Archive for May, 2008

Big Weather News
May 31, 2008

Hurricane High-Risk Areas Lose Residents was the title of an article on the front page of Friday’s USA Today.  The article said that after decades of population growth along the coast, the number of people living full time in regions most vulnerable to damage from hurricanes has decreased.  This shift indicates that the public is finally getting the message that some coastal areas are just too flood prone and vulnerable to damage from a hurricane to be sustainable.

Friday’s USA Today also reported on some of the current tornado statistics from this year.  We’ve had more tornadoes so far this year, about 800, than any of the past ten years through the end of May.  The storms this year have also resulted in the most deaths from tornadoes in ten years.  This year 111 people have been killed by tornadoes.

Another bit of news could be coming from Congress next week.

This week I’ve been in Washington D.C. to attend a scholarship program orientation at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) headquarters.  We heard presentations from all of the branches and line offices of NOAA about who they are and what they are do.  Two of these offices are the National Weather Service and the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, both of which have offices in Norman.

One of the NOAA administrators told us that a bill will be on the floor of the Senate next week that would create a new National Climate Service within NOAA.  A new climate division in NOAA would have an exciting impact on our country as they would be able to study global climate change and forecast possible regional impacts.  However, the vote isn’t expected to pass until the new administration settles in after the November elections.  But whenever this vote does come through, you can expect to hear about it.

– Alek Krautmann

Weather Intern

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Break’s Over…
May 31, 2008

I just returned to work after having 2 1/2 days off.  It was nice that the weather cooperated.  I spent some time in the yard mowing and brushing out the dog (she’s shedding!!!)

We’re going back into an active weather pattern.  We’ve already seen severe thunderstorms in northeastern Oklahoma this morning.  As I type this, there is one huge nasty storm along the Will Rogers Turnpike at Vinita. 

These storms will reinforce a surface front located across southern Kansas/northern Oklahoma.  We’ll be watching that boundary later this afternoon.  There will be plenty of heat and humidity to fuel severe thunderstorms later this afternoon.

Above is the severe weather outlook for this afternoon and tonight.  Note the moderate risk for severe weather in northern Oklahoma.  The threat will exist for very large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes.  Storms should eventually develop into a complex that will move east, then southeast.  We could even see storms in the OKC area later tonight.

Tonight’s storms will push the weak front to the south tonight and tomorrow, cooling temperatures a bit, and keeping the chance for storms in the forecast.

A quick note.  We are *closely* watching this upcoming Thursday.  For the last few days, I’ve been seeing the hints of a potential significant severe weather event in the southern Plains next Thursday.  There’s lots of time between now and then, but you’ll want to monitor the weather for Thursday.  There’s not much time left in storm season, but early June can still be quite nasty. 

Andy

Alma…Already Dissipating…
May 30, 2008

Alma…the first Tropical Storm of the Pacific Hurricane Season is already dissipating.  It was downgraded to a Tropical Depression overnight and is now just a broad area of low pressure.  The circulation will still produce heavy rain from Costa Rica to Belize.  In fact, 10-15 inches of rain is possible over this region and that will likely lead to flooding and the possibility of mud slides in the region.  The circulation is over Honduras right now.   

  The Pacific Hurricane Season starts on May 15th.  The Atlantic Hurricane Season starts June 1st.  That is this Sunday!  According to the outlook issued by NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), there is a 60 to 70 percent chance of 12 to 16 named storms, including 6 to 9 hurricanes and 2 to 5 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale).  Dr. Gray, a professor at Colorado State University puts out a forecast, which is a very highly respected in the world of Tropical Weather.  He calls for 15 named storms.  8 of those he expects to be hurricanes…and 4 are forecasted to be major hurricanes. 

I guess we will see how the season pans out!!

 

Sarah

A Slight Risk for Tonight…
May 30, 2008

A potent weather system tracked across the central plains and Midwest late Thursday into early Friday morning.  Most of the severe weather reports came out of northern Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa and there was 55 Tornado reports…69 wind reports and 102 reports of hail, some of which were the size of baseballs!!  It was rough for that region of the country.  The trailing cold front from that system is expected to make it into the northern portions of the state later tonight.  This may spark up a few storms here close to home but the brunt of the severe weather will stretch from the Mid Mississippi Valley to the Ohio Valley.  We will watching the northern portions of the state later tonight. 

 

Here is a picture of the Outlook area issued by the Storm Predictions Center. 

 

 

 Sarah

Drying Out
May 28, 2008

Looks like this afternoon was the last chance for rain in the area for awhile. A cold front has pushed through, finally bringing some drier air. It certainly was a  wet week for the state, with many areas receiving several inches of rain, most in just a day or two. Here are some of the totals from around the state:

Ponca City: Up to 6″

Red Rock:5.30″

Enid:4.82″

Pauls Valley: 1.55″

Hugo:2.56″

Ardmore: 1.81″

I think we’ll end the week dry and warm. Temperatures should climb to the low 90s in most areas. South winds will kick in, especially by Friday, and that will pull in more humid air, so expect a case of “the muggies” over the weekend.

