It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It’s a go!  The 2nd Annual Ewoldt House of Horror has been under construction since October 1st.  Most of the structural part of the set is completed and we will spend the remaining days working on costumes – lighting – visual and sound – coverings – pumpkin carving – etc… but we have no reason to believe that we won’t be ready to open Halloween evening.  Besides our own fun of putting a little fright into the evening – we want kids to earn their candy.  It comes at the end… no walking up to the door for a handout!

We have 12 people at the various 9 “scare” spots.

Weather was a worry this year.  Last year, we put the entire set inside the barn out back.  This year, we expanded to have about half of it outside.  The drought has created quite a bit of bare ground which would be mud if it rained on us, but the latest guidance points toward a lot of sunshine leading up to the day with temperatures in the 70′s.

The photos included show some of the construction – but I will leave the details out ;)

For reference of the pumpkins – the Golden Retriever (King) laying next to them weighs about 85 pounds!  One of our pumpkins weighed in at 61 pounds.

Plenty of candy for the kids – and the bar will be open for the adults.  Snacks – including Shan’s famous meatballs will be at the ready.

For a rundown of last year: http://www.pbase.com/okweatherwatch/ehh

This year we may shut down the Union Pacific that runs behind the house….

13 12

1 2

11 10

9 8

7 6

5 4

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Where is Rina heading?

A lot of eyes are set on the western Caribbean and Hurricane Rina.  Satellite imagery shows the storm becoming better organized this morning and winds are now sustained at over 100 mph.  The pressure has fallen to 971 mb.  A Hurricane Warning is now in effect for the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from north of Punta Gruesa to Cancun.

Rina appears capable of causing a lot of headaches to forecasters over the next few days.  Model guidance is in general agreement that the storm will make an anti-cyclonic loop – skirting the Yucatan by Thursday morning before entering the Gulf of Mexico Friday morning.  The current forecast calls for a landfall in western Cuba on Saturday morning.  At any point along this track… there is the potential for the storm to become very strong with fluctuating up and down strength.

There are sets of guidance that suggest that the storm may miss Cuba and make a landfall in southwest Florida.  This is still several days down the forecast road and the possibility of large error is great.  Either way, this storm looks to pose a significant challenge to forecasters and probably test the patience of those living near its path.

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Turning colder in Oklahoma on Wednesday…

Another strong cold front is headed toward the state – but it appears that we are still not going to be seeing our first freeze in the near future.  The front will slide into central Oklahoma around daybreak on Wednesday and by sunset – the winds should be strong out of the north at 20 to 30 mph with gusts near 40.

There have been decent signals of widespread precipitation breaking out along and behind the front which may produce about a ½ inch of rain in Okarche.

Expect the low Friday morning to drop into the 30’s before a warm up takes us back near 70 degrees over the weekend.  We will probably make it well past our average first freeze date of November 2 before the temperature reaches 32 degrees.

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Oklahoma Aurora!

Our old friend Aurora Borealis visited Oklahoma on Monday evening (24th).  Sort of… I was able to catch a glimpse of it with the camera, despite not seeing it visually.  From the reports around the country, this appears to have been a spectacular – but short duration event – somewhat mimicking the event I caught in 2003.

Thanks to Doug Speheger who called me when he received reports of it being seen at a latitude far enough south to be observed in Arkansas.  Past experience told me to shoot and let the camera do the work and it indeed picked up on a broad arc of red light associated with the fading event.

This was definitely my least interesting of my three observed Oklahoma aurora events – but good enough to remind me to start paying attention to space weather a bit more as we continue our upswing in solar activity.

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Now a record high… update on cold air approaching.

We did it this time.  On the 16th… the high temperature in Okarche reached 90 degrees which broke the old record of 86 degrees set in 2010.

The colder air is still on the way, and it looks a little faster than earlier thought.  It should be into northwest Oklahoma during the daylight hours today (Monday) – making central Oklahoma by around 6 P.M.  It still looks like there will be gusty winds (over 40 mph) as the front passes and there may be an increased chance of showers and thunderstorms – mainly over eastern Oklahoma.

By Wednesday morning – frost will be possible in central Oklahoma and some true freezing temperatures are possible in the northeast.

The average date of the first freeze in Okarche is November 2nd.

Record high temperature today – COLD air on the way!

Whoops… the record high temperature for the date was actually 88 degrees – so we came up a little short.  It was still a warm day, and…

The high temperature so far today in Okarche has been 85 degrees which breaks the old record of 84 degrees set in 2007.  It looks like another few warm days are in store before a strong cold front reaches the state late Monday or very early Tuesday.

By Sunday evening, a large and deep upper low will be located near the southern end of Hudson Bay.  A sharp upper system will be moving through the Pacific Northwest – which will dive southeastward around the southern side of the Hudson Bay low.  As the upper system moves across the central and southern plains on Monday, an associated cold front will surge rapidly across the state.  The northwest to southeast trajectory of the system is not a favorable one for moisture return, and we are unlikely to see significant precipitation.  However, a few showers and a storm or two are possible in the central and eastern portions of Oklahoma.

This will be the first strong cold front of the fall/winter season to visit the state.  Winds by Monday night will become strong out of the north and continue through the day on Tuesday.  Gusts in the 40 to 50 mph range will be possible.  It appears that temperatures will get down into the 30′s in parts of central Oklahoma behind the front and freezing temperatures are not out of the question for the northern part of the state.

