I’ve been hammering the heat pretty hard over the last couple of months… only fair to mention a nice, cool morning.
A wedge of dry and cool surface air settled into the state from north central Oklahoma southwestward into Kingfisher and Canadian Counties. We woke up to 59 degrees this morning. You have to go back to May 27 to find a low temperature that cool when we dropped to 58 degrees. This was still well off the record of 53 degrees set one year ago, but we will take it. We have made it past 8 A.M. and there is still no hum of an air conditioner. Refreshing!
The eastward shifting in the track forecast of Irene has come to a halt and actually shifted back west just a bit as models get a better handle on what will steer the storm. With this in mind, it now appears that the eastern part of North Carolina is likely to take a pretty good blow from this storm starting at daybreak Saturday and continuing through the day.
Irene is not likely to increase above Cat 3 – but that is still a major storm and capable of inflicting significant wind damage/storm surge damage. Irene will be a life-threatening storm and people in eastern North Carolina should now be making preparations to leave or have extended shelter at the ready.
After the storm leaves North Carolina – it is not likely to be near as strong – but sufficiently strong nonetheless to inflict damage up the eastern seaboard toward New York and Boston. The approach of the storm will put these areas in a prime position to receive significant storm surges/flooding through many of the bays, harbors and inlets.
Irene looks pretty impressive on satellite tonight – with a small eye and large size of the overall hurricane:
The garden took a punch to the gut on Wednesday when the high temperature reached a record setting 111 degrees in Okarche. If the plants could talk, I think that something like “we thought it was over” would have been heard. Medium range guidance suggests that we won’t drop below the mid-90′s until around the 5th-7th of September. Basically, another couple of weeks of high A.C. and watering.
The high temperature this afternoon in Okarche was a record setting 108 degrees. This breaks the previous record of 106 degrees set last year. Also, the low temperature so far on the day has been 78 degrees – which is likely to be the low for the day – setting the record for the warmest low temperature. The previous record was 76 degrees set in 2007. We have extended the record of 100 degrees or greater days to 56.
Meanwhile in the tropical Atlantic. Irene continues to move slowly west-northwest passing to the north of Haiti – or just southwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands. While the intensity remains near 80 knots, a ragged but organizing eye feature is now evident on satellite and Irene may be getting ready to undergo a period of rapid intensification.
At first it looked like Florida was in trouble. Then South Carolina. Then North Carolina. Tropical model guidance over the past couple of days continued to shift the forecast track eastward and seems to have finally settled a bit. Despite the not-so-great upper level conditions, there is a lot of warm water for the hurricane to move across and a major hurricane (Cat 3 or 4) still seems possible. The most likely track now would have the eye coming close to the outer banks of North Carolina and then moving north northeastward near the coast with a landfall somewhere between North Carolina and Maine. A track such as this actually has the potential to create a lot of damage throughout a large area of the northeast prone to hurricanes. In fact, it could end up causing considerably more damage than if it would just slam into Florida or South Carolina and be done.
Guidance is however, guidance. And there are usually large errors when you get out to the four or five day range. Could be that a potentially deadly hurricane could turn sharp enough to the northeast to miss the U.S. all together… but I wouldn’t want to have a vacation planned to New York or Boston late this coming weekend.
A cluster of thunderstorms formed in western Oklahoma this evening and produced severe winds in a few areas. The Bessie Mesonet site recorded a wind to 78 mph. I caught up with the storms near Geary and grabbed a few close bangers – one that rattled my head pretty good. This year has turned out to be a good one with regard to the amount of lightning I have captured, but I am still having trouble finding good foreground subjects. Believe me, I’m looking. Old barns, houses, windmills – you name it – I have searched for it. So far, power poles seem to be the best I can find when I’m in the good lightning zones. Oh well.
Tropical Storm Irene continues to look better and better, but has only recently responded in the wind field and now has an intensity set at 60 knots. There will be very little time for Irene to become a hurricane before she starts to interact with Puerto Rico and skirts the Dominican Republic. Forecast models have fallen to the right side of the guidance envelope painted yesterday, and it now appears that she will slide just northeast of Cuba. This will keep the system over water a little longer and assuming that there is not a significant negative impact in the next 24-36 hours… we could still have a fairly strong hurricane sliding up the eastern Florida coast. The forecast track is becoming farther and farther away from Oklahoma and this storm is not likely to have any significant impact on our weather or systems affecting our weather.
Our high temperature of 100 degrees today extends the record number of days at or above 100 to 54.
Finally, we are getting ready to turn the page to August 22nd. We have been shaving off about two minutes of daylight each day now as we head toward fall. It “dawned” on me the other day that one of the reasons I don’t like July and August very much is because I don’t like morning sun. Sure, there is a sunrise or two that happen occasionally that is nice to look at, but I really just don’t like sun in the morning. The sun will rise tomorrow morning at 6:56 A.M. – which means that I will have already made my drive to work and will be sitting in our office with no windows. It’s going to be a long time now before I have to worry about staring into a sunrise on the way to work.