Rusty

 

A Few Quiet Weather Days
May 28, 2008

Well it looks like we are finally going to get a break from this very active weather pattern that we have been stuck in. Although we may see a few showers today….we are not expecting to see severe storms. Even though many of us stayed dry MOST of the time…there were some rough storms that pushed across the area over the past few days.   Our Mesonet sites indicate that parts of Oklahoma have received about 5-6 inches of rain over the last seven days.  I also checked out the NWS radar estimated rainfall and some isolated locations got about 6-8 inches of rain over the past 7 days.  The Oklahoma City area only got an official reading of .41 inches of rain in the past week but parts of northern Oklahoma received much more that that.

Thursday and Friday look very nice with plenty of sunshine in the forecast. That is great news for kids just getting out of school for the summer. A few days at the pool ahead of you? I am pretty sure that is where I would be!! With more people spending longer hours outside due to school being out, I will take this opportunity to remind you to wear the sunblock and drink plenty of water. Highs are expected to be in the 90s, and with high humidity we may be dealing with heat index values in the upper 90s.

Sarah

Chapter 6–The Finale
May 27, 2008

I’m getting our FAST units ready to track storms for the 6th day in a row.  It’s turned into a cycle.  I get the crews out the door right before I go home for the day, when I come back in early in the morning, the crews are just getting back.  Then we do it all over again.   And again.  And again.  And again.  It’s not just here.  Since last Thurday, there have been 179 reports of tornadoes across the country(that’s the count from the Storm Prediction Center).  That number isn’t final.  For example, the official storm reports from Saturday reflect only four tornadoes in Oklahoma.  As you know, there likely were many more.  Sometimes we later find out that there wasn’t a tornado, but instead strong straightline winds. 

Today’s severe weather scenario has been complicated by the severe weather from last night.  That big complex of storms that rolled across much of the state has really stabilized the atmosphere over central and eastern Oklahoma.  As I write this, that complex is still rolling in Texas. 

The one part of the state that was relatively untouched was southwestern Oklahoma.  It never stormed in Altus, Hollis, or Frederick…and the storms barely made it to Lawton.   This is key in writing my severe weather forecast.

There will be at least one, perhaps two boundaries that we’re going to watch later this afternoon.  One is an outflow boundary created by the storms last night.  That should settle somewhere in southern/western Oklahoma.  The other will be a cold front that will sweep across the state.  The cold front will fire off showers and thunderstorms, that could produce hail and wind.  South of the outflow boundary, where temperatures really warm up and the dewpoints are higher, that’s where more significant severe weather could occur.  And of course, we’ll have to watch where those boundaries collide (the outflow and the cold front), because that’s where a higher chance for tornadoes would be. 

By tomorrow, it will be “cooler and drier”.  At this point, it appears that we should be done with severe weather for the rest of the week.  We’re not done for the year, just the week.  It’s not June 15th quite yet…

Andy

Storms Firing In Oklahoma
May 26, 2008

At the KOCO First Alert Weather Center we are tracking multiple thunderstorms in Oklahoma. Our storm crews are scattered all over the western portions of the state bringing you the most up to date video feeds on severe storms as soon as they develop. There have already been tornado reports in the eastern Texas panhandle. There have also been tornado warnings for a few counties in Oklahoma but there have been no reports of tornadoes yet in Oklahoma. Stay tuned to KOCO for updates throughout the night.

Gabe

Weather Intern

Memorial Day Moderate Risk
May 26, 2008

For the fifth day in a row, we have the potential for severe weather in the state.  Tomorrow could be day 6. 

By late this afternoon, a dryline will approach western Oklahoma.  We will have plenty of heat and humidity ahead of the dryline, resulting in a very unstable atmosphere.  A cold front will be located over southern Kansas by late this afternoon.  We will watch for thunderstorm development along the intersection of the cold front and dryline, and then to the south along the dryline.  Any storms that do develop could rapidly become severe.  Initially, the threat will be all “modes” of severe weather (tornadoes, very large hail and damaging winds).  Eventually, these storms should form into a complex that will move across parts of northern and perhaps central Oklahoma with the threat for damaging winds. 

Tomorrow, that cold front will push through the state with the potential for more severe weather.  Large hail and strong winds will be the main threat.  We should catch a breather from the severe weather starting on Wednesday.

Enjoy your Memorial Day.  If you have outdoor plans in western/northwestern Oklahoma, you need to remain weather aware.

Andy

Storms West And East….But Quiet Here
May 25, 2008

As of late afternoon, thunderstorms are rumbling through the northern Texas panhandle.  They are moving and developing northeast and will affect the Oklahoma panhandle shortly.  If they hold together, they be into northwest Oklahoma after 7 pm.  The storms will be strong to severe with large hail, strong winds and tornadoes possible.  Hopefully not as many tornadoes as yesterday or the day before.

Storms are also east of us in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri.  They are moving away and the tornado watch for eastern Oklahoma has been trimmed.

I expect the dry line to be a little farther east tomorrow, so storm chances will be highest in western Oklahoma for Memorial Day.  Even then, much of the day will be dry. 

A weak cold front slips into Oklahoma Tuesday and Wednesday with somewhat cooler air and a chance of showers and storms.  Thursday and Friday look quiet.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Rick