Archive for February, 2011

Sunday Fires from Space
February 28, 2011

Put this in as the image of the day. The hi-res polar orbiting satellite just finished its afternoon pass and clearly shows the scars from yesterdays fires in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. I tried to highlight the fires using photoshop and also give you some identifiers along the way. You can find the original image here:   http://ge.ssec.wisc.edu/modis-today/index.php?satellite=t1&product=true_color&date=2011_02_28_059&overlay_sector=false&overlay_state=true&overlay_coastline=true&sector=USA6&resolution=250m

These fires were intense, long track and covered over 140,000 acres. The fire in the NE Texas Panhandle was actually longer than Oklahoma City is wide. And, if you check out Lea County in New Mexico (its in the southeastern corner of the state), you can see a fire that is about twice as wide as Oklahoma City.  In total, 13 large fires were reported, 70 homes destroyed, 2 cars, a fire truck and unfortunately, one human life was lost and a number of dogs and cats when an animal shelter was caught in the path of a fire.

Wind gusts were reported over 60 mph across most of the region with the Texas Tech Mesonet Site in Amhearst (LAMB COUNTY) peaking at 68 mph.

-Damon

February Snow = Bigger Drought
February 28, 2011

The February snows have been melted and absorbed into the ground, and despite the 18 inches plus across Central Oklahoma, the snow did little to help with the drought. The latest drought monitor (last Thursday’s rain was not included), shows that the SEVERE DROUGHT is no longer confined to the OKC Metro and is now extending southwest towards Lawton and Altus. One year ago, the state was drought free, now, the entire state is in a drought. The Keetch Byram Index, which takes into account how much rain would be necessary to bring the top layer of soil to full saturation is currently looking like this:

So, what do these numbers mean? The numbers on the left, which range from 00-800 signify how many inches of rain are necessary to saturate the soil. 800 means that you need 8 inches of rain to saturate the soul, 600, means 6 inches and 400 inches means 4 inches. This graphic here shows how lastnights rain helped southeastern Oklahoma with saturating the soil, but as a whole. there is not enough green here, and too much red and orange which means we still need about 4-6 inches of good soaking rain to help with the drought. Quick moving storms tend to help filling the area lakes than soaking into the ground.

-Damon

Holy Cow…
February 28, 2011

If you would have asked me back on February 15th, that we would finish the month of February on a whole with near normal temperatures, I would have said you were crazy. But, wow.. this is incredible. The first 2 weeks of the month averaged temperatures that were near 18 degrees below normal. But since then, our temperatures have been over 11 degrees above normal..and doing the math, our average monthly temperature now looks like this:

That’s right, less than a degree below normal now. That number may not sound like much, but when you look at where we were and where we are going to finish, that stat there is incredible. A near normal temperature month with above normal precipitation. Not bad..

-Damon

Finally…
February 28, 2011

For the first time since July, Oklahoma City will end the month of February with above normal precipitation. As La Nina took control, we noticed a drying weather pattern that lasted from August until the end of January. And while La Nina may officially still be on-going, the good news is that the impacts of La Nina are not as pronounced during the spring and summer months as it is during the winter months. There are even signs that La Nina may have weakened some in the last few weeks.

-Damon

Was There or Wasn’t There a Tornado in Oklahoma?
February 28, 2011

A sign that spring is just about here. Yesterday certainly was busy across Oklahoma with numerous fires being reported and even seeing our first TORNADO WATCH for Northern Oklahoma go up (2nd for the state this year). And while we did have a TORNADO WATCH in effect, were there any confirmed reports of tornadoes in Oklahoma? Here is a layout of reports from yesterday’s severe weather event.

By looking at this list, it appears that Oklahoma was pretty close to having our first tornado of the year being reported in Osage County. But, it takes a careful eye when looking at this map. And once I zoomed in far enough, this is what I saw:

According to The Storm Prediction Center, the tornado wasn’t official until it crossed into Kansas. Just barely. So, from SPC reports, NO, there wasn’t a confirmed tornado in the state yesterday. Thus, this is how the rankings look for tornadoes this year.

