Smoke plume from train wreck shows on satellite images

123113a123113bTwo trains collided in North Dakota about 25 miles west of Fargo, Monday afternoon.  The resulting explosions and fire of petroleum products generated a dense black smoke plume which was blown to the southeast by the low level winds.  We are used to seeing grass fires, and even petroleum based fires on satellite images, but it’s fairly rare to catch an event over a field of snow cover where the contrast is so great.

Bitter cold across Dakotas/MN/WI

123013bBitter cold air continues to grip areas of the far Northern U.S. from the Dakotas to Wisconsin.  Here at midday, some temperatures across this area are as cold as 18 degrees below zero.  The map above shows low temperatures this morning across areas of Northeast Minnesota and Northwest Wisconsin.  The map only shows temperatures BELOW 30 degrees below zero.  The winner – if you can call it that – Embarass, Minnesota at 40 degrees below zero.

As of December 29th, the average temperature in International Falls, Minnesota has been 2.8 degrees below zero.  This currently ranks as the third coldest December of record, and not too far behind 4.3 degrees below zero in 1983 and 3.0 degrees below zero in 1976.  The temperature in International Falls has only been above freezing one day in December – when it reached 34 degrees on the 27th.  This is the 8th day with a high temperature below zero.  There have been 10 days where the low temperature has dropped to below 25 degrees below zero.

The medium range models do not offer a lot of hope for these areas as repeated surges of arctic air will continue well into January.


No surprise – 2013 precipitation finishes well above normal

123013aThe 2013 total precipitation for Okarche will top at 46.72 inches.  This is 133 percent of normal, or 11.52 inches above normal.  This is pleasant to report considering that the last three years all rank in the top five driest.

The year started out a little dry and ran below normal through the middle of February.  There was also a brief period at the end of March where precipitation dropped below normal.  The rest of the year saw the total precipitation above or well above normal.  During the first part of August, the precipitation reached greater than 15 inches above normal.

This year easily ranks as the second wettest on record for Okarche.  Records date back to 1982.  The year was almost three inches above the third ranked, 1989.  Despite the / much needed / well above normal precipitation, this year falls a full 17 inches short of the wettest on record – the incredible 2007 which saw 63.73 inches of precipitation.

A look at 2013 can be found here:

And adjusted averages have been made and 2014 can be followed here:

Outlook (Monday-Wednesday)

General northwest to southeast flow, with embedded short wave troughs will exist across the U.S. through Wednesday.  The atmosphere across the state will remain dry and no precipitation is expected.

A cold high pressure ridge will extend from the Midwest to Texas, Monday morning.  Well below normal temperatures will be felt across Oklahoma.  It will still be quite cool across the state through Monday, before further modification occurs on Tuesday.  Gusty south winds in advance of the next cold front will allow temperatures to warm to near normal on Tuesday.  The next front will sweep across the state on Wednesday, and after a mild start to the day, temperatures will head back to well below freezing Wednesday night.

Okarche Weather:

Monday morning: 12

Monday: 46

Tuesday morning: 28

Tuesday: 54

Wednesday morning: 29

Wednesday: 55

Winds shift to north, and it gets warmer?

122913aFirst, you would have had to been up in the middle of the night, and second, you would really have had to be paying attention, but observers of the overnight frontal passage may have noticed an interesting occurrence.  When the winds shifted to the north, the temperature actually started increasing.  As the graph from here in Okarche shows, what passed around 2 am was actually a pre-frontal trough which shifted the winds to the north.  After several hours of having winds around 5 mph, the briefly gusty north winds allowed the atmosphere to mix, which brought down slightly warmer temperatures from just above the surface.  The temperature warmed from 34 to 39 degrees over the next two hours before the arctic front came through with strong north winds and cold air advection.  The process is a fairly common one with fronts passing Oklahoma during the overnight hours.

Cold air invades the state tonight

122813aIt could always be worse.  If you lived in Grand Forks, North Dakota, your forecast right now would look something like this:


The temperature in Grand Forks is not expected to go back above zero degrees until Thursday when they are expected to reach one degree.

