What’s this about an ‘unsettled pattern?’


Unsettled means what is says: nothing settled, a lack of stability.

When the forecast calls for an ‘unsettled pattern,’ two things should come to mind:

  • Occasional rain/storm potential
  • Uneven, ‘scattered’ areas of rain

Big, powerful storm systems are usually fairly easy to identify, track, and forecast. The bigger they are, the more we can learn about them. Smaller, weaker ‘disturbances’ (we won’t even call them ‘storms’) are lesser-known, harder to detect, and can lead to poor forecasting if we try to nail down too much detail too far in advance.

Starting with Monday, each day of next week – even through the weekend – will have a chance of some rain and thunderstorms.

Monday’s rain looks to come in late in the day (late afternoon through the evening), and it picks up overnight into Tuesday. That batch of wet weather is likely our ‘sure bet’ for the week. Rain looks likely Monday night to midday Tuesday, and total rainfall could be as high as 0.5″ to 1.0″ in that time frame.

After that, we’re under a jet stream pattern that brings a few waves of clouds and showers now and then from Wednesday through Friday and Saturday. The timing is all but impossible to work out this far in advance, so just be prepared for some now-and-again, on-and-off showers and occasional thunderstorms.

Total rainfall? We’re looking at around one inch of rain through the end of next week on average. Most of us will be around one inch or less; a few ‘outliers’ may get a lot more than one inch where a few locally-heavy downpours pass over the same location.

Futurecast (GFS) forecast rainfall through 3 PM Friday, March 13th

Severe weather on the horizon?

March is the beginning of the Spring tornado season in Alabama and Tennessee, and it does not take a powerful storm system to cause severe weather. Monday night’s set-up in Tennessee was not the kind in which you’d expect the catastrophic result from Nashville to Cookeville; it’s a stark reminder that we can forecast thunderstorm environments pretty well, but the impacts from an individual storm can be very different from the others around it.

Alabama tornadoes by month

As we look at next week’s ‘unsettled pattern,’ memories come back of unremarkable storm ‘systems’ that produced some remarkable results in a storm here and there. Those impactful storms sometimes brought hail, sometimes strong winds, and occasionally tornadoes.

Just because there’s no outlined threat from the Storm Prediction Center for next week does not mean we have no reason to be guarded.

Keep up with the forecast.

Download Live Alert 19 for iOS or Android and be sure you have a NOAA Weather Radio just in case a storm goes rogue!

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