Looks like we will be using Sunday to start the seasonal migration of certain plants and trees back into the house.  And, the lovely smell of burning dirt/dust off the heater is not that far away…

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It’s not a drought breaker…

…but you’ve got to start somewhere.  The well advertised rainfall did make a visit over the past 48 hours in Okarche – as well as most of the state.  Rainfall totals for the past two days showed a nice south to north swath through the central sections of the state where amounts approached five inches.  Once again on the short side of things, Okarche has come in at 2.54 inches for the two day total.  1.06 fell on the 8th and 1.48 on the 9th.  This is the largest two day total of precipitation since September 12/13, 2009 when 3.73 inches of rain fell.

For the most part, this was a slow steady rain which did it’s job of starting to turn things around.  The first day really didn’t do much except get dirt off the house, yard, cars, trees which had accumulated over the past several months.  In some cases, it looked like mud dripping rather than water.  Today’s rainfall actually soaked the ground enough to allow some puddles and runoff to occur.

Get ready for the big transformation… we are still early enough in fall to have a decent sun angle and there is no cold air in sight.  All of the brown that we have become used to over the summer is likely to rapidly green-up during the next few days.

Our storm total rainfall of 2.54 inches brings our yearly total to 19.78 inches – which is still 10.39 inches below normal.  But again, you have to start somewhere.

The clouds got thin enough this evening just before the rain ended and a purple sky/weak rainbow showed itself to the east.  The past two days have been very pleasant indeed!

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Water on the way….. hopefully!

Model data continues to bounce around a little, but we are seeing enough trends to consider adding a significant chance of showers and thunderstorms over the next week.

When does it start?  Good question… as a major upper system over the western U.S. moves closer, widely scattered showers and thunderstorms are possible in a warm air advection regime starting in the Texas panhandle and reaching some of far western Oklahoma by this evening.

These early storms should be short-lived as they lift northward on Thursday and our attention turns to a cold front/dry line to our west.  This is likely to provide a more widespread area of storms from west Texas northward into the central and northern plains on Friday.  By early Saturday, widespread storms – some producing some heavy rainfall – will be found over a lot of western Oklahoma.  These will shift eastward into central sections by Saturday afternoon and evening.  More storms should form Saturday night in central Oklahoma and spread into the eastern parts of the state on Sunday – before exiting eastern Oklahoma on Monday.

It is so hard to forecast significant amounts of rain given the pattern we have been in, but the models are starting to get on track and like the idea of widespread amounts of one to two inches with local amounts of two to four inches across a large part of the state before the precipitation ends.

The wind fields support north/south lines of slow moving storms – with training of heavier precipitation up the line.  This is a common setup for heavy rain in Oklahoma.  I may have to take out the canned air and blow out the tipping bucket.

Should a worse case scenario evolve – some models forecast upward of six inches of rain with this system – it will be hard to believe, but we may run into some flooding issues.  The ground has become so hard that I think most flash flood guidance can be thrown out the window.  A couple of inches of rain on ground that is as hard as concrete will allow rapid run-off.  Get out the rabbit’s foot, squeeze the goat’s testicles, cross your fingers…. we may just see some of the best rain we’ve seen all year.

Not the worst hard time, but…

As of October 2nd, this is the driest it’s been so late in the year in Okarche.  Our current precipitation total sits at 17.22 inches which is 12.17 inches below the normal of 29.39 inches.  Previously, the driest January 1 to October 2 occurred in 1998 when the total was 17.45 inches.  However, during that year, 3.45 inches of rain fell on October 4 and 5.  That is very unlikely this year and we are going to soon be several inches below the previous driest period.

On top of the 2011 deficit – we finished 2010 at 10.40 inches below normal.  This current drought has us nearly 20 inches below normal over the past year.

Keeping the house clean is nearly impossible these days.  Anything that gets dusted today will have a fine silt over it by tomorrow.  This was common over the summer and gets particularly bad when the wind blows.  It’s amazing where it manages to get inside.

I have just finished the book ‘The Worst Hard Time’ by Timothy Egan, which tells the story of people who lived and died during The Great American Dust Bowl.  First of all, I know there are those that don’t believe that I can finish a book – and yes, the last one was probably ‘The Cat in the Hat’ about 40 years ago – but I did and I would recommend it to those that have an interest in weather history or just Oklahoma history.  Second, I’m not going to try and compare what “cleaning” we have to do these days to what those folks went through, but it is tougher to keep a house clean now more than it has ever been around here.

On to this morning… I walked outside and saw my friend Billy standing in my friend Jim’s yard across the street.  He was waiting for Jim before they went to get in a round of golf; a great morning for that by the way.

I walked up to Billy about the time that Jim came outside and the conversation turned to the weather and went something like this:

Billy: Are we ever going to get any rain?

Me: Maybe by the end of the week.

Billy: We were out at Ryan’s lake over the 4th of July and couldn’t shoot our fireworks because of the ban.  We all agreed to just keep them a couple of weeks and fire them off when the ban was lifted… we still have them.

Jim: Shit man, it’s never going to rain again.

To which we all laughed and Jim followed it with: You know it’s bad when tumbleweeds are rolling down Eischen Avenue.

We just about pissed ourselves laughing after turning around and seeing, yes – a tumbleweed rolling down Eischen Avenue.

I couldn’t let this opportunity get by, so I grabbed my camera and fired off a couple of shots.  A little more laughing and then Billy and Jim were off on their way to knock the little white ball around.  I stopped by the outdoor bin and dumped my third vacuum canister and went inside to fill it up again.  Ahh…life during a drought – life in a rural area during drought – life in Okarche.

Okarche tumbleweed rolling down Eischen Avenue...

Okarche tumbleweed rolling down Eischen Avenue...