The same cold front that is spreading bitterly cold air across the Northern Plains and Midwest will be moving across Oklahoma tonight and Sunday morning.  Obviously it won’t be Grand Forks cold around here, but the temperature on Sunday is not expected to go above freezing.  By Sunday night, the temperature will be in the low teens.  There will be a several hour period after frontal passage that winds will be quite strong.  Across Western Oklahoma, wind gusts between 40 and 50 mph will be possible.

In search of warm weather

122713aWith all the recent discussion about cold or snowy weather, I figured I would search for some warm weather to talk about this morning.  Naturally, this took me to Florida.  Indeed, it will be warm across South Florida today with many areas expecting highs in the 80′s.  But, it isn’t always like that.  In fact, a visit to the National Weather Service page from Key West found information about a cold wave which was centered around this date in 1985.

On December 27, 1985, the low temperature in Key West dropped to 44 degrees which is the coldest temperature ever recorded there in the month of December.  A look at the Daily Weather Map for that date shows high pressured centered over the state, and the freezing line more than half way down the peninsula.  The 7 am temperature at Tampa and Jacksonville was 29 degrees, and it was 25 degrees in Tallahassee.  The low of 44 had already been reached and it was 52 degrees in Key West when this map was made.

I’m not sure how many homes in South Florida have heaters, but those that didn’t probably had folks waking up a bit on the chilly side.

Remaining snow affecting afternoon temperatures

122613aSnow cover is having a dramatic affect on temperatures this afternoon.  Mostly clear skies have allowed the remaining snow cover from last weeks storm to show up nicely on satellite images.  Some of the snowfall in these areas exceeded a foot and it will likely be on the ground for a few more days.  In Great Bend, Kansas, over 15 inches of snow fell last week and the temperature this afternoon is in the mid 30′s.  Just one county to the north, Russell, Kansas has seen the temperature reach the mid 50′s.  While not as extreme, significant temperature differences are being seen across the snow/no snow areas from the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, northeastward across Kansas.

Unusual snowfall record

Some of the coldest air in the nation has been shoved to the extreme northeast corner of the U.S. this Christmas evening.  At 11 pm, some Maine temperatures include: minus 17 degrees at Houlton and Presque Isle, and minus 9 degrees at Caribou.

It has been cold and snowy since the middle of the month, so much so that an unusual snowfall record was set on Christmas Eve.  There was measurable snow in Caribou for ten straight days from December 15 to 24.  The stretch got started off with a big storm which produced 15.5 inches of snow on the 15th.  Over the next nine days, an additional 14.2 inches of snow fell.  They did not record measurable snowfall Christmas day.

Not to worry, they can start a new streak tomorrow as 2 to 5 inches of snow is expected Thursday and Thursday night.

Outlook (Thursday-Sunday)

There are only small differences between the GFS and Euro solutions through the weekend.  This evening, a sharp trough of low pressure extends from Hudson Bay southward across the Mississippi Valley.  A weak upper low, detached from the main flow is found near El Paso, Texas, and a ridge of high pressure is located over the West Coast.  The Mississippi Valley trough will be quickly pushing off the New England Coast by late afternoon on Thursday.  Another rapidly moving, strong short wave trough will be moving across the Pacific Northwest on Friday.  By Saturday, this wave will be moving across the Central Rockies, and it will start to phase with the lingering trough over Texas.  By Sunday, a strong and broad trough of low pressure will cover most of the eastern 2/3′s of the country with its axis from Wisconsin to Texas.

A weak surface boundary will be in the vicinity of Oklahoma through Friday.  This boundary is likely to make subtle north and south movements which will have at least minor impacts on temperatures Thursday and Friday.  By Saturday, low pressure will deepen northwest of the state and winds will be gusty out of the south with mild temperatures.  A strong cold front will be surging southward across the Northern and Central Plains on Saturday.  Currently, it appears that this front will reach far Northwest Oklahoma by Midnight, Sunday.  It will rapidly move across the state during the morning hours on Sunday with much colder air following it.  It is possible that there will be some very light rain or snow develop immediately behind the front over Southern and Eastern Oklahoma, Sunday morning.

Okarche Weather:

Thursday morning: 25

Thursday: 53

Friday morning: 29

Friday: 57

Saturday morning: 33

Saturday: 62

Sunday morning: 25

Sunday: 29