Hang in there….

It will be a hot Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (5th,6th,7th) in Oklahoma as the state remains under the influence of strong high pressure aloft.  However, it appears certain now that relief is on the way.  Several models and consecutive runs of those models are in agreement that the upper high will shift westward and take up a position over the Rockies by Sunday.  This will allow mid level flow to become northerly across the Plains for most of the upcoming week.  Also, this will allow a cool front to move into the northern part of the state on Sunday morning – which will move to the Red River by late Sunday.  Showers and thunderstorms will form along and behind the front on Sunday, with a decent shot at rain for most areas.  While the upcoming week will be mostly dry, temperatures may have trouble reaching seasonal normal.  The better news is that this change in the weather pattern may last for an extended period of time.  It is quite possible that seasonably mild July temperatures could be with us for at least a week or more.

June 28

The high temperature in Okarche today was 102 degrees.  This tied the record for the date which was previously reached in 1998.

O.K…. time to check out some more daily fun from around the U.S.  We get to add Ohio to the mix where the record high was set in Toledo at 103 degrees.  This breaks a record that dates back to 1934.

In Dayton, Ohio, the record high of 102 degrees tied the record for not only the date, but the entire month of June.

To Indiana… by 3 p.m., the temperature in Indianapolis had reached 104 degrees.  This set a record for the date and the month of June.  It was also just two degrees away from the all time record temperature of 106 set on July 14, 1936.

In Kentucky… the high temperature at Jackson reached 100 degrees which broke the daily record by 8 degrees and set an all time high for the month of June.

In Arkansas…. all time records for the month of June were set in Little Rock (107 degrees), and Harrison (107 degrees).  Evening Shade, AR hit 111 degrees.

In Missouri… all time records for the month of June were set in Springfield, Rolla-Vichy and West Plains.

At the Muscatine Airport in Iowa, the heat index reached 121 degrees.

Hill City, Kansas set another record high today of 111 degrees….breaking the old record set in 1933.

On June 27… Salina, KS had a low temperature of 81 degrees.  This broke the previous high-low record of 78 set in 2005.

Dalhart and Borger, Texas both set record highs of 107 degrees today.


Heat…..and heat….

Okarche did not set a record high temperature on the 27th.  The high reached 102 degrees.  Unfortunately, there was a big slug of low level moisture that moved in overnight.  While this keep the temperature down somewhat… it increases the discomfort index.  So… with only a high of 102 degrees, combined with a dew point that reached 72 degrees… we ended up with a heat index of 110.  This is borderline extreme heat warning where everyone is encouraged to just stay inside an air conditioned building during the heat of the day.  For those that don’t have one…..find one.  A bar, a library, a mall…. someplace that can give you shelter until the heat of the day has passed.  The fire department will respond to a lot of heat related deaths this time of year.  You can usually tell the signs that someone has died in the house when the flies are near the doors and windows ready to get out.  Not a pretty sight, but happens on a regular basis. 

Let’s see what we can add to the extreme heat files today…. Hill City hit 115 degrees today breaking the old record set in 1940.  McCook, Nebraska reached 109 breaking their old record by two degrees.  Colby, KS hit 112 beating their old record by six degrees.  Dodge City made 111 degrees today smashing their old record of 107 set during the heat wave of 1980. 

A bit more obscure…. Tucson, Arizona will hit 100 degrees through the rest of the month bringing their June total to 28 days.  They have only done that one time before….in 1946.

For Oklahoma….112 was again seen at Buffalo… 111 at Beaver and Freedom… there were a handful of other 110 degree readings across northwest Oklahoma.

Over the past week 1,011 records have been broken around the country, including 251 new daily high temperature records on Tuesday.

Can I interest you in a glass of cool water?

