Archive for April, 2010

Still Will Be Stormy To Our East
April 30, 2010

The rain and storms are done for today in our part of Oklahoma, but storms, and even severe weather is still possible in extreme Eastern Oklahoma through tonight.

A tornado watch has been issued that does in include a small section of Eastern Oklahoma until 8pm this evening.

Storms continue to intensify on the slow moving cold front which moved through our area overnight. With moderate instability and good shear, supercells are likely within the watch area. Large hail and tornadoes will both be threats.

For the weekend, the models were all over the place yesterday and didn’t seem to have a good handle on the synoptic setup over us. Today, they seem to be agreeing much more.

It looks to me like moisture will begin to stream (or rather trickle) back into the area Saturday. As the atmosphere cools and a upper-level kicker moves through, showers and a few storms should develop Saturday evening, and last overnight and into Sunday morning.

It’s hard to pinpoint what part of the state has the best chance right now, it looks like showers could breakout literally anywhere, given the enviroment. I’d broadbrush a 30%-40% for us.

Rain should be coming to an end Sunday morning, with dry conditions for Sunday afternoon. Thankfully, after gusty winds again this afternoon, the winds should relax this weekend.

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Thunder Forecast…
April 30, 2010

Hey!  Looks like a nice day after this rain pushes out.  I think we will rebound today up to about 80 degrees.

Tonight looks pretty dry, but keep in mind it will feel pretty chilly into the overnight hours.  If you are headed out after the game, you will probably need a jacket.  Lows will be in the 40s Tonight.

The weekend does look rather unsettled.  Rain chances will be at about 40% both days.  I don’t think it will be persistent rain all day, but expect on and off showers and maybe an isolated storm here and there throughout the weekend.  The severe threat is low. It will also be cooler into the weekend.

Sarah

VORTEX2: The Day Before Deployment
April 30, 2010

It’s the day before VORTEX2 deploys and while storms are moving across The Central Plains today, most of the scientists will be getting some much-needed rest and putting together last-minute things. This group will be away from home and family for the next 6 weeks.

So, what exactly is life like on the road? We’ll be detailing it along the way, but here are some interesting tid bits. VORTEX2 will stay in Tornado Alley even if the greatest chance for storms lies outside of Tornado Alley. This is for safety and the ability to see storms from a distance without any obstruction from trees. Thus, they’ll only be chasing in the following areas. Southern South Dakota, Western Iowa, Nebraska, Eastern Colorado, Kansas, Texas Panhandle and Western Oklahoma. You may be asking why not Eastern Oklahoma…again, the rolling hills and trees would make a fleet of scientists in danger if they were to chase east of Interstate 35. And, if you looked closely, you may have noticed that Wyoming was not on the list despite the fact that this was the only place that VORTEX2 was able to intercept a tornado last year. Of course, the boundaries are not concrete as last years tornado was just barely outside the state limits.

So, what do they do when they are not chasing storms?  There will be over 1000 miles of United States land to chase in. 50 hotel rooms will be needed every night and a parking lot that is big enough to hold 40 vehicles.

This project will last until mid June. All the data being analyzed and presented by the end of the year.

The following is a sample of how the scientists communicate with each other when storms are developing. Once storms are popping, the crew will surround the storm to gather information from every direction.

-Damon

Gulf of Mexico..We Have A Problem
April 29, 2010

An oil spill and clean-up larger than The Exxon Valdez could happen if the winds across The Gulf of Mexico don’t change soon. Last week, A British Petroleum rig collapsed sending tons of fuel into the Gulf waters. This story though, as bad as it was then is about to get even worse if the winds don’t settle down. The rig, which was actually somewhat close to Louisiana(about 16 miles) went down with the potential of dropping 4.2 million gallons of oil into The Gulf. So, how does weather play a role in this? The image below shows where the oil spill is (the orange shaded areas) and the proximity to land.

From the sky, the oil spill is very pronounced.

A rather large high pressure area will set up right around Cuba. With the Gulf of the back side of the high, southerly winds will start pushing the oil on shore. And, with winds likely to reach as high as 50 mph along the water surface, the ocean current, may start to push the oil on shore. The following map illustrates the winds across The Gulf of Mexico this weekend.

The winds aren’t forecasted to relax until early next week. But, regardless, this is going to be one costly mess..

-Damon

Tonight’s Severe Weather
April 29, 2010

Another chances of storms will roll into The Central Plains this evening. But, as my gut feeling has been telling me lately, this doesn’t look to be the greatest of severe weather days as we have seen in the past. I’m still not letting my guard down, but locally, the dynamics just aren’t there for this to raise many eyebrows. Either or, we’ll still break down the threat and analyze it together. Here is what we have right now…

According to many of the weather models, thunderstorm chances will really roll in here until after midnight tonight with the best chance to see some severe convection popping up just east of Interstate 35. It’s a low chance, but that’s really our “best chance”. Threats with these storms, due to their late arrival will be the following:

Large hail and damaging winds will likely be the main threats here. I do not see much of a tornado threat here, though it can’t be ruled out. But, given the history of storms moving in around this time, it just doesn’t look that great in Eastern Oklahoma. Arkansas and points east and northeast of The Sooner State will be completely different.

So, why the lack of support for tornadoes when afterall, this is the heart of tornado season? The storm track is well north and because the center of the low is tracking well north, that is where the greatest tornado threat will be. Which, in this case would be Central Kansas and most of Iowa.

