Outlook (Thursday-Sunday)

The upper-level flow across the U.S. this afternoon is generally zonal with numerous embedded short wave troughs.  One trough is currently moving through southeast Oklahoma and eastern Texas.  This combined with an increase in low level moisture over the past 24 hours has resulted in shower and thunderstorm activity.  In Oklahoma, the activity has been fairly scattered with only a few areas receiving brief heavy showers.

A second trough is moving southeast through Montana, with a third moving eastward through Utah and Arizona.  These will advance eastward over the next 24 hours eventually phasing over the Plains and Mississippi Valley during the day Thursday.  This will help push a cold front into Oklahoma during the early morning hours.  Showers and thunderstorms will occur along and ahead of the front, with the strongest lifting / and higher coverage of precipitation / occurring across north central and northeast Oklahoma.  It now appears that the onset of precipitation will be delayed beyond previous thinking and that showers and storms will be ongoing in eastern Oklahoma well into the afternoon hours. Temperatures will only peak in the mid 50′s on Thursday and winds will become gusty out of the north behind the front.  The temperature will drop to near or just below freezing Thursday night.

Behind the Thursday system, a high pressure ridge aloft will work eastward over the Plains while a strong storm system moves onshore over the west coast.  With mostly sunny skies, temperatures Friday will push to near 60 degrees as winds gradually become southeasterly.  By late afternoon, winds will be gusting out of the south across the panhandle and extreme northwest.  The low Friday night will be well above normal, in the upper 30′s.

24-48 hours ago, models were having a hard time coming up with similar solutions for the western U.S. system.  The various models have come more in agreement over the past 24 hours and it now appears that a significant lead wave will eject out of the west on Saturday, reaching the central Plains by Sunday morning.  As this occurs, a deep area of surface low pressure will take shape in eastern Colorado.  With south winds, temperatures on Saturday will reach near 60 degrees (possibly warmer depending on the amount of cloud cover).  The surface low will advance toward south central Nebraska during the overnight hours from Saturday into Sunday, while a cold front will start pushing eastward through Oklahoma.  Low temperatures in central Oklahoma Saturday night are tricky to forecast.  If the front passes between 3 am and 6 am, there may be a brief period where temperatures drop into the 30′s.  Should frontal passage hold off until after sunrise, temperatures will only drop into the 40′s.

Strong lifting across Nebraska and adjacent areas of South Dakota will result in a significant snow event with near blizzard conditions on the northwest side of the surface low.  A second area of large scale lift will be overspreading the warm sector in Oklahoma and Texas.  Showers and thunderstorms will form along the front with the greatest chance of precipitation in central Oklahoma coming between Midnight and 6 am on Sunday.  A few severe thunderstorms appear possible in Texas and southern Oklahoma during the early morning hours of Sunday.  This threat will shift eastward into Arkansas and Louisiana by Sunday afternoon.

The pressure gradient in the wake of the cold front will not be that strong and winds Sunday will steadily weaken throughout the day.  Temperatures should once again push to near 60 degrees.

Beyond the Thursday to Sunday period, things have taken a turn toward the interesting with a possible winter storm shaping up toward the start of next week.  Once again, model agreement has boosted confidence and while attention is focused on the ejecting lead wave on Sunday, a strong speed max will be dropping south through the western U.S. into the base of the trough. This will help carve out a strong system that will approach the southern Plains by Tuesday.  There should be a good supply of moisture to generate widespread precipitation with this system. Meanwhile, the column of air looks sufficiently cold for snow production / especially north of I-40.  While there is plenty of time for things to change, current indications are that significant amounts of snowfall could occur in the state from Tuesday into Wednesday morning.

Showers and a few thunderstorms Wed/Thu

Rain chances will begin to increase in south central and southeast Oklahoma during the afternoon hours of Wednesday, and the chance of showers in those areas will continue into the evening hours.

A better chance of showers and thunderstorms comes after Midnight on Thursday.  Precipitation will increase along a weak cold front moving southeastward through Kansas.  The activity will move/develop into Oklahoma with the best chance of rain in the north central and northeast sections of the state.  A rapid increase in low level moisture will take place on Wednesday, and there will be sufficient instability for thunder to be associated with showers during the early morning hours of Thursday.  The precipitation should be exiting the eastern part of the state by Noon.

Outlook (Monday-Wednesday)

Models continue to be in relatively good agreement with key weather features over the next several days.  A pattern of northwest flow aloft across the U.S. will gradually shift more zonal as weak troughs move through the West.  One weak system will move across the Red River Valley area early Monday.  This will generate mostly weak showers beginning tonight in central and south central Oklahoma… spreading to the Arkansas border by late morning Monday.  Low temperatures tonight will be well above normal / only dropping into the low 40’s / before reaching well into the 50’s on Monday.  A front will pass by late Monday morning shifting the winds to the north.  Behind this front, temperatures will be able to drop to below freezing Monday night.  That should be it for freezing temperatures for the remainder of the week. 

Temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday will be above to much above normal with highs reaching the mid 60’s on Wednesday. 

South winds with increasing low level moisture will be seen across the state on Wednesday as another disturbance approaches from the southwest U.S.  A few showers will be possible during the afternoon and evening on Wednesday, with a better chance of showers and thunderstorms by Thursday morning.

Rain now expected early Monday

Model data over the last 24 hours has come into excellent agreement that a mid level wave of low pressure will be moving across the state during the overnight hours of Sunday into Monday morning.  Now expected to be a little stronger, the wave will initiate a brief period of strong low level warm air advection, resulting in the development of showers and possibly a thunderstorm.  Precipitation is expected to break out first in southwest Oklahoma between Midnight and 6 am, and then expand/spread east northeastward. 

Rainfall amounts across most of the state are expected to be light, generally about ¼ of an inch.  Some parts of southeast/east central Oklahoma could see upward of a ½ inch of rain.

Despite the date on the calendar, temperatures will be mild during the precipitation and no winter weather is expected.

Okarche Weather – January

January in Okarche was yet another month with an above normal temperature and below normal amount of precipitation. It was the 8th month in a row where precipitation didn’t reach the normal. The total of 0.64 of an inch was only 52% of the January normal. There were two days with a trace amount of snowfall.

The temperature averaged 39.3 degrees which was 1.3 degrees above normal. The high temperature of 74 degrees on the 28th fell five degrees short of tying the all-time January high temperature.

There was one day with thunder – that on the 29th which broke a 78 day stretch without a thunderstorm in Okarche. There was one day with sleet and one day with dense fog.

On one day (13th) the wind chill fell below zero – minus 1 degree.

The peak wind for the month was 36 mph which occurred on the 11th and 27th.

Six records were set which included: three for warmest low temperatures, two for high temperatures, and one low temperature.

Drought in Okarche for the month of January started and ended as extreme.

Outlook (Thursday-Sunday)

Generally quiet weather has returned to the state and that will remain the case through the upcoming weekend.

A deep upper level trough of low pressure over the Mississippi Valley will shift eastward and high pressure will build into the western U.S. over the next several days. Northwesterly flow aloft diving from southern Canada into the eastern U.S. trough will allow several shots of cold air to spread southeast, but these should lead to only glancing blows to Oklahoma.

It will be cool tonight in Oklahoma as temperatures drop into the 20′s, but that is near normal for January 31st.  We will make a run up into the 50′s on Thursday before an afternoon cold front shifts winds to the northeast and puts a halt on our warmup.  Thursday night should see the coldest temperatures of the next few days with a low around 20 degrees expected in Okarche.

Winds will become southerly on Friday before yet another front slides through by Saturday morning.  The air behind this front doesn’t look as cold, and overnight lows will be near normal through the weekend with afternoon highs reaching as much as 10 degrees above normal.

The atmosphere will remain dry, and except for a slight chance of showers in southeast Oklahoma on Saturday, no precipitation is expected.

Severe thunderstorms possible tonight…

A high amplitude upper trough over the western U.S. will progress eastward over the next couple of days bringing significant weather changes to Oklahoma.

An unseasonably warm and moist atmosphere is in place across the state this afternoon with most temperatures in the 70′s while dewpoints are in the 50′s and 60′s. Some observed temperatures in southwest Oklahoma are pushing 80 degrees.     In Okarche, the high temperature so far today has been 74 degrees.  This is just two degrees short of tying the record for the date.  The morning low was 53 degrees… which is two degrees above the average HIGH temperature.  The average low temperature for today is 29 degrees.

Strong mid-level flow currently spreading from southeast Arizona northeastward through New Mexico will begin to spread over the central and southern Plains by Midnight tonight.  Coupled with an increasing low-level jet, shear profiles are expected to become favorable for organized thunderstorm activity. A modest amount of instability will remain in place through the overnight hours leading to some of the storms becoming severe. Storms that form late tonight and early Tuesday morning will continue to organize as they spread toward the Mississippi Valley, where a significant outbreak of severe thunderstorms is expected during the day Tuesday.

This afternoon, low pressure is located in northeast Colorado with a front extending eastward along the Kansas/Nebraska border.    Temperatures in Kansas are in the 70′s with temperatures in Nebraska ranging from the low 30′s in the west to upper 40′s in the southeast.  A dryline extends from near the front in northern Kansas to just east of Russell to east of Gage to east of Childress.  The cold front will begin to move south toward Oklahoma by late this evening.  By Noon on Tuesday, the cold front will be catching up to the dryline in northwest Oklahoma and will start moving southeastward through the state.  While thunderstorm activity will have cleared through southeast Oklahoma by late in the afternoon on Tuesday, the actual cold front won’t clear the state until close to Midnight on Wednesday.