A strong tropical disturbance is located early this morning about 550 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. This system is showing just about every sign of wanting to intensify, and I would not be surprised to see at least a tropical depression if not a tropical storm form during the day Saturday. Environmental conditions are becoming more and more favorable for this system to eventually become a hurricane. The problem is with the forecast guidance tracks. The general consensus is to bring the system through the Antilles and into the northeast Caribbean Sea. This will be its best chance to intensify before it starts to interact with mountainous areas of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba. If the system does track over those areas, it will be hard to believe that it would have much punch left for Florida. However, it doesn’t take much of a wobble to get the center back over open water and the GFS solution of bringing a strong hurricane into Florida by Friday morning is not out of the question. Her name would be Irene.
If Irene does manage to become a force rolling up the east coast… one thing that could benefit us would be high pressure over the Great Lakes getting squeezed southwestward into the southern plains. A chance of precipitation and near or below normal temperatures would likely follow.
All of this is a long way off with a lot of specific solutions needing to happen before we get our cooler air… but it is definitely something to watch during the coming week.
By the way, the high in Okarche yesterday was 106 degrees which tied the record previously set in 2000. This is the 52nd day of 2011 with 100 degree or greater temperatures.
Well, this comes as little surprise. The high temperature in Okarche today reached 103 degrees. This is the 51st time this year for that to occur which breaks the old record of 50 days set in 1998. Many more 100 degree days are on the horizon – including tomorrow when the high may approach 108 degrees.
Thunderstorms formed this afternoon for a brief time in northwest Oklahoma. I took the short drive to north of Loyal and managed a couple of shots – neither of which were too impressive – but a way to kill some time on a hot afternoon.
Thunderstorms have become a regular part of Oklahoma weather during the month of August, which is sort of a surprise given the hot and dry summer we have had. In fact, 10 of the first 17 days of August have had thunder in Okarche – which has brought our yearly total to a near normal, 34 days.
Last evening, storms formed in northwest Oklahoma and moved southeastward – getting into Okarche just after sunset. While the lightning wasn’t nearly as impressive as events of the previous week, it was still worth the short drive for us. The images below were caught while sitting on the west side of town – looking west:
Despite getting back into some heat, the previous rain has allowed the yards to green up and the garden to look considerably better over the past couple of days. That greenness may help keep temperatures in check a bit over the next week.
However, at 1:05 P.M… the temperature in Okarche reached 100 degrees for the 50th time this year. This ties the record for the most days at 100 degrees which was set in 1998. The temperature went on to reach a high of 105 degrees at 4:15 P.M. This has broken the record of 103 degrees which was set in 1993, 1999 and 2000.
Off and on showers and thunderstorms over the past week have resulted in 1.96 inches of precipitation so far this month in Okarche. Thankfully, this has put a dent in the incredible heat that was seen through the first eight days of the month. The storms have also done a pretty good job of producing lightning and more was shot on the morning of the 12th. This is yet another strike that was caught only a few hundred yards away.
For a higher-res image: http://www.okweatherwatch.com/2011/081211a.jpg
The temperature did reach 100 degrees on the 12th which is the 48th day this year for that to occur. We are now one day away from tying 2000’s 49 days of 100 degree temperatures and two days away from tying 1998’s 50 days of 100 degree temperatures.
This summer has had its share of records being tied or broken. One that doesn’t see much action is a tie for the most consecutive days of thunder. The six days of thunder between August 8 and August 13 ties the previous records set from May 31 to June 5, 1995 – and June 17 to 22, 2004.
It doesn’t appear likely that this streak will be extended as we return to more of a dry weather pattern for the next several days. Our next decent shot for storms will come near the middle of next week.
More 100 degree days are in store – this time with higher humidity thanks to the recent rainfall. This will allow the heat index at times to exceed 105 degrees.
The thunderstorms over the past several days have resulted in considerable overnight cloudiness. This combined with a near full moon produced horrible viewing conditions for the peak of the Perseid meteor shower which occurred last night. I spent about 45 minutes outside and observed four meteors. Normally, a clear and moonless night in Okarche would allow me to see about 45 in an hour. I did get a couple of images – but nothing too impressive.
For a higher-res image: http://www.okweatherwatch.com/2011/081311a.jpg
Ahhhhhh, take it Rascals – 67 degrees in Okarche, rain falling, lightning crashing. No need to try and set up a camera – just enjoy. The tipping bucket is approaching 1/2 inch of precipitation and the radar is colorful.
My only complaint is that these daily thunderstorms are starting to cut into my meteor viewing… but if you think I’m going to whine about that very much, you’re crazy.
The latest GFS suggests that heat will return to the state next week, but this extended period of relief is just what the doctor ordered. By the time it returns, we will only be within a couple of weeks of seeing our averages start to trail off toward fall. We will no doubt still see some hot days before it’s over, but the summer we have grown used to may very well be a thing of the past. Fingers crossed….