Archive for February, 2006

is it summer???
February 28, 2006

It seems like this is quickly becoming the winter to remember. Temperatures have felt more spring like this winter with the occasional bout of winter tossed in just to remind us that it is indeed late winter. The storm team is gearing up and storm season is just around the corner… I CANNOT WAIT!!! Hopefully this storm season will bring some much needed moisture to the area, and quell the wildfires. Wildfires ran rampant, burning more than 633,000 acres – nearly 1,000 square miles – prompting a FEMA disaster declaration. Hopes were dashed as the spring rains stayed away. Instead, the state was met with blowing dust and summer-like heat. Some meteorologists blamed the intensity of the drought that year on La Niña, the periodic cooling of the equatorial Pacific waters. The year was 1996, and the similarities to 2006 are frightening. The wheat belt, the area in Oklahoma where the majority of the winter wheat crop is grown, runs from southwestern through north central Oklahoma. Within that belt, the rainfall statistics are very similar during the two time periods with deficits of nearly 5 inches. There is some residual soil moisture remaining in the soil in both north central and southeastern Oklahoma. Once the weather begins to warm up, however, moisture demand by plants will increase dramatically, especially by the winter wheat crop. Hopefully spring storms will bring some much needed rainfall.


February’s Lamb-like Exit
February 28, 2006

What a beautiful day this has been for the last day of February. We’ll see March start off in the same fashion, in fact, it’s likely we’ll see some high temperature records being broken tomorrow across Oklahoma. Unfortunately a strong southwest wind will accompany the warm weather producing an extreme fire danger threat. Cooler air will spill into the state tomorrow night and Thursday with a small chance of rain. The best chance of showers and thunderstorms will be Friday into Saturday. While all the ingredients for severe storms will not be present, we’ll still keep a very close eye on the potential for a few rowdy storms during that time frame.

I Like March
February 28, 2006

Our first 80 degree days and Bradford Pear trees starting to bloom… it must be March! I always get excited with the changing of season, and as we turn from winter into spring, I am especially excited this year. As things start to turn green this month, we can finally stop worrying about the fire danger. Aside from the loss of property, fire in Oklahoma is really not a bad thing. If people did not live here, the state would burn most winters. Fire keeps the grasslands alive. I have recently heard news stories about the huge growth of the cedar tree population in Oklahoma. Those trees are weeds here, and suck up lots of much needed water in the summer…. plus they basically explode during wildfires, creating a danger for firefighters. If we had the natual wildfires in our state, we would not have the abundance of cedar trees, and in dry years, would not have the catastrophic fires we have had this year.

Don’t let the 80 degree heat fool you… While it starts to look like spring in March, keep in mind that it is still one of our snowier months. The cold of winter wanes in March, but the moisture of spring arrives, and if the moisture arrives before the cold leaves, we can get some descent snow.

We have heard alot lately of “La Nina”, which has developed this winter. This is cooler than normal waters in the Pacific Ocean, and is the opposite of “El Nino”. For the southern plains, La Nina typically means dry weather…. which is probably one of the reasons that it has been dry this winter. I have always thought that a La Nina spring is dry, but the thunderstorms that do form have a little extra umph. So, while it may be a spring with less thunderstorms, it may not be a spring with less severe weather.

Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains…
February 27, 2006

PHEW! The wind has really kicked back up again!!!

Grassfires are the story of the day. Looks like a downsloping flow setting up over Oklahoma should push temps into the mid 70’s to 80’s. Gradient differences should kick the winds up quite a bit monday and taper off into tuesday. Grassfires create an interesting dilema for covering grassfires. They aren’t like covering tornados or other forms of weather. They pose an interesting challenge to get close enough to them to see flames. The firefighters have an advantage, brush pumpers are equiped to run through the trees, debris piles, and brush… hence the name– brushpumper. My news vehicle is a BIT more of a challenge. The bosses would be none to happy if I came back every other fire with gaping holes in the tires. We use GPS and mapping to find our way into remote areas to get the VERY BEST coverage possible. Fires aren’t as predictable as tornadic thunderstorms, but over the last few months the OCFD, and all of the FD’s have become EXPERTS at fighting fires. Im sure that many other states will be asking for Oklahoman’s knowledge about firefighting in the future.

Severe Weather Kicks Off Early
February 27, 2006

As we kick off the official start to “severe weather awareness week” an overall change in the jetstream will lead to the possibility of severe storms across the central and southern plains by Friday and Saturday. Adequate shear and moisture look to be present. The question on Friday is, will there be enough surface heating and on Saturday, will a southwest wind scour out all of the moisture to our east. Whichever way it goes, it does look to be an interesting start to the season for someone in the plains.

the summer of winter…
February 24, 2006

It seems like this bizarre weather pattern has deeply rooted itself in the midwest. Record hi temps, and unseasonably warm conditions have leant themselves to perfect weather for grassfires. We had a small taste of winter this week with the wanna-be ice storm, but this weekend looks quite spring like.
There are a handfull of people talking about “this will be the tornado summer.” I personally say keep up the warm weather. Don’t tell your friends though, otherwise everyone will be wanting to move to the best winter retreat… Oklahoma.