Archive for January, 2012

It’s Colder in Alaska…
January 31, 2012

Yes, we all know Alaska is suppose to be cold. But, should it be colder than Mars? Apparently this cold snap is making Mars look like a good vacation spot.

This morning’s temperature in Fairbanks was -27 degree. Yes, that’s cold though not as cold as yesterday and the day before when it was 50 below zero. Either or, this morning’s low temperature of -27 was in fact colder than parts of Mars. I won’t give Mars too hard of a time here, afterall it is a planet whose atmopshere is less than 1% of earths, thus it’s not able to shield itself from the suns radiation. This means you can have some wild temperature swings from a comfortable spring like 70 degrees, to a chilly 225 degrees below zero at night. But still, the fact that Mars is actually warmer than Alaska makes me either A) Not want to visit Alaska in the dead of winter or B) Not want to visit Alaska in the dead of winter… tough choice there…

– Damon

PS- Special thanks to Mark Ingalls for supplying the image.

Advertisements

Who Likes it Warm?
January 31, 2012

This is a stat that I’ll admit slipped through my fingers. I wasn’t keeping track until I randomly looked the other day and thought, ” Hey, it’s been warm out there… perhaps a bit too warm”. And sure enough, January is on pace for one of it’s warmest months on record. The average temperature is currently 4 degrees above normal ( not including today’s stats). But, the month isn’t over and given just how warm it was this morning, I could easily see us bumped up to perhaps #8 for warmest January’s on record. Warm and wet is how it’ll go down..no wonder my daffodils think it’s time to bloom already.

-Damon

February Soaker?
January 31, 2012

Did somebody say La Nina? Yes, she is still going on out there, but looking at stats alone, it’d be difficult to see this past January as your “typical La Nina January”. True, we were warm and had it not been for last weeks rain event, we would have been dry. But if you’re just looking at the stats, then the fact that we did have an above normal rainfall January is certainly not typical of an Oklahoma La Nina January. And, it looks like the start of February may begin just as wet.

Another low pressure system will drop down into The Southern Plains and not only bring us a chance for rain starting late Thursday, but a chance to receive a lot of rain. The latest model models are thinking this:

There are a lot of colors on this map…and we’re seeing all the right colors right over Oklahoma. Yes, this map may change as we inch closer to the start of the event, but if we were to take the models for their word, then we could be seeing all of the main body of Oklahoma with at least 1 inch of rain with some areas picking up perhaps more than 2 inches. Are we still in La Nina? You know it! Is Mother Nature behaving like La Nina should? Not one bit! And no one should be complaining.

-Damon

February: A Month For Snow and Severe Weather
January 31, 2012

We live in Oklahoma.  We know the weather is constantly changing from one extreme to the next.  As we start a new month tomorrow, we’ll be tracking not only the peak for snowfall, but also the risk of severe weather. 

It was one year ago today that would be the start of the Blizzard of 2011, when almost 12″ of snow fell, winds maxed out at 53 mph, and temperatures dipped as low as seven degrees.  Heavy snow events don’t happen that often in Oklahoma City.  You can see from the map below, courtesy of the NWS, that we get about eight, 8-inch or more snow events every five to ten years.

The odds are higher in the Panhandle, especially in March, when that region typically sees its heaviest snowfalls.

While heavy snow is not in our forecast this week, showers and thunderstorms are.

“Dixie Alley,” the geographic region where tornadoes occur most often during the fall and winter months,

has been getting hit hard this year.  However for Oklahoma, February marks the start to severe weather season which typically lasts through the end of May to early June.  The region we live in, known as “Tornado Alley,” becomes the target for some of Mother Nature’s worst disasters.

While the peak of tornado season is May, where 307 occurred in the past ten years, twisters can still form as soon as February.  Seven tornadoes swept through Oklahoma over a ten year period during February.

We may still have our shovels ready in case of a big snow event but it’s also time to prepare ourselves for severe weather season too.

