Critical fire weather conditions in Oklahoma today…

A weak short wave trough will be moving into the central Plains this afternoon.  In response, a fairly deep area of low pressure will develop in southeast Colorado with a surface front extending northeastward from the low into Minnesota.  East of these features, winds will become gusty out of the southwest and temperatures will warm well into the 90′s.  Low level moisture has been quite low over the past several days across the central and southern Plains, this will remain the case today and most areas west of a Wichita Falls, TX – Kansas City line will see humidity drop well below 20 percent.

Dry vegetation, winds gusting to at or above 30 mph, and the low humidity will create conditions favorable for the start and spread of wildfires this afternoon.  In Oklahoma, the most likely area to see critical fire weather will be west of a line from Cookietown to Pink to Foraker.  While located at the far eastern side of the risk area – Oklahoma City is included.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strong cold front blasting through the state…

My condolences go out to people living in southern Oklahoma late this afternoon… where temperatures are still around 108 degrees in some areas.  A strong cold front is pushing through central Oklahoma and some temperatures in north central Oklahoma have fallen to around 67 degrees…. or a full 41 degrees cooler than the highest readings in southern parts of the state.  In Okarche at 5 pm….the temperature is 79 degrees!

There have been scattered showers and thunderstorms both ahead, along and behind the front – but these are quick movers and haven’t produced a whole lot of rainfall.  When the front blasted through Okarche, it brought a wall of dirt with it and the wind reached 39 mph.  Many places behind the front are seeing north winds gusting to over 50 mph.  The highest wind so far today has been 74 mph – associated with a severe thunderstorm at Tinker Air Force Base. 

In addition to the extreme temperatures, high winds and severe thunderstorms… radar shows indications that wildfires may have broken out in the strong winds in southern Garfield County and western Pawnee County.

The strong winds will continue for several more hours before calming down overnight.  Saturday should be a great day with highs near 80 degrees and sunny skies.

With mild air hanging around for a few days, and another strong cold front next weekend, it is very possible that today was the last chance for Okarche to hit 100 degrees this year.  I only say very possible because it is still early enough to get heat back – especially as we remain in extreme drought.  The temperature did hit 100 degrees today at 12:17 pm – reached a high of 102.1 degrees at 12:42 pm – and dropped back to 99 at 1:11 pm.  While we only spent 54 minutes at or above 100 degrees, this does mark the 36th day this year we have reached 100.  This breaks a three way tie with the years 2001 and 2006 and moves 2012 into 4th all time.  The importance of this is that 2012 now stands alone in 4th place with only three other brutally hot years before it. 

2011 – 66 days
1998 – 50 days
2000 – 49 days

 

Strong cold front on the way…. could be end of 100 degree temps this year….

 

I’ve always said, just get me to the 7th of September… well, right on schedule – we will be seeing our first strong front of the fall season. A cold front is organizing in the central Plains with temperatures in the Dakotas this evening falling into the 50′s. The front will be surging southward during the morning hours on Friday…. reaching the Okarche area around 4 pm. Behind the front, winds will become strong out of the north gusting to near 50 mph. There will be scattered showers and thunderstorms along and behind the front. Significant rainfall is not expected. Before it gets here…. a temperatures near a pre-frontal trough are likely to get out of control and push the 105 degree mark.

After the front gets by, the low temperature Friday night in Okarche should drop into the low 50′s. With sunny skies, the high Saturday will barely reach 80 degrees!

Hot start to month – but MUCH COOLER temperatures around the corner….

It has been, and will continue to be, a very hot start to September.  The high temperature on the 1st was 105 degrees and yesterday we reached 107.  As hot as it is, records are not expected to be broken through the first four days of the month.  The blocking factor is courteous of the 2000 heat wave which has a strong hold on the high temperature records the first few days of September.  In 2000, we reached 109 degrees on the 1st… 110 degrees on the 2nd… 112 degrees on the 3rd and 110 degrees on the 4th.

Typically, we start seeing a dramatic change to our weather after the first week of September.  September 6th is the first day coming out of summer that a low temperature record is in the 40′s.  September 8th is the first day since June 21st that the high temperature record is not at or above 100 degrees.  Days start rapidly getting shorter as the sun angle lowers, and steering currents begin to work cold fronts closer and closer – and through the state.  Add in some precipitation and it’s no wonder why the Oklahoma State Fair has the reputation it does.  Ever in drought?   Just get us to the fair!

By Tuesday night, showers and thunderstorms are expected to form in southern Kansas.  These may drift into northern or central Oklahoma during the day Wednesday.  Other scattered storms may form late Wednesday in northwest Oklahoma and linger into Thursday over the northern part of the state.   Wednesday and Thursday are still expected to be quite warm.  The better chances of storms will come late Friday into early Saturday when a stronger cold front makes its way through the state.  Friday could still be warm in southern Oklahoma, but northerly winds will begin to bring cooler air into the northern part of the state by evening.  It should be a beautiful, college football Saturday with a northeast wind blowing and high temperatures having a hard time reaching 80 degrees.  By Sunday morning, low’s across the state will range from the upper 40′s in extreme northeast Oklahoma to the upper 50′s in the far southwest.  At the northern end of the high pressure ridge responsible – low’s in northern Minnesota are likely to drop below freezing.

Even cooler weather is expected by Monday morning when low’s may reach the upper 40′s across northeast and central Oklahoma.