Late September Heat and the I.S.S.

Afternoon temperatures did make it well into the 90′s across a large part of Oklahoma this afternoon… 96+ over much of north central and western Oklahoma and even 100 degrees in a couple of spots.  In Okarche… the 94 degree high temperature fell three degrees short of the record.














I went to the roof for photography of the International Space Station as it made its flyby at 8:06 p.m.   It took about 2 1/2 minutes to cross the sky from the northwest to southeast.  I was happy to see and catch a flare as it first came into view left of the Big Dipper:

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I spun the camera around to catch the rest of the trip and fade as it slid between the Moon (68%) and Jupiter:

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But it’s fall?!?!

How can it be so warm?  One of the best situations to get rapid warming in Oklahoma this time of year is going to unfold today.  A strong cold front will be approaching from the north as a storm system lifts to the north of the Great Lakes.  In advance of this front… winds will veer around to the southwest bringing a warm and dry/downslope wind out of New Mexico and west Texas.   This is usually the only way temperatures in Oklahoma can reach 100 degrees this time of year.  While that may be a reach today… especially with all the recent rain and current greenness… temperatures should still warm to levels that will make you want to check the calendar and make sure it’s fall.  The afternoon high temperature in Okarche should come in just a few degrees below the record – at around 91 degrees.  In southwest Oklahoma… temperatures may well approach the 100 degree mark.  It will be dry, and the sun doesn’t have near the high angle or duration to make things as miserable as it would if it was July.  So, we can all call it a pleasantly warm day that will probably require the A.C. being turned on for a bit.  The front will come through tonight which will swing the winds to the north and bring our temperatures back down to near or below normal for Monday.  Below is a forecast map for 6 p.m.’ish Sunday afternoon which gives a visual description of how things should unfold.  I will update this post with a high temperature map later and we’ll see how well our forecast did.


Fall is here! Or, at least will be in a few hours…

But it already feels like it.  The first decent cold front of the season got here about 24 hours ahead of the calendar.  That’s still not too bad I suppose.  I woke up this morning to a chill in the air and the AC wasn’t even on.  52 degrees outside right now with cloudy skies, light rain and a brisk northwest wind.  Ahh yes, it’s a great time of year.  Fall officially begins at 4:18 p.m. this afternoon.  We will continue to lose at least a minute and a half of sunlight each day now through November 19th.  The color change is just around the corner… the high summer electric bills are done… and the yard will quit growing.  I love this time of year.

One of my many projects has been organizing my climate data.  Recently completed has been figuring daily rainfall averages for the period 1982-2008.  The result is seeing how we stack up to a normal year.  2009 started below normal and fell well below normal before rapidly making up ground over the past couple of months.  On September 12… we made it above normal for the first time this year.  Barely.  The bit of rain today should help us stay there for a few more days.  The following chart will soon be added and updated daily on my webpage:


Rain, no rain and climate data…


An upper level low pressure area that moved north through Texas has brought some heavy amounts of rainfall to Oklahoma during the past few days.  Okarche was one of the spots that took advantage of the tropical atmosphere and recorded a good deal of rain.  3.77 inches of rain has fallen during the past three days and light rain continues at this hour.  Most of that precipitation (3.51 inches) fell on the 12th, breaking a 20 year old record for the date by 0.01 of an inch.  This was also enough to make the top 10 list for daily rainfall (#9).   As one would expect, temperatures have been below normal through much of the first half of the month – 10 of 13 days.

Speaking of temperature normal’s – September is the first month that you will see a change in how the monthly climate data for Okarche is displayed.    Changes include the addition of daily temperature averages and departures from normal… as well as a little more detailed wind data.

While buckets of rain have fallen in several areas… some have not been as lucky.  In fact, downright unlucky if you wanted rain in places like western Logan County (about 20 miles to our northeast).  Radar rainfall estimates are not exact… they frequently come in too high and sometimes lower than the actual amount verified by rain gauges.  However, this rainfall event seemed to be handled very well – especially in Kingfisher and Canadian Counties where the radar beam from the Twin Lakes radar is about 3500 feet above the ground.  Actual observations from El Reno, Okarche and Kingfisher were very close to the radar estimates.  With that in mind… we can look with higher confidence at the data in the image above.  This estimate of rainfall shows some “hot spots” where rainfall likely reached five, six or even seven inches over the past few days close to Okarche.  It also shows the hit and miss nature of the heavier precipitation around places east of Okarche that have likely recorded less than 1/4 of an inch.

Nice and Mild… With a Little Smoke…

The high temperature today in Okarche was 87 degrees.  Significant in that this is the 11th day in a row where the temperature has not reached 90 degrees.  Almost unbelievable for late August and early September.  On August 31st… the low temperature reached 55 degrees which set a record for the month of August.


While it looks like we may warm up a little over the next few days… temperatures shouldn’t get out of hand.  Model data suggests a cooler and wetter late week and next weekend.  For all practical purposes, it looks like we can stick a fork in summer – as far as high heat goes.


Wildland fires in California over the past 10 days have produced a steady stream of high level smoke that found its way into the plains.  This created hazy afternoon skies… but brilliant sun and moon, sets and rises.  Attached are a few images taken during the past week…