Archive for March, 2006

More Storms For The Weekend
March 31, 2006

While today has been a quiet weather day, storm chances will begin to increase later tonight through tomorrow.

STORM CHANCES TONIGHT: A cold front has slipped through much of Oklahoma today, but it has now stalled out across the south. Later tonight, the front will move back to the north as a warm front, returning moist air to the state. As this happens, we’ll see a few thunderstorms break out across southern Oklahoma. It would not surprise me to see a a couple of these in central Oklahoma around daybreak tomorrow.

SATURDAY STORMS: Some of you will wake up to a few storms Saturday morning, but those will quickly move to the east. Much of the late morning and afternoon will be dry before another round of storms develops across western Oklahoma after 3:00 pm. There is a good chance that any storms that develop tomorrow afternoon will be severe with high winds, hail and even a few tornadoes. The storms will move east and most likely affect the OKC metro area late tomorrow evening, or overnight tomorrow night.

SUNDAY: Thunderstorms will likely move into eastern Oklahoma Sunday morning, so dry weather will be the rule for central and western Oklahoma. Sunday will be warm and very windy with a high fire danger.

EXTENDED OUTLOOK: Monday will be dry. Tuesday will offer a slight chance of a thunderstorm, but higher storm chances will be Wednesday and Thursday.

SPRING AHEAD: Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour before you go to bed Saturday night. Make sure you also change the batteries in your smoke detectors.

It looks like a busy weekend for the weather team. Make sure you stay tuned to Eyewitness News 5 for further details on this this weekend’s severe weather threat.



My Brain Is Fried
March 31, 2006

What a busy day! We went into our wall to wall coverage of severe weather at about 10:45 am. We ended at 5:30 pm. That’s almost 7 hours of continuous coverage. I’m proud of our team. We lived up to our promise of giving information to keep you and your families safe. The best part of today was that for all of the storms, there were no reports of any serious damage.

Just for future reference, when we are in severe weather coverage mode, you can follow all the action by watching our live stream right here on our website. We did that today and I’ve already received comments from people watching in Pennsylvania, Iowa and Alabama. What a wonderful thing the internet can be if used responsibly. If you missed our coverage completely, we are working on putting the best 10 to 15 minutes on the website. We should have that up and running on Friday.

Weatherwise, Friday will be a quiet day with sunshine and temps in the 70s. We’ll have another chance of storms Saturday afternoon into Sunday morning. Some of those will likely be severe. After a break Sunday afternoon into Monday, more storms will be possible Tuesday through Thursday of next week. It looks like a very typical spring pattern with storm chances coming in every few days.


On the Road
March 31, 2006

As I write this, we are southbound on I-35 from the Stillwater area. We stopped to do some live reports for the 5pm and 6 pm newscasts. This was a very unusual day, but we’re all glad there wasn’t any damage to report. Seems like the fires behind the storms were more damaging than the storms themselves.

Terri Watkins and I began our day about 9am. There were already severe storms. We started after one that went north of town, but it was moving very fast and we weren’t in a good position to stay with it. We went north of town on Highway 74 and then followed some storms to the northeast. When those died out, we headed towards Stillwater for another storm moving that way.

When that storm died out, the dry line in western Oklahoma began to fire. We quickly moved back to the west and picked up the leading storms near Kingfisher. We set up for a live shot and sent back video of that storm as it raced by. As we prepared to follow it towards Enid, another storm separated from the line and started towards us from the south. It’s always easier to deal with a storm moving towards you than one moving away.

That storm looked like it might produce a tornado at any time. It had all the right characteristics. So after doing some live reports near Cashion, we headed after the storm. Fortunately, our technology allows us to show you pictures was we drive. Until last storm season, we could only send still pictures while we were moving. When the storms are moving as fast as they were today, it is difficult to stop and do live reports.

We followed that storm all the way to Osage County (through Stillwater again). It was moving towards Kansas and fortunately it never produced a tornado (although it got close). We then headed back towards I-35 and that’s when I sent the previous blog entry. We reported live from the side of I-35 near the Stillwater turnoff. You could see the blowing dust to our west.

As I write now, Terri has us back to Guthrie. Looks like the day is done and the weather has moved east of our area. I just hope the winds don’t come up for this evening. We could all use a break.

With Terri Watkins, Southbound on I-35,

Chris Lee, Eyewitness News 5

On the Stormy Road
March 30, 2006

Just minute while we are between storms. We’ve been on the road since 9am and only one bathroom break. It is now 3:30. Our current location is east of Ponca City on Highway 60. We followed a storm from just north of Oklahoma CIty to Fairfax in Osage County. It had several warnings, but never produced a tornado.

I don’t like storms that move faster than the speed limit. Actually, today’s storms were moving at 45-55 miles-per-hour, but then they didn’t have to follow roads or speed limit signs. We’re trying to get back to the next wave of storms or else drop south towards the city. Last I heard, there was a large storm in the Garvin County area. Hope everything is OK down there.

