Rain on the way / Various pics

Numerous showers and thunderstorms are quickly forming across north central and northwest Oklahoma. These will continue to intensify and expand in coverage as they spread southeastward into central Oklahoma overnight and during the day on Thursday. This may be one of the better chances of rain we have seen in quite some time.

A few more images have been processed from the storm chase of 17-Sep – where a supercell storm tracked across Major and Garfield Counties:

A You Tube video time lapse of 160 images from the evening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Os_ZCDOqxwQ

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Finally, the Fall Migration of the Monarch is kicking into high gear.  We sat for an hour tonight watching beautiful Monarchs use our garden for a stopping ground.

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Disappointing Rainfall / Supercell Chase

The recent rounds of precipitation didn’t do a whole lot to ease the drought situation in Okarche.  Widespread rainfall of at least one to two inches was expected, but the three day total in town was only 0.32 of an inch.  This has brought our yearly total up to 16.76 inches which is 11.44 inches below the normal of 28.20.  Mesonet rainfall for the past week shows that Okarche is not alone.  A large part of western Oklahoma only saw around a quarter or third of an inch.

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A strong upper system will be swinging southeastward on Tuesday/Wednesday which will bring another front into the state.  There will be precipitation chances again – but amounts are not expected to be all that much.

Saturday, the 17th ended up being a chase day and a beautiful supercell was observed in Major and Garfield Counties.  There are many images to process from the day, but for now – this is a peek at the storm just after sunset:

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Not So Fast, My Friend!

To borrow a catchphrase from Lee Corso.  It was funny to watch local weather talk about the “end of the 100 degrees” when a strong cold front made it into the state on the 4th.  We have had some wonderful weather and eight days from the 4th until the 11th were below normal – as much as 13 degrees below normal.  However, I said on the 1st that it was likely that we would at least see brief returns to 100 degree temperatures.  The drought continues and anytime we get a warm southwest wind blowing – it won’t take much to get quite hot.

Yesterday (12th) – with sunny skies and a southwest wind blowing to 30 mph, the temperature in Okarche reached a record breaking 101 degrees.  The previous record was 99 degrees set in 2000.  This marked the 65th day of the year where the temperature has reached at least 100 degrees.

Once again today, we have a chance to get rather warm before a front starts working into the state on Wednesday.  Much cooler temperatures and widespread precipitation is expected from Wednesday night through Thursday.

Will that be enough?  We will have to wait and see.  If we throw down enough rainfall, we may very well have seen the last of the 100 degree weather.  But, another reminder, that we have hit 100 degrees before all the way until the end of the month.  If we stay dry enough that potential will still be there.

Perfect…

A sleepless, but moonless – cloudless – hazeless – windless night.  I spent about 45 minutes outside this morning sky gazing.  A bit chilly, 49 degrees which has already set a record low and is the earliest 40 degree temperature I have recorded.  The peak wind over the last six hours as been 1 mph.  The image below is nearly an eight minute exposure and you can hardly see a leaf blur on the tree at the bottom.  Jupiter is the brightest in the image shining at -2.28 mag.  There were a handful of meteors – one decent one to the east and one to the south.  Not bad considering we are nowhere near a good shower and only on the edge of a couple of minor ones.  The sky was about as clear as you can get it around here and the Milky Way stood out nice – even to the naked eye.

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How did they do it before Doppler radar?

“Lee” has lost tropical characteristics, but the remnants continue to move through Mississippi early this morning.  Land falling tropical systems have the potential to produce a significant amount of tornadoes… due largely to the high amount of low level shear associated with the systems.  Most of the tornadoes are weak and short-lived.  Occasionally, there can be a significant tornado or two.

There have been 22 “reported” tornadoes associated with Lee.  It must have been almost impossible to get lead time with this type of tornado before Doppler radar.  Looking at a wide view of the southeast Mississippi/southwest Alabama area – the precipitation looks like just a widespread area of showers and thunderstorms.  You don’t exactly see anything that stands out like supercells in a typical Great Plains severe weather event:

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But, if you take the time to examine each of the storms… you will find most any sustained updraft will be rotating to some degree.  One of these storms this early morning might have produced a long-track, strong tornado.  It tracked across Greene County, Mississippi and into Washington County, Alabama.

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For more than a half hour, this storm had an intense and tight low level circulation.  Nighttime, fast moving tornadoes through rural areas can spell bad news.  It looks like a tornado may have passed very close to the town of Fruitdale, Alabama.

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The tornado threat will continue throughout the day – spreading across Alabama and into Georgia.

Like the heat?

You better enjoy it today… because it’s going away for at least a week or so.  I’m going to forecast a high today (Saturday) of 100 degrees for Okarche.  Why not?  It hasn’t had much trouble reaching that over the last three months, and we are still going to be ahead of a cold front this afternoon.  But… that may be it for quite some time.  A decent cold front will be pushing into Oklahoma today and through the Okarche area this evening.