-Damon

VORTEX2..What is it?
April 29, 2010

In a few days, your tax dollars will be funding a massive tornado research project known as VORTEX2. So, what exactly is it? Back in 1994, VORTEX1 set out to understand more about tornadoes. Back then, they were curious about whether all storms that rotate produce tornadoes and why some storms produce more violent tornadoes than others. This project right here was able to document a tornado from start to finish. The end result was an increase in tornado warning lead time by 13 minutes and a reduction in false alarms by 10 percent.

Fast forward about 15 years and here we are now with VORTEX2. To this date, there is still a lot we don’t understand about tornadoes. But, with 50 mobile radars set out to deploy on storms as well as dozens of weather instruments sampling the atmosphere before, during and after a tornado. We will be able to gather more information about how they start and hopefully an even greater lead time in issuing warnings.  The project will start this weekend and last until mid June. The cost to you, the tax payer, 11.9 million dollars, or about 4 cents per person. Keep checking back, we’ll be updating this project along the way.

-Damon

Record Slow Start to Tornado Season?
April 29, 2010

We all know that this has been a very slow start to the Oklahoma tornado season. But, just how slow has it been? If you read below, we have only had 3 tornadoes in Oklahoma. The latest coming last week in Beaver County.  Below is a graph that shows the latest we have ever gone with only 3 tornadoes and then how May and June turned out.

On May 6th, 1998, we had only 3 tornado reports. By the end of June, we had 44.

On April 27th, 1962, we had only 3 tornadoes. By the end of June, we had 54.

On April 26th, 1970, we had 3 tornadoes. By the end of June, we had 21.

On April 25th, 1989, we had 3 tornadoes. By the end of June, we had 13.

And, here we are now, it’s April 29th, we have only had 3 tornadoes in the state. Check back at the end of June to see where we are.

-Damon

Next Severe Weather Chance
April 28, 2010

Before the chance of severe weather, we have the 100% probability of a very windy days ahead. A wind advisory is in effect today for most of Oklahoma north and west of the metro. Winds could easily gust to 50mph there, and 40mph in the metro.

We’re closely monitoring the next storm system. Although the setup is a bit different from last week, the overall results may be similar.

Storms will begin to fire along the dryline late Thursday afternoon in the panhandle of Texas. The storms will then move into western Oklahoma during the early evening as the dryline moves east.

Storm initiation is not a 100% guarantee, but if storms fire, they will quickly become severe. I’m anticipating explosive development.

Storms will then begin to form a squall line as they move into central Oklahoma overnight, where wind and hail will be the main threat, although we never rule out the possibility of a tornado this time of year.

One difference between this week and last week is that the upper-level support could move much farther north, taking the highest risk of severe weather with it. Look how far north the SPC’s slight risk goes:

There are even some computer models which keep the OKC metro dry through this event.

Rusty

Rip Currents!
April 27, 2010

Though I know we are in the middle of tornado season here in Oklahoma, I wanted to take a second and talk about another natural phenomenon that deserves some attention, and that’s packs of wild dogs controlling most of our major cities!

Ok, hopefully that’s not true. But, many of you will soon be planning summer vacations with the family that will involve some place warm, with a beach, and a much lower threat for tornadoes.

Rip currents are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves.

Rip currents can be killers. The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that the annual number of deaths due to rip currents on our nation’s beaches exceeds 100. Rip currents account for over 80% of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards.

When at the beach:

  • Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard-protected beach.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Learn how to swim in the surf.  It’s not the same as swimming in a pool or lake.
  • Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don’t go out.
  • Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Lifeguards are trained to identify potential hazards. Ask a lifeguard about the conditions before entering the water. This is part of their job.
  • Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist along side these structures.
  • Consider using polarized sunglasses when at the beach. They will help you to spot signatures of rip currents by cutting down glare and reflected sunlight off the ocean’s surface.
  • Pay especially close attention to children and elderly when at the beach. Even in shallow water, wave action can cause loss of footing.

If caught in a rip current:

  • Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
  • Never fight against the current.
  • Think of it like a treadmill that cannot be turned off, which you need to step to the side of.
  • Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle–away from the current–towards shore.
  • If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
  • If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.

If you see someone in trouble, don’t become a victim too:

  • Get help from a lifeguard.
  • If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.
  • Throw the rip current victim something that floats–a lifejacket, a cooler, an inflatable ball.
  • Yell instructions on how to escape.
  • Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.

Rip currents are dangerous, we do several stories each summer on rip current deaths, which are totally preventable. Make sure you talk to your kids about the dangers of rip currents and what to do if caught in one.

Rusty

VORTEX2 2010
April 27, 2010

We are just days away from witnessing the greatest tornado research project ever as VORTEX2 is set to deploy this weekend. Many of you may remember this project from last year. Unfortunately, the severe weather season was rather weak and when VORTEX2 2009 was over, they were only able to intercept 1 tornado.

This tornado near LaGrange, Wyoming was incredible as the team was able to gather more information on this tornado than any other tornado ever before.  But, the VORTEX team had set out to record 5 tornadoes, not 1. So, the project, which was slated to last 2 years, will start this weekend and last 6 weeks ,ending on June 15th. Keep coming back to the KOCO weather blog, we’ll be documenting their travels along the way.

-Damon