Clouds linger today keeping temperatures from warming up. By Thursday sunshine is expected to get us into the upper 60s, by Friday expect 70s and then 80s for the weekend. A strong cold front will drop us down for Monday.
La Nina. One of the worst things you can ever hear a meteorologist in Oklahoma say. Why? Because it’s the cause for the very dry conditions that we have seen recently. But, there are now signs that La Nina is weakening and could be outta here by the summer time.
Sea Surface Temperatures have been returning back to normal conditions across the “LA NINA ZONES” of The Pacific. But, while we will see the conditions weaken, or go from below normal to normal, they will still exist for the spring season which means that we will still see the trend of above normal temperatures persist.
The long range outlook does show an improvement in our potential to see decent rainfall, but keep in mind, it’s a slow improvement. The outlook doesn’t bring in above normal rainfall until late this summer.
Right now, the outlook brings in an increased chance for above normal rainfall for Northern Oklahoma and equal chance for either above normal rainfall or below normal rainfall for those south of I-40, but not until August. So, the light is at the end of the tunnel, it’s just a waiting game…and if you’re like me.. I hate to wait.
We all know it’s been incredibly dry across Oklahoma over the past 6 months, and as we head towards the spring severe weather season, many are wondering if we’ll even see any severe storms. So, let’s discuss. First things first, it’s important to mention that the research that has been done in finding a correlation between La Nina and tornadoes is rather weak since La Nina is a phenomenon that has only been reviewed for a just a few decades, and the data is hard to research since not every year is classified as La Nina. So, what we do know is this: There have been signs that when we are in a La Nina season, that the trends lean towards seeing an enhanced risk for tornadoes and severe storms well east of here.
As you can see by the map above, The Ohio Valley and Dixie Alley will likely see the greatest chance for severe storms this spring, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t see any here in Oklahoma. We still will have our chance for severe storms as well. As a matter of fact, some of the biggest tornado outbreaks have occurred during a La Nina season.
During our last La Nina season, which came in 2008 and lasted into the spring season, there were 1690 tornadoes reported, with Oklahoma seeing 77 tornadoes in all. Last year, which was an El Nino season, we had 536 fewer tornadoes. So, this year may be more active than what we had last year, especially east of here. And, for those of you that remember the 1974 “SUPER OUTBREAK”, which occurred during a strong La Nina year, there were a record number of tornadoes reported in a single day. 148 to be exact with 6 “F5″ tornadoes reported. And, check out where the outbreak occurred.
The outbreak fell right within the region that we listed above as having the greatest chance for seeing severe storms. So, what can we take out of all of this? We will see severe storms this spring, and we’re likely to see a high number of tornadoes, but the greatest chance of seeing this happen will be east of here. As for Oklahoma, yes, we too will see our chance for severe storms and the recent trend in low rain chances will not play a huge impact on the outlook this spring.
We all know it’s been a tough past few months here in Oklahoma and in Texas. The fires, the winds, the drought…and now… the wildflowers..or lack of! I know I blog a lot about flowers, but to me, the spring flowers are a good visual of the weather we just experienced. A poor showing of flowers usually means you had a dry fall and winter. A good showing of wildflowers usually means you had a very wet fall, a cool and wet winter. Sadly, this spring season will likely remind me of just how dry this past fall was.
There is still hope for a good bloom of flowers, mainly Indian Paintbrush and Texas Bluebonnets, but our time is running out. What we need is a good soaking rainfall and mild temperatures. This week may help the flowers, but chances of rain won’t help. We need to see the rain actually come down.
So, what is my outlook for the spring season when it comes to wildflowers? The ongoing drought and the lack of rain that we had in the fall prevented many seeds from germinating and laying down a root system for the winter season. And while I don’t expect this season to be a complete dud, I do believe that the this wildflower season will be less impressive than last year. The good news out of all of this is that last year, numerous seeds were dropped from the flowers. The wildflower seeds that we see here in Oklahoma and Texas are prepared to handle our extreme weather conditions. Because of that, they have a coating on them that needs to see plenty of rainfall to weather it down so that it can sprout. So, if we have a dry season, then all will be ok for the seed to remain safe and ready to go once we get the right conditions.
If you are getting the itch to see a good field of blooms, there are reports around Dallas and south towards The Hill Country of some fields of Bluebonnets starting to show decent color.
Earlier this week I posted my thoughts on rain (and even snow) chances in Oklahoma for this coming Monday. At the time, two major computer models, the European and the GFS, were indicating a good chance of rain coming into the state by Monday. The European was even so bold as to predict snow in the state, perhaps as far south as OKC. I was enthused at the prospect of getting some much-needed rainfall. But believing model solutions six days out can lead to problems. Aspiring meteorologists take note.
Case in point, the model solutions changed radically by the next day, and the hope for rain on Monday evaporated. Let me show you the European solution for Monday from earlier this week:
Notice how the model predicted a wet and cold day for Monday. Cold enough for snow! Now look at the latest European prediction for Monday:
As you can clearly see, most of the rainfall has been eliminated for Oklahoma, and the rain/snow line (the blue dashed line) is all the way up in Nebraska instead of dipping into Oklahoma.
The lesson here is that putting too much faith in the models, especially several days in the future, is usually a bad thing. Sometimes they can give you indications of what is to come, after all the models did show a significant cool down in our future ( as I type this it’s only 47 degrees). But relying too heavily on them can lead to poor forecasts, so take them with a large grain of salt, and use them with caution.
It is chilly out there this morning but not nearly as cold as yesterday and the winds are nearly calm, so that helps too. Afternoon highs will be in the 70s with mostly sunny skies. The area of low pressure that pushed through the region produced a few showers in northern Oklahoma but most of the state stayed dry. As we head into the weekend a cold front is expected to cool thing down considerable. Highs on Saturday will be in the 50s and 60s with lows Sunday morning dipping into the 30s.
Rain chances will be better next week. There will be two weather systems affecting us.
It’s been a dream come true of mine. To see the rain return to the forecast for more than just a day or 2. And, if the models are correct, we could be seeing many days of rain arrive into the forecast as early as next week. Of course, word of caution, the chances of rain are not great and the widespread rainfall potential is not high. But still, it’s something to get excited for as a low pressure system in The Pacific Northwest throws little disturbances in our direction startingMonday Night.
The potential for severe storms will be low and there may be a brief lull come mid-week before the main piece of energy rolls this way that “could” produce widespread soaking rain. Either or, moisture is in the forecast and some much cooler weather as we head into next week. So, how much rain could we see? It’s possible that a quarter inch could occur during the first half of the week with some places potentially getting a half inch by the end of the week.
PS- Don’t put that winter coat away just quite yet, late next week could be somewhat chilly for late March/early April.
I feel like this has been a broken record story that we blog about every week. And here we go again… with another week, and another story about the drought getting even worse. EXTREME DROUGHT status has now spread into Oklahoma City and SW towards Lawton. As a matter of fact, the last 120 days, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet have now been the driest on record for Central and Southwestern Oklahoma. The average rainfall/snowmelt for Central Oklahoma during this period is about 2.42 inches, or a deficit of 5.88 inches. Southwestern Oklahoma has only averaged .76 inches, or a deficit of 5.09 inches and Oklahoma City has averaged 2.35 inches, or a deficit of 4.94 inches.
Sadly, the outlook for long term soaking rain is not looking good for now. Though, there are signs that La Nina is weakening, which would be great news in helping get our rainfall totals back up, but the effects may not be most pronounched until next winter.