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If you take some of the latest model data for the gospel… this is the way that forecast temperatures might look through the middle of the month:

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The unfortunate part of the cool down is that not much in the way of precipitation is forecast, and the extreme drought conditions will continue.  The cooler weather and slightly higher humidity should help fire weather concerns.  It has been a horrible week with regard to wildfires.  Some of the worst have been in Oklahoma City where numerous homes have been lost.  One of the largest in terms of square miles is burning in southwest Oklahoma near Meers.  While driving home Friday evening, there was a very nice sunset which I thought was dropping through a bank of clouds to our west.  If I had known it was smoke from the Meers fire, I would have taken the time to stop and shoot some pictures.  The satellite image just before sunset showed an incredible smoke plume extending from southwest Oklahoma into Kansas:

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Tropical Storm Lee continues to spin just off the Louisiana coast.  There were indications a few days ago that the track *might* have been able to come close enough to Oklahoma to provide some much needed rain.  Alas, it now appears this system will remain well to our east.  As for the impacts in Louisiana – it appears that the system will not reach hurricane status before landfall.  There may be some very big flooding issues with as much as 20 inches of rain forecast.  In contrast – it is estimated that we would need as much as 20 inches of rain in a month just to take us out of extreme drought.  The other issue in Louisiana today will be a tornado threat.  Numerous tornado warnings are currently in effect over the southeast part of the state.

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Amazing Climatological Summer Finally Comes To An End…

One would like to hope that this summer was a once in a lifetime summer.  The climatological summer includes June, July and August.

http://www.okweatherwatch.com/wx/monthlyaverage.jpg

The June record book included 14 days where the high temperature was tied or broken.  There were 3 days where the high low temperature was tied or broken.  27 of the 30 days had temperatures at or above normal.  The temperature reached at least 100 degrees on 9 days, and the temperature reached at least 90 degrees on all but one day (June 11 – 89 degrees).  The average temperature of 82.9 degrees ranked number one beating out 81.7 degrees in 1994.

http://www.okweatherwatch.com/wx/junerecordbook.pdf

Conditions became ridiculous in July.  12 high temperature records were tied or broken.  7 high low temperature records were tied or broken.  30 of the 31 days saw the temperature reach at least 100 degrees and it reached at least 110 degrees on 4 days.  The temperature fell below 70 degrees on only one day (July 5 – 69 degrees).  Every day of the month saw the average temperature at or above normal.  The high temperature of 112 degrees on the 9th was the warmest July temperature of record.  At the time, it would tie for the highest all time.  The average temperature was an astounding 90.3 degrees which beat the previous high of 87.3 degrees set in 1998.

http://www.okweatherwatch.com/wx/julyrecordbook.pdf

Not to be outdone came August.  The first 6 days of the month saw the high temperature reach at least 110 degrees.  The highest temperature ever recorded in Okarche was 113 degrees which occurred on the 2nd and 5th.  The high temperature record was tied or broken on 16 days.  The high low temperature record was tied or broken on 8 days.  The average temperature was above normal on 26 days.  23 days saw the temperature reach at least 100 degrees and it reached at least 110 degrees on 8 days.  A high temperature of 82 degrees on the 11th and a low temperature of 59 degrees on the 26th helped pull the average temperature down to 87.9 degrees which fell short of the August record by 1/10th of a degree.

http://www.okweatherwatch.com/wx/augustrecordbook.pdf

June, July and August combined to form the hottest summer of record with an average temperature of 87.0 degrees.  This destroyed the previous record of 84.0 degrees set in 1998.  So far, 62 days have seen the temperature reach 100 degrees.  The previous record for a year was 50 days set in 1998.  11 of the 17 hottest temperatures ever recorded occurred this summer.  We are all but guaranteed to reach 100 degrees on the first three days of September which will bring our total to 65 days.  One of the stronger cold fronts we have seen in months is due in on the 4th which will likely end up bringing our temperature down to below normal.

Help on the way…

Model data for the past several days has strongly suggested that a cold front will be pushing through Oklahoma this coming weekend.  It now appears that this is actually going to happen!  A strong trough of low pressure will be moving from southwest Canada toward the Great Lakes… which will push a cold front southeastward.  The upper high which has caused us our grief over the past few months will work westward and settle into Arizona/New Mexico where I hope it stays for a few days.  Also of interest… we will be monitoring a developing tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico.

The cold front will move into northwest Oklahoma by late Saturday afternoon.  By Sunday afternoon… the front will have made it through most of the state.  A very pleasant looking ridge of high pressure will extend from the northern plains to southwest Texas.  Today, Friday and Saturday will all be quite warm with temperatures pushing above 100 degrees.  These are likely to be the last 100 degree days for most of the upcoming week.  Another surge of cool air will push into the state at mid-week… reinforcing our nice weather.  It appears that 50’s for lows and 80’s for highs will be common.

Last 100 degree temperatures?

Unfortunately, not likely.  The September record book shows that temperatures above 100 degrees have occurred on the last day of the month.  On October 3, 2000 – the temperature reached 98 degrees.  Basically, we are still several weeks away before we get past the “potential” to get hot.  Given the fact that no significant rain is expected in west Texas/Oklahoma during our cool down – extreme drought conditions will continue.  This means that when the pattern does shift again, we are probably going to warm up quick.  At least we can enjoy the upcoming week.