouri Valley.  Widespread rain and thunderstorms on this particular map.  Will this happen?  Boy, that is a long shot.  Models just don’t do all that well in the long range.

You can also see the red L in the Gulf of Mexico.  It is moving northward.  The front is tapping into deep moisture.

I am more confident in saying that there is potential for a couple of cold fronts next week.  One around Wednesday/Thursday and another towards next weekend.  Favorable conditions will exist for tropical development in the Gulf of Mexico.  What that means for our region will need to be monitored.  Might this end our drought?  That was one wild card in the late summer and fall forecast.  Tropical development that could bring rain into our region.

I will be watching the pattern.  The green represents rain.  The blue represents snow (in Canada).  Dark green would be heavier rain.  Yellow would be even heavier rain.


The bottom line is that I will be watching next weeks pattern closely.



NOAA has released their winter forecast.  I have been forecasting below normal temperatures for our region.  But, I have not banked on precipitation, just yet.  The long range cycle is still in the developing stages.  The long range cycle typically develops during October and November.  It is a repeating pattern that will last through the winter.  Until we know what that cycle looks like then making a long range forecast for December into March is difficult, at best.

I am concerned about our dry weather.  October has been dry, thus far.  Not the best way to start out the next cycle.  However, we still have 4-6 more weeks to go.  Will the weather become more active during that time period?  Frequent cold fronts and frequent precipitation would be a strong clue as to what will happen in December-March.

Here is what NOAA said today.

This first map is their temperature outlook.  They are forecasting above normal temperatures across the northern United States.  In other words, the odds favor above normal temperatures.  The blue area, to our south, represents below normal temperatures.

I would have brought the blue further north into our region.  It is my forecast opinion that we will have a colder than normal winter.  That is when December into early March is averaged out.  That does not mean every month will be colder than normal.  It simply means the odds favor it averaging out to below normal.  We will see how it goes.

I base those ideas off the warm waters off the West Coast of the United States.  The last few winters have provided us with a lot of cold air.  If the high pressure in Canada shifts into western Canada then we will have plenty of cold air.

Our region is in white.  What is NOAA saying about our region?  They are saying there is a 50/50 chance for above or below normal temperatures.


Let’s look at NOAA’s precipitation forecast.  They are forecasting the southern United States to have a wetter than normal winter.  Drier than normal for much of the northern United States into the Great Lakes.  As I have said before, I am not ready to bank on a precipitation outlook.

Our region is in white.  What is NOAA forecasting for our region?  They are saying a 50/50 chance for above or below normal precipitation.


Remember, forecasters can’t actually tell you what you really want to know. How much snow will fall at my location. Will we have an ice storm. How many winter storms will impact our region.  If someone tells you that it is going to snow 8″ on January 15th then take it with a grain of salt.  Trust me, no forecaster can accurately forecast specific weather events months in advance.  Key word being specific.

We can have a drier than normal winter and a colder than normal winter and still be slammed by one or two big winter storms.

For the most part, our region experiences a couple of winter storms each year. Last year the winter was boring, until it wasn’t. The two big winter storms occurred on February 16th and March 5th.  And, many will never forget those two events.  November into January was fairly calm.

No matter what winter forecast you read, there isn’t a method of forecasting the big events. The events that matter.  Not months in advance, at least.  We do well to forecast them a few days in advance, let alone months in advance.

Forecasters do fairly well with general over/under forecasts. Warmer than normal/colder than normal. Wetter than normal/drier than normal. But, that really does not tell the story of winter. That does not tell you what you really are wondering.  Thus, is the nature of long range forecasting.   Maybe one day it will improve.

I will add the above maps to the winter forecast further down in the blog.  Let’s keep watching the pattern unfold over the coming weeks!




Saturday morning lows


Sunday morning lows

Some data indicates we may be a few degrees colder than these numbers.  Tough call.  I will leave it alone for now.  Outcome will be the same.




Temperature forecast for Thursday and Friday

Friday morning low temperatures


Friday high temperatures


Saturday morning low temperatures


Saturday high temperatures


Sunday morning low temperatures


Sunday afternoon high temperatures



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Added showers for Thursday night.  Scattered to numerous.


No significant weather into early next week.  Frost possible Friday night and especially Saturday night.  Sensitive plants might have issues.

Patchy fog possible during the morning hours.



No action required with this forecast.  Maybe a few mornings with patchy fog.

Might want to protect sensitive plants on Friday and Saturday night. 



