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Rain and storms tonight, awesome holiday weekend weather, watching Tropical Storm Elsa closely.

Scattered showers and thunderstorms have been forming across parts of the area as early as the morning hours today, but we are tracking a much larger area of rain and thunder on Live VIPIR Radar this afternoon. Heavy rain and embedded thunderstorms stretch from West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, back through much of western Tennessee, and into Arkansas. These will be shifting southeastward through our area this evening and overnight. The good news is that none of these storms are expected to be severe, but locally heavy rainfall is a good likelihood.

Futurecast shows the general timing and evolution of the rain and storms as they move through the area overnight. There will likely be more than one round of locally heavy rain. Rain and storms shift south of our area during the morning to midday hours on Friday as the cold front moves into the area. Skies begin to clear with time in the afternoon, and despite being behind the cold front, temperatures still rebound into the low to mid 80s, but humidity will be dropping significantly.

This sets us up for a beautiful 4th of July weekend weatherwise, if you're staying here in the local area. Sunny skies are expected both Saturday and Sunday, and humidity levels will be substantially lower. Highs will be in the low to mid 80s and morning lows in the upper 50s to lower 60s. However, if you are headed toward the beach, the front that gives us our rain and storms tonight gets hung up down there along the coast over the weekend into next week. Widespread rain and storms are expected, making for yucky beach weather for the holiday weekend.

Beyond this, our attention is turning to Tropical Storm Elsa out in the Atlantic. Elsa will be crossing the Lesser Antilles and moving into the Caribbean on Friday, and then tracking westward through the Caribbean over the weekend. Elsa will have some struggles to overcome over the next few days, especially shear and the stronger low-level easterly trade winds in the eastern part of the Caribbean.

Where Elsa goes beyond this, as well as the intensity, is very much up in the air. A lot of this will come down to Elsa's intensity prior to approaching the longitude of Hispaniola Saturday. The weaker Elsa is over the next 24 to 36 hours, the more likely the system is to take a westerly track because it's not as tall in the atmosphere and will be more controlled by the low-level easterly trade winds. Also, a weaker system is less influenced by the Coriolis Force, which would want to turn the low pressure poleward (northward in the Northern Hemisphere). A stronger system over the next 36 to 48 hours would allow for a more northwesterly track toward Hispaniola and Cuba, but would increase the chances of interference from the mountains in those areas. Beyond that, the odds of the system staying east of the Gulf of Mexico would increase. However, a more westward/southward track through Saturday/early Sunday would increase the odds of Elsa not being weakened by mountains, and Elsa would have a better shot of getting into more favorable conditions for intensification before approaching the western half of Cuba (where the terrain is much lower and less destructive to tropical systems) and POSSIBLY into the Gulf of Mexico from there.

There's still a lot we have to work out in the coming days, but one important point to make right now is that, regardless of the eventual track... this will not have an impact on the Gulf Coast for the holiday weekend. Rain and storms down there, yes. However, you will not have to deal with a tropical storm or hurricane on the Gulf Coast this weekend.

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