The high temperature in Okarche on June 26th was 105 degrees…. not only does this set a record for the date, but it came only one degree away from the highest June temperature ever.  This is getting scary.  Ending in May, 21 of the past 26 months have seen Oklahoma temperatures above normal.  It seems like every time you turn around, we are doing something else incredible on the hot side of things.  It also seems likely that this is only the beginning.  The spans of this heat wave is incredible.  Miles City, MT hit 111 degrees….just a couple of degrees off the all time Montana record.  McCook, Nebraska hit 115… just a couple of degrees off the all time Nebraska record.  Denver hit their highest temperature ever of 105 degrees for the second day in a row.  Buffalo and Freedom, Oklahoma hit 112 degrees today.  There were more than a dozen sites in the state with a high of at least 110 degrees.  Drought is expanding again, temperatures are getting hot even in areas that have had rainfall, wildfires in the Rockies are burning like, well – wildfire.  If current model data is correct, Atlanta will soon hit their all time highest temperature of record at 105 degrees.  I don’t want to start an argument about climate change, but good grief, ALL OF THIS can’t be associated with bad instrumentation as our fine Senator Inhofe would lead you to believe.  In fact, I haven’t heard a lot out of him lately on the subject.  I’ll save you the time checking the forecast for the next week.  Hot.  With regard to fire weather in the state, I think we will get by the 4th of July without much trouble, but by mid-month look for the red flags to start coming up.

Risk/Reward issue puts end to the storm chase season… Bring on the lightning!

With questionable reward waiting at the end of what could have been a very long amount of driving, the planned trip north has been called off.  It was starting to appear that I might be lucky to get two chase days out of six or seven full days of driving.  This will effectively put an end to the 2012 storm chase season.  Since keeping accurate records, there has only been one other June where I haven’t had a chase – that was in 1991.  Also, the 3,066 chase miles is the lowest amount ever in a chase season – knocking out 1995′s – 3,306.  The numbers make it sound like a very uninteresting year.  While in fact, it was pretty decent.  Of the 9 chase days, there was only 1 true bust.  Storms were seen on a couple of other days.  Supercells were observed on 6 out of the 9 days, and tornadoes were observed on 2 days.  4 tornadoes were observed on March 18th, and 9 tornadoes were observed on April 14th.  If the percentages were the same every year, they would all be great seasons.  It was just the quick and dramatic shut down during the month of June that put a damper on the season as a whole.

As has become tradition, today (or the first day after I mark the end of the storm chase season), marks the start of the summer lightning season which will run through the end of August.  Lightning photography interest shot up dramatically with the advent of digital SLR’s – and it became a big focus for me in 2004.  Shooting lightning mirrors storm chasing in a lot of ways.  I will still go out with the same equipment, it’s just that lightning is the only requirement for a storm to have.  Only one time have I stumbled across a weak tornado – August 26, 2009.  The limited threat of tornadoes means a limited number of storm chasers.  Usually, I am the only one out taking pictures.  Summer storms have their own little quirks which can make them a challenge.  While it’s nice that they move slower than spring storms, they also can have erratic movements.  They can form and die quickly meaning that you have to be on one from the start or you may miss the whole show.  All it takes is weak forcing of a very moist atmosphere to get things sparking, so you may end up shooting lightning at 7 a.m. just as easy as you could at 7 p.m.  I take advantage of every chance I get which can be tiring.  I’ve gone out at 9 p.m. before thinking I would only be out about an hour and end up rolling back in at 3 a.m.

Last season ended up being a good one despite the battle with heat and dust caused by the 2011 drought.  A summary of my favorite lightning shots can be found here: http://www.pbase.com/okweatherwatch/11summary

Tue – June 19

Well, it is looking like it is finally time for me to spread my wings and fly.  I have one more day (Tuesday) to complete some projects around the house, and then will hit the road on Wednesday for what could possibly be at least a five day trip to the central and northern high Plains.  For all practical purposes, the severe storms season in Oklahoma is finished.  The summer high pressure area is beginning to build over the region and the jet stream has taken up residence across the far northern U.S.  Welcome back to hot and dry folks.

