A cold start and a wet ending could be in store for the Masters Tournament.
Long-range forecasters said Monday that progressive weather patterns prevent them from promising a completely dry and warm week at Augusta National Golf Club during April 8-14.
National, state and local forecasters continue to work on their predictions, but Kristina Pydynowski, the senior meteorologist at AccuWeather, said early reports suggest that Masters Week will open with below-average temperatures during the practice rounds and gradually get warmer as the tournament tees off April 11-14.
Pydynowski said “there is definitely a chance of rain,” but had some trouble pinpointing when and how a thunderstorm system – expected to hit Augusta the second week of April – would affect the tournament.
The North American Farmers’ Almanac, however, says it has a good handle on what the future holds, already predicting “rain for much of the Southeast” for April 11-15, specifically for the final round.
“We will fine-tune the details as we get closer, but unfortunately at this time, we cannot promise a dry Masters,” Pydynowski said.
Data show that in the past five years temperatures at Augusta National have been both below freezing and above 90 degrees; wind speeds have reached 15 mph; and fog, drizzle, thunder and rain have been recorded.
Pydynowski said temperatures average 76-77 degrees during Masters Week, but Bill Murphey, a climatologist at the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, said long-range forecasts have a “high degree of uncertainty and low confidence level” that precedes them.
For example, Murphey cited a one-month outlook by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center that calls for below-normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures for east-central Georgia. He said he looked at one weather model Monday that shows a storm system moving into Augusta on April 4, with rainfall ending April 6-10, a day before the tournament officially opens.
By any account, Pydynowski said golfers, caddies and spectators should remember their raincoats and umbrellas and stay tuned to weather reports and consult emergency shelter tips before heading to the course.
Murphey said much of the region was under a wind advisory Monday – with sustained northwest-moving gusts of 23 to 35 mph and a high-pressure stream should dominate until Sunday, when mild to moderate rainfall is expected.
Murphey said local residents and Masters enthusiasts should remember the one- to three-day rule.
“Normally, forecasts made 24 hours to three days in advance are pretty accurate,” Murphey said. “Beyond that is where is where the uncertainty starts to rise.”