I’ll finsih this up when I get time.

On Highway 60, coming into PoncaCity,

Chris Lee with Terri Watkins, Eyewitness News 5

Severe Weather Still On Track…
March 30, 2006

“The devil is in the details…”

A fomous quote thrown around weather offices nationwide. Tomorrow is a prime example.

We still have a powerful storm system approaching from the west and computer model consensus on it’s placement and speed is becoming more in-line. However, just because they say one thing, doesn’t mean the opposite won’t occur. We say meteorology is an in-exact science because there are variables in the atmosphere we have yet to fully understand. With all of that said…on to the “details”.

Storms may still try to fire out west tonight as more moisture works into the state and the storm system approaches. They will likely be elevated in nature and contain some small hail and gusty winds. If they do fire, they would move into central Oklahoma by early morning, say around 9am. However, if these storms fail to form overnight, then things could get off to a rather bumpy severe start by late morning across west central Oklahoma as the dryline moves in causing storms to fire then. These storms would rapidly become severe and race off to the east at 40+mph. So, the metro could see severe storms around noon Thursday. Then by late afternoon all of the storms would be in the far E and SE parts of the state. The storms tomorrow will be capable of producing large hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes the farther east they travel. So it looks like E OK and NW AR, SW MO, and SE KS would be hit a lot harder than central Oklahoma due to the timing of this system. A major outbreak is still on tap for those areas. The only thing that could lesson the severe weather impact, would be if storms do form tonight and drift slowly over these areas, keeping the atmosphere more stable tomorrow. (ie, more clouds, cooler temps).

As much as we hate to say it, we can’t be more specific than this at this time of writing Wednesday afternoon. However, by early Thursday morning, the picture will be much clearer and pinpointing “the devil” of the details will be possible.


Spring in Oklahoma
March 29, 2006

In my mind, today is the first day of a prolonged stretch of springtime weather. We have the threat for severe storms this afternoon, and with humidity back in the air, it smells like spring.

The chase plan is set for today. Severe storms may form along the dry line in the Panhandle late this afternoon, and will move toward the Oklahoma border. The storms will be isolated, if they form at all. Thunderstorms across central Texas overnight disrupted the flow of humidity into west Texas last night, so there is not as much moisture as there would have otherwise been. This may keep storms from developing this afternoon, but as soon as the low level jet kicks in tonight, there will be plenty of moisture, and storms will develop. Our crews will be in place this afternoon in far west Oklahoma, just in case something goes before dark. The preliminary plan is for Chris Lee and StarCam to head toward Altus, and Jay Beauchamp and Kevin Sims to head toward Erick. Mike Jantz will also be in the Woodward area. We have a weather discussion at 1-2 pm before the crews head out, so this plan is subject to change.

Springtime brings severe weather, fast and furious. We are expecting another severe weather day tomorrow. Severe weather is possible Saturday and Sunday, and there is another storm system heading our way for next Tuesday…. so expect a prolonged stretch of (perhaps rough) springtime weather.

So….. is winter over?

I am going to gamble that it is. The average last frost for Oklahoma City is April Fools Day, and this stretch of mild, humid spring weather will continue past April 1st. I am going to hope that the cold weather is over, and will be planting my tender garden plants this weekend. Any garden expert will tell you to wait until 2 weeks after the average last frost to plant tomatoes, but I always like to plant as early as I can, and then scramble to protect the plants if a frost or freeze threatens. I take no responsibility for your garden if we do have another freeze, but my neighbors always like to know when the weatherman plants his tomatoes, so I thought I would post it here as well.

As I have mentioned before, hail (and rabbits) are my main garden enemies…. I can handle a little cold April weather.

An update to the severe weather outlook
March 28, 2006

Since the weekend, the computer models have become more in line with each other. The first being the system will come in a little faster which should focus the severe weather more east of I-35 and the second that there will definitely be a major severe weather outbreak.

As the system starts to move into the southern rockies, the dry line will set up along the OK/TX panhandle by tomorrow afternoon. After a round of morning showers and storms, there should be enough clearing to allow daytime heating to destabilize that area of the state so that more storms will form. These would be isolated in nature and exhibit supercell characteristics with large hail and damaging winds the primary threat. The area of concern would be from around Woodward south to Altus by 5pm. If the computer models underestimate the amount of moisture present, then a low tornado threat could occur with lower cloud bases.

Thursday is still a complicated day. Although the system looks like it will come in quicker, that doesn’t mean we are out of the woods as far as severe weather goes across the metro. In addition, a slew of other factors could complicate things, such as will there be morning storms that limit our instability for the afternoon or will those storms move off to the NE and limit the instability over NE OK, SW MO, where better dynamics will be located for severe storms. A lot of these factors will become clear Thursday morning. If the model consensus is correct and the highest risk of severe weather is NE of us, we would still have the possibility to see storm initiation overhead. It’s not often the dryline makes it to or even past I-35. It usually stops somewhere across western parts of the state, but in any event, it will likely be in a position to which storms will fire very close if not overhead Thursday afternoon and then race northeast at 40+ mph. So our window for severe weather would be small.