I am getting into a limited period that I need to take advantage of severe storm chasing if I’m going to do so.  With that said, I am in the process of completing around the house projects and planning on hitting the open road this Wednesday.  My first stop will be the cold front which will make it into southwest Kansas.  All indications are that there will be high based severe storms along this boundary during the evening which will likely allow for some lightning photography potential.  After that, the yell will be get north!

Moisture will start flowing northwest up the upslope regions of Colorado/Wyoming/Montana… while positioned under the jet stream / which will have wobbles no doubt / but generally be found north of a Colorado/Wyoming line by the end of the week and through the weekend.  Yes, I’m taking my passport just in case some of this activity decides to start speaking Canadian.

The setup looks favorable for day after day production of supercell storms and their associated structure/lightning across a vast region of pretty landscape.  The worst case scenario is that I get to see some places I haven’t seen before.  The best – well – the chance of seeing nature at its finest in areas where most storm chasers dare to go.

There will be a few of the hard cores out there… but for most storm chasers, the time and money has been spent.  Roads will be less crowded and given the right couple of storms, it has the potential of producing the big payoff that people will enjoy the images of.

With fingers, eyes and toes crossed, I raise a toast to some high plains magic over the next week or so…..

When data allows…..i’ll keep the blog updated on my progress……

A long hot summer ahead?

Oklahoma just had the warmest spring of record.  Decent rains a couple of weeks ago are starting to become a distant memory as things dry out, and warm up.  This afternoon – the heat index temperature in Okarche reached 100 degrees for the first time this year.  Not too bad I figured with as hot as it was last year.  Then I looked back… our first 100 degree heat index temperature this year is ACTUALLY two days earlier than it was in last years hottest summer of record.  That’s disconcerting.  The three month outlook from the Climate Prediction Center is calling for above normal temperatures and near normal precipitation for the state.  Unfortunately, normal precipitation in summer in Oklahoma isn’t that much.  We’ll wait and watch…. and have that aircon ready.

June 6

A weak upper low will slowly move east from the southeast Texas panhandle into central Oklahoma today (Wed) and tomorrow.  There are going to be numerous bouts of showers and thunderstorms associated with this system.  Chances exist almost every hour, but should be more numerous each day as we start to heat up from late morning into early afternoon.  The slow movement will provide localized areas of very heavy rain, but also allow for the potential of lightning photography without having to move much.  Best chances will be west and south of Okarche….but hopefully close enough to go out and take a look.

With regard to organized severe potential… long range models are now starting to hint at many days of severe potential over the central and northern Plains through the rest of the month.  Our dry spell of organized severe storms may be coming to and end and we could see a very active mid-late June.

June 4

Ended up staying at home most of the day yesterday.  Still not quite sure what we were missing, but there were never any signs that decent storms would organize.  Finally, about 1 a.m. last night – I drove a few miles west of Okarche for some lightning photo ops.  This wasn’t too productive either and I gave up on it after an hour or so.

General thunder expected mainly in western and southern Oklahoma today.  Obviously there is enough instability to support an isolated severe threat, but once again there will not be enough flow aloft or forcing for organized severe thunderstorms.

June 3

We have had a lot of storms considering how quiet it has been.  I know that doesn’t make much sense, but we haven’t had enough flow aloft or instability recently to support many organized severe threats.  Meanwhile, we have had enough subtle areas of lift to produce almost daily bouts of showers and thunderstorms.  Last night’s storms blasted through between 2 and 3 a.m. giving us another 0.40+ inch of rainfall.  Today *might* be a day where we actually get out the door.  There will be several surface boundaries to work with, more seasonal moisture and hopefully adequate flow aloft to create scattered supercell storms by mid-afternoon.  The initial target area is a broad one which extends from south central Kansas – southwestward to the northeast corner of the Texas panhandle.  The nice thing about this entire area is that the storms will track southeastward – bringing us home.  Chance of getting out today, about 70%.

Okarche, Oklahoma