Two chances for rain this week after hot, dry 4th of July weekend

After a hot and dry Fourth of July weekend, rain is needed even more in the days ahead. Well, I may just have some good news in that department as we have TWO chances for rain this week.

Before you start jumping for joy, just understand that this is far from a sure thing and won’t be any sort of a drought buster, but at least there is some hope on the horizon.

The two storms will be rolling in from the west, the first of which is likely to move through Tuesday as it pushes in from around Yellowstone Monday afternoon. This one is likely to bring at least a little rainfall to everyone. But just like any other summertime system, some areas could get deluged, while others get next to nothing. That is just the reality of summer time rains. Why?

Well, the atmosphere has a lot of heat and instability in the summer. When combined with copious amounts of moisture at many levels of the atmosphere, it can lead to very heavy rain inside thunderstorms. But, these thunderstorms can only get so big and often times these heavy downpours only accompany a few square miles at a time. 

Now you can get dozens of thunderstorms to form and cluster together at the same time, but even then, neighbors just blocks away can have substantially different rainfall totals when these storms go by. Because of this, the atmosphere just isn’t conducive for widespread, long lasting, slow and methodical rains like we can get in the spring and fall. This is essentially where the term "when it rains, it pours" comes from. Because in the summer, the atmosphere is so hot that it will either pour or it just won’t rain at all.

So, back to our set up this week. Tuesday’s storm goes by, and then we have another possible storm that could arrive Friday. But there is a lot more uncertainty where this one ends up. 

First off, it’s a cut off low, meaning that it is cut off from the steering current in the atmosphere. So it has to get "picked up" by the jet stream and then move over Minnesota for us to get wet. Forecasting these is tricky because depending on when and how the jet stream "picks up" this storm will have large impacts on where it goes. 

Second, we have a wild card in play. Just like a card game, the atmosphere can have wild cards that sort of "bend the rules" and throws the whole system out of control. Well, for the atmosphere, those wild cards are often tropical systems. When these make landfall anywhere in the U.S. they have direct impacts on what happens will all of the other storms across the country. They either slow down, change direction, or sometimes dissipate altogether. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know for sure how these tropical systems will affect the rest of the weather around it. This makes forecasting even more challenging.

So the take away: all of us have a really good chance to get at least a little rainfall on Tuesday, but locally heavy totals are possible, especially where thunderstorms can develop. Then, Friday’s rainfall is a coin toss at this point. We could certainly end up with some beneficial rains, but then again, many of us may not get anything at all. However, we’ll know more as the day gets closer and when Elsa makes landfall along the Gulf Coast.

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