It actually doesn’t surprise me a whole lot to see states in the southeast having more tornado reports than others this early. The Gulf of Mexico provides better moisture right now in the southeast than in The Southern Plains. So, after 2 full months into the new year, this is where we stand.

-Damon

 

Update: Sunday Severe Threat
February 27, 2011

The latest outlook from SPC has been issued and this is what things are now looking like for this afternoons severe weather threat (mainly around 4:00pm). The OKC Metro is once again not under the risk for organized severe weather, though a few strong storms can not be ruled out, but Northern Oklahoma from Stillwater and Ponca City and northeast now have a slight risk of severe weather with the risk of tornadoes, large hail and winds as the main threat. These storms will be very fast movers, (in excess of 45 mph) which means the threat won’t last long.

-Damon

High Fire Danger and a Chance For Storms
February 26, 2011

First, fog will form again tonight in Northern Oklahoma. A Dense Fog Advisory is in effect for much of Northwest and Northcentral OK until 10am. In the metro, we’ll see thick clouds and areas of fog and drizzle overnight.

Skies should be able to clear out a bit quicker tomorrow than they did today as a powerful storm system races across the four-corners and into Oklahoma late tomorrow. This will push the dryline to just west of I-35, bringing a high fire risk to Western OK. There is already a Red Flag Warning in effect. Behind the dryline, winds will gust to near 50mph with relative humidities less than 15%. As we head into mid-afternoon, storms will begin to fire up just east of the dryline in response to the approaching storm. Temperatures will be near 70, and in Southwest OK near 80.

The storms will form along I-35 and race east. They will be much more spotty than the storms Thursday morning, but also possibly stronger. We can’t rule out a few severe storms, with damaging winds being the main threat. Storm movement will be around 50mph, so these puppies will be haulin’.

As the storms move into Eastern OK during the evening, they will become more numerous and stronger. A Moderate Risk of severe weather is expected for extreme Eastern OK, much of Arkansas, and parts of Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee. Here’s an overall look at the map:

We’ll have our FAST Units out tomorrow patrolling the friendly skies.

Rusty

Ski Hawaii
February 24, 2011

Something you don’t see every day and perhaps something you can talk about at the water cooler. WINTER STORM WARNINGS for Hawaii! But, don’t be surprised because it’s actually normal to see snow in The Aloha State.  The peaks of Hawaii (above 13000 feet), can get snow any month of the year. Anyways, 2-4 inches of snow are in the forecast. Ever thought about skiing and surfing in the same day?

-Damon

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH #12
February 24, 2011

As we were thinking. The 12th SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH of the year was issued this morning and will be in effect until 11am. Hail around quarters/half-dollars ar e possible as well as strong winds, noted in the blog post below.

-Damon

Morning Sounding
February 24, 2011

It’s early in the morning, and while we’re waiting for the storms to develop, I figured that if you’re up right now, then either you have a bad case of insomnia, or you’re so anxious to hear the first rumble of thunder of the day, that you’re busy reading weather models. So, let’s see if we’re seeing the same thing. Here is the sounding from the RUC model, timestamped at 1000Z, which is 4am here. Do you see what I see?

The airmass is obviously saturated here near the surface as we notice the dewpoint depression is quite low, less 3 or 4 degrees. That’s wet! Up until about 5800 feet, we notice the column of air stays saturated, and then bam! You start to see the blue and red line separate from eachother rather quickly. This indicates some dry air above. And, it’s that very same dry air that can lead to problems here on the ground. As storms develop in this environment, they start to encounter this dry air. As the moisture falls in this sounding, it begins to cool (i.e. evaporative cooling). As this process continues, it increases the negative buoyancy which then results in microbursts. Hail is usually quite small in soundings like this, around 3/4″ to perhaps 1 inch if we stretch it. So, what am I most concerned about this morning? Winds! But, it’s Oklahoma… we’re used to the winds right? Winds could approach 58 mph. Tornado threat looks very low.

-Damon