The wild card will be low temperatures on Friday and Saturday night.   I am thinking some spots will dip low enough on Saturday morning for frost.  That would most likely be over our northern counties.  Closer to I-64 perhaps.  Then a widespread frost is likely on Sunday morning.  Whether someone will experience a light freeze is questionable.  And, that will be our wild card.



Watching Friday night and Saturday night for frost potential.  Especially Saturday night.


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How much precipitation should we expect over the next few days?

Light totals on Thursday night.  0.01″-0.10″ in a few spots.



Can we expect severe thunderstorms over the next 24 to 48 hours?  Remember that a severe thunderstorm is defined as a thunderstorm that produces 58 mph winds or higher, quarter size hail or larger, and/or a tornado.

Thunderstorm threat level will be ONE on Thursday night and ZERO on Friday through Sunday. 

Thursday night:  Thunderstorms are possible.  Mainly over southeast Missouri.
Friday:  Severe weather is not anticipated.
Saturday:  Severe weather is not anticipated.
Sunday:  Severe weather is not anticipated.
Monday:  Severe weather is not anticipated.
Tuesday:  Severe weather is not anticipated.
Wednesday:  Monitoring for some thunderstorms on Wednesday or Thursday




I also set up a storm tracking page with additional links (use during active weather for quick reference)
Storm Tracking Tool Page



Let’s take a look at some winter data.  I will keep adding to this over the coming weeks.  

One of my big concerns is how dry September and October have been over our local counties.  This is a concern.  I do believe in repeating patterns.  Typically October and November set the stage for the winter.  Let’s hope we start picking up more precipitation than we have been.

Let me show you some NOAA data.  They basically make their winter forecast 100% based on El Nino.  Personally I don’t like that approach, but every forecaster has their own method.  I believe that every El Nino is unique and is certainly not the only factor in a winter forecast.

With that said here are some typical El Nino graphics

Strong southern jet stream.  I agree with that.  Potentially dry in our region.  I am unsure about that.


Then there is this map

What would a typical El Nino winter look like?  Above normal temperatures over the northern United States.  Below normal precipitation in and near our region.  Again, this is what NOAA puts out.


My thoughts below:

Keep in mind that seasonal forecasts are more for fun than anything else.  No meteorologist can forecast details for the winter.  Will we have one big snowstorm?  Will we have a couple of big snow events?  It is the details that you care about.  The details can’t be forecast.

However, with that said…meteorologists can forecast some general ideas for an upcoming season.

As you may have read, I am leaning towards a colder than normal winter.  But, I am struggling with precipitation.  A powerful southern jet stream is forecast for the winter months.  We typically have two branches of the jet.  A northern branch and a southern brand.  That southern branch can produce some nasty weather conditions…including heavy snow, ice, and severe weather.

But, the real question will be the placement of the southern branch in relation to the northern branch.  When the two combine you can experience some of your bigger snowstorms.

The models are showing a drier than normal winter for our region.  Below normal precipitation.  Hopefully this won’t be the case.  I don’t like to enter spring in drought.  We have already experienced drier than normal conditions over Kentucky and Tennessee over the past month or so.  October has been dry, thus far.  And, that looks to continue.

Normally we start thinking about severe weather around the third and fourth week of October.  Also, we typically have one or two severe weather episodes in November.  Too soon to know if that will occur this year.

I am watching a storm system around the 14th-20th.

Back to the winter discussion…

A lot of models are showing below normal temperatures for our region.  Let me show you a few charts.

These particular forecast maps are from a Canadian model.  Images are from Tropical Tidbits.

This first map is for December.  The blue indicates lower than normal 500 mb heights.  The red indicates above normal heights.  Lot of blue across the southern United States.  That could be an indication of stormy weather.


This next map is for January


This next map is for February


This next map is for March


Let’s take a look at temperature anomaly maps

This first map is for December.  Blue colors represent below normal temperatures.  I am thinking this could be another back loaded winter.  Perhaps the harshest winter conditions will be in February and March.  Same as last year.


Here is the January temperature anomaly map from this particular model guidance.


This next map is for February.  That is a very cold look for February.


And, let’s take at look at March.


So, what does this mean?

Again, long range forecasting is more for fun than anything else.  But, the charts do point towards a cold winter for our region.  Perhaps the coldest part of the winter will be February into March.  Or, the worst winter conditions will be during that time.

Again, this is just one set of data.  There are a lot of other data sets to look over.

I like to move through the Month of October before banking on a winter forecast.