Initial thunderstorm development tonight may be displaced a little east of the surface dryline – near the western edge of the deepest moisture and greatest instability. The best guess is for first storms to form in northwest Texas near Quanah and Guthrie.  This is likely to occur in the 1 AM to 3 AM time frame.  Rapid development northeastward to near and just west of Oklahoma City and to near Ponca City will occur shortly thereafter. The strongest storms will be capable of producing some large hail and damaging winds.  As shear steadily increases, there will be a risk of rotating storms, and an isolated tornado is not out of the question.

For a time Tuesday / generally late-morning to late-afternoon / there may be an enhanced risk of wildfires in southwest Oklahoma.  This would be south of the cold front and west of the dryline where the humidity will drop into the teens percent with west southwest winds gusting to between 30 and 35 MPH.

Finally, much colder air will filter into the state on Wednesday and by Wednesday night, temperatures are likely to drop into the low 20′s across the northwest third of the state.

Above normal temperatures / severe storms in Eastern Oklahoma on Tuesday

While the evolution of the approaching storm system hasn’t exactly followed the model trends of over a week ago, it is worth noting that a strong storm will be moving through the central U.S. on Tuesday (29th).  Evidence of this system was showing up on some medium range models as much as 14 days in advance. 

A strong high amplitude trough is located over the far western U.S. this morning.  As strong southwest mid-level flow overspreads the Plains on Monday, a deep surface low will organize near the Colorado/Kansas border.  South winds will continue to return low level moisture northward through the central and southern Plains as well as the central and lower Mississippi Valley. 

Monday will be a very nice day across Oklahoma with afternoon high temperatures expected to reach well into the 70’s in most areas.

A cold front will start to move southeastward on Tuesday morning, reaching the Enid and Elk City areas just after sunrise.  Temperatures will still be well above normal across the central and eastern part of the state.  Most model solutions support thunderstorm development in advance of the cold front across central Oklahoma during the morning hours.  These storms will rapidly expand northeastward and southward by Noon.  It is also expected that the activity will become better organized and severe as it moves toward the Mississippi Valley during the afternoon and evening on Tuesday.  There will be the potential for widespread wind damage with the storms, and a few tornadoes as well.  The severe threat will extend into the eastern U.S. on Wednesday. 

Much colder area will spill into Oklahoma behind the front on Tuesday, and a few snow flurries will not be out of the question Tuesday evening.  Wednesday and Thursday stand to be quite cold before things start to moderate by the weekend.

The spring side of the system was something anticipated several days ago.  The winter side of the storm is the side that is going to be disappointing.  While an area of snow is likely to fall from northeast Colorado to Minnesota, blizzard conditions won’t develop.

Major storm may pay visit to the Plains late this month…

It is quite rare to speculate on the weather nine days out.  I don’t think I’ve ever done it before, and should it fail miserably, I probably won’t be doing it again.  A few days ago, I wrote about the two peak periods of snowfall in Okarche, and commented on the fact that the medium range models were suggesting snow around 29 January.  That just happened to be the start of the second peak period.

The only reason I mentioned that then was because the models were displaying an incredible amount of consistency in the timing of the upcoming powerful system.  Now, a few days later, they still have had amazing consistency with regard to timing and the strength of the predicted storm.  The track forecast has bounced around a little bit, ranging from the Red River Valley to northern Kansas.  Most of the solutions have centered on an intense cyclone moving out of the northern Texas panhandle, racing northeastward toward the Great Lakes. 

The sad part about the current predicted path is that much of Oklahoma would likely remain dry with strong winds, varying temperatures, and blowing dust – with snow remaining to our north and storms to the southeast.  A track farther south would introduce snow to the forecast, and a track to the north would introduce more rainfall.

Because we are talking about a storm nine days out, confidence associated with the current model solutions is low, but higher than what would usually be found.  A worst case scenario would include fierce blizzard conditions in the Plains and Midwest, while sufficient shear and instability could result in a severe weather outbreak for the middle and lower Mississippi Valley. 

At least it is something to look at in the days to come, instead of just the boring, dry cold frontal passages every few days.

Where’s the snow?

It seems to be a common question while rolling through the month of January, but how unusual is a middle of January without snowfall? Not very after looking back at 20 years worth of data.

In Okarche, there are two peaks of snowfall. The first extends from December 24th until January 4th. In this peak period, snow tops out at about 30% of the years of record. It was during this period that we have seen our only accumulating snowfall this season.

A second peak occurs from January 29th until February 10th. During this period, snow tops out at about 40% of the years of record. Our last significant snows occurred during this time frame. 7.1 inches of snow fell on February 1st, 2011, with 4.8 inches falling on February 9th of that year.

The latest medium range global models do not indicate snow in the near future. They do, however, show a major storm moving through the Plains on – January 29th of all things. Time will tell…

Okarche, Oklahoma