A Stormy Mid Week
March 28, 2006

A beautiful day out there right now with sunshine and light winds. Temperatures in the 60s make it feel quite pleasant.

Tonight And Tomorrow: While this evening will remain dry, we’ll have a slight chance of thunderstorms developing after midnight tonight as moist air from Texas spreads into Oklahoma. Storms will become more plentiful tomorrow morning before moving off to the east tomorrow afternoon. Another round of storms will develop tomorrow evening in western Oklahoma along the dryline. Some of those storms will be severe with large hail and gusty winds being the main threat. The storms will move east and affect the metro tomorrow night into Thursday morning.

Thursday: As stated above, Thursday could start off with a few storms early. As the dryline moves east into central Oklahoma, a new batch of storms will likely fire along it. The debate continues to be exactly where the dryline sets up. It looks like it will be east of I-35, which means the greatest threat for severe weather on Thursday will be east of Oklahoma City. But with thunderstorms…expect the unexpected. We’ll keep a close eye on this as even a small shift to the west could bring rough weather to central Oklahoma.

Extended outlook: Friday and Saturday will be dry, with thunderstorms in the forecast for Sunday, and again next Tuesday.

See you at 5, 6 and 10 pm on Eyewitness News 5.


Destry Goes Home
March 28, 2006

Saturday Morning, I was assigned to cover one of the sadder news stories for the week. Destry Horton had passed away and his family wanted to accompany his body back to his hometown of Rush Springs. For those of you who don’t know, Destry was a Chickasha firefighter badly burned in the wildfire near Duncan 24 days ago.

Destry’s brother Darrell was there, along with a Highway Patrol Trooper and a Chickasha Firefighter. That was the procession. Just a small, simple affair, Darrell assured me. Well, the people of Oklahoma had other ideas.

Somehow word got out. Firefighters and law enforcement officers lined the route, paying their respects to a fallen comrade. This “small simple affair” was met at Newcastle by most of the fire department lining an overpass, helmets over their hearts. A single Newcastle brush pumper joined the procession.

In Chickasha, the procession took on the feel of a hero’s parade. With sirens at full volume, Chickasha Police and Grady County Sheriff’s deputies guarded each intersection as the procession twisted its way through town. Several Chickasha fire trucks joined the procession.

The parade then headed south on Highway 81 towards Rush Springs. This was Destry’s old stomping ground. He grew up in Rush and everyone around here knew him. That’s why they came. At every intersection, more fire trucks. Minco, Blanchard, Ninnekah… And some volunteer departments I had never heard of. As we approached Rush Springs, the line had grown to more than a mile. Lights flashing and sirens wailing. A small simple affair.

Several hundred people lined old highway 81, the main street through Rush Springs. Among them, Destry’s dad, other family members, his friends. Waving American flags, they solemnly watched the procession. There wasn’t a dry eye anywhere. The Rush Springs Fire Department had pulled the trucks out in front of the station. Some of the guys were there, but one piece of equipment was missing. The brush pumper. It seems there was a grass fire just south of town and several of the firefighters were out fighting the fire. It wasn’t a big deal, a controlled burn that got a little out of hand. But it took them away from what they really wanted to be doing.

Such is the nature of firefighting.

In Rush Springs,

Chris Lee, Eyewitness News 5

A Busy Weather Pattern
March 27, 2006

Springtime is back in Oklahoma. No more concerns for snow in the state. In fact, temperatures will be running above normal over the next several days with a few opportunities for thunderstorms.

Tonight Through Tuesday: Our weather during this time will be pleasant. Lows tonight will be in the 30s and 40s, with highs tomorrow in the 60s. Winds will be north tonight 6-12 mph, and gradually become southeast tomorrow at 6-12 mph.

Tuesday Night Through Thursday: Thunderstorm chances will be increasing during this time period as a storm system moves in from the west. There will be a slight chance of storms Tuesday night, but higher chances will come Wednesday and Thursday. There will be a few severe storms Wednesday night. Severe potential on Thursday is tricky, due to the exact timing of the system coming in from the west. Right now it looks like the highest risk will be along and east of I-35 for Thursday. If the system slows down, the risk will include more of central and western Oklahoma. Stay tuned for updates! In addition to storms, we can expect windy weather both of these days with gusts over 40 mph on Thursday. The fire danger will be very high on Thursday, especially in western Oklahoma.

Friday and Saturday: These days look dry and mild with highs in the 60s and 70s.

Sunday and Monday: Thunderstorm chances will be increasing again as another storm system approaches.

This Just In: The burn ban is back in effect for most of Oklahoma with the exception of 10 counties in the southeast. Charcoal grilling is allowed in the burn ban area.