Let’s keep monitoring.


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Here are the current river stage forecasts.   You can click your state and then the dot for your location.  It will bring up the full forecast and hydrograph.

Click Here For River Stage Forecasts…

Here are some current forecast hydrographs.  These will be updated each day with new information.

Smithland Lock and Dam

Paducah, Kentucky Forecast Stage

Cairo, Illinois

Cape Girardeau, Missouri



We have regional radars and local city radars – if a radar does not seem to be updating then try another one. Occasional browsers need their cache cleared. You may also try restarting your browser. That usually fixes the problem. Occasionally we do have a radar go down. That is why I have duplicates. Thus, if one fails then try another one.

If you have any problems then please send me an email


We also have a new national interactive radar – you can view that radar by clicking here.

Local interactive city radars include St Louis, Mt Vernon, Evansville, Poplar Bluff, Cape Girardeau, Marion, Paducah, Hopkinsville, Memphis, Nashville, Dyersburg, and all of eastern Kentucky – these are interactive radars. Local city radars – click here

NOTE:  Occasionally you will see ground clutter on the radar (these are false echoes).  Normally they show up close to the radar sites – including Paducah.

Regional Radar – Click on radar to take you our full radar page.


Regional Radar


Live Lightning Data – zoom and pan:  Click here
Live Lightning Data with sound (click the sound button on the left side of the page): Click here


I also set up a storm tracking page with additional links (use during active weather for quick reference)
Storm Tracking Tool Page


Current WARNINGS (a warning means take action now). Click on your county to drill down to the latest warning information. Keep in mind that there can be a 2-3 minute delay in the updated warning information.

I strongly encourage you to use a NOAA Weather Radio or warning cell phone app for the most up to date warning information. Nothing is faster than a NOAA weather radio.

Color shaded counties are under some type of watch, warning, advisory, or special weather statement.  Click your county to view the latest information.

Missouri Warnings

Illinois Warnings

Kentucky Warnings


Here is the official 6-10 day and 8-14 day temperature and precipitation outlook.  Check the date stamp at the top of each image (so you understand the time frame).

The forecast maps below are issued by the Weather Prediction Center (NOAA).

The latest 8-14 day temperature and precipitation outlook.  Note the dates are at the top of the image.  These maps DO NOT tell you how high or low temperatures or precipitation will be.  They simply give you the probability as to whether temperatures or precipitation will be above or below normal.


Who do you trust for your weather information and who holds them accountable?

I have studied weather in our region since the late 1970’s.  I have 37 years of experience in observing our regions weather patterns.  My degree is in Broadcast Meteorology from Mississippi State University and an Associate of Science (AS).  I am currently working on my Bachelor’s Degree in Geoscience.

My resume includes:

Member of the American Meteorological Society.

NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador. 

Meteorologist for McCracken County Emergency Management.

I own and operate the Southern Illinois Weather Observatory.

Recipient of the Mark Trail Award, WPSD Six Who Make A Difference Award, Kentucky Colonel, and the Caesar J. Fiamma” Award from the American Red Cross

In 2009 I was presented with the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety Award. 

Recognized by the Kentucky House of Representatives for my service to the State of Kentucky leading up to several winter storms and severe weather outbreaks.

I am also President of the Shadow Angel Foundation which serves portions of western Kentucky and southern Illinois.

There is a lot of noise on the internet.  A lot of weather maps are posted without explanation.  Over time you should learn who to trust for your weather information.

My forecast philosophy is simple and straight forward.

  • Communicate in simple terms
  • To be as accurate as possible within a reasonable time frame before an event
  • Interact with you on Twitter, Facebook, and the blog
  • Minimize the “hype” that you might see on television or through other weather sources
  • Push you towards utilizing wall-to-wall LOCAL TV coverage during severe weather events

I am a recipient of the Mark Trail Award, WPSD Six Who Make A Difference Award, Kentucky Colonel, and the Caesar J. Fiamma” Award from the American Red Cross.  In 2009 I was presented with the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety Award.  I was recognized by the Kentucky House of Representatives for my service to the State of Kentucky leading up to several winter storms and severe weather outbreaks.

If you click on the image below you can read the Kentucky House of Representatives Resolution.


Many of my graphics are from – a great resource for weather data, model data, and more



You can sign up for my AWARE email by clicking here I typically send out AWARE emails before severe weather, winter storms, or other active weather situations. I do not email watches or warnings. The emails are a basic “heads up” concerning incoming weather conditions.

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