-Danielle Dozier

2011­-12 Winter Season To Date: Mild and Wet
January 30, 2012

We’re in the middle of winter but it hasn’t really felt like it.  Temperatures have been milder this season than they were the previous winter to date.  Oklahoma City is currently a little over two degrees above the average temperature for the months of December and January, compared to last year when we were 1.5 degrees below.  This mild weather has a little to do with a climate pattern we call La Nina.  Take a look:

During a La Nina pattern, the waters over the equatorial Pacific Ocean cool.  A high pressure ridge will set up south of Alaska, which tends to keep the jet stream to our north more often.  This typically leads to warmer than normal conditions for Oklahoma.  What about precipitation?  La Nina typically leads to drier weather for Oklahoma too.  However, that has not been the case so far this winter.  OKC is 0.41″ above the average on precipitation.  Keep in mind, that this has everything to do with the 2.23″ of rainfall we just picked up last Tuesday.

Snowfall has been hard to come by.  We’ve only seen a trace of snowfall this winter, compared to last year to date, 0.7″.  Then, the blizzard of 2011.  Almost 12″ of snow fell; well above the normal 9.5″ for the entire winter!

Some of Oklahoma’s greatest snowfalls come in February and March with the OK Panhandle being the most likely place to see heavy snow in March.

So, snow lovers, don’t let up hope now, we still have another month and a half left to see the fluffy white stuff!

-Danielle Dozier

Holy %$#$%$ Cold !
January 30, 2012

OK, I know what you're thinking. Who cares about the cold in Alaska...it's always cold. And yes, you are right...but it's not usually this cold! Check out these stats for Fairbanks, Alaska...
THE LOW TEMPERATURE SO FAR TODAY AT THE FAIRBANKS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT HAS BEEN 44 BELOW. THIS MARKS THE 16TH DAY THIS JANUARY WITH A LOW TEMPERATURE OF 40 BELOW OR LOWER. THIS IS THE GREATESTNUMBER OF 40 BELOW DAYS IN JANUARY SINCE 1971 WHEN 21 SUCH DAYS WERE OBSERVED. SINCE 1906 THERE HAVE ONLY BEEN THREE YEARS
(1906...1934 AND 1971) WITH MORE 40 BELOW DAYS DURING THE MONTH OF JANUARY. IF ONE LOOKS AT THE WINTER AS A WHOLE...THERE HAVE ONLY BEEN 4 MONTHS THAT HAVE HAD MORE 40 BELOW DAYS.
 JANUARY 1906.....21
 JANUARY 1971.....21
 DECEMBER 1917....20
 JANUARY 1934.....20
 JANUARY 2012.....16*
 FEBRUARY 1932....16
 JANUARY 1969.....16
 JANUARY 1947.....16
* THROUGH JANUARY 30TH
SO FAR THIS WINTER THERE HAVE BEEN 17 DAYS WITH A LOW TEMPERATURE OF 40 BELOW OR LOWER WITH THE ONLY OTHER 40 BELOW DAY OCCURRING DURING THE EARLY COLD SNAP PRIOR TO THANKSGIVING. IN THE LAST 30 YEARS THIS IS THE 3RD GREATEST NUMBER OF 40 BELOW DAYS DURING A
 WINTER. IN 2007-2008 THERE WERE A TOTAL OF 18...AND IN THE WINTER OF 1988-1989 THERE WERE A TOTAL OF 19. ON AVERAGE...THERE ARE SEVEN DAYS DURING THE WINTER WITH A LOW TEMPERATURE OF 40 BELOW OR LOWER.
YESTERDAY WAS THE 2ND DAY IN A ROW WITH A TEMPERATURE OF 50 BELOW OR LOWER...AND THE FIRST TIME THERE HAVE BEEN BACK TO BACK 50 BELOW DAYS SINCE 1999. DURING MOST WINTERS THERE ARE NO 50 BELOW DAYS OBSERVED AT THE AIRPORT. DURING THE PAST 30 YEARS THERE HAVE BEEN 7 WINTERS WHEN AT LEAST ONE 50 BELOW DAY WAS OBSERVED AT THE AIRPORT OR ABOUT ONCE EVERY 4 YEARS.
Thanks to the NWS in Fairbanks for the stats. I'd watch out too, because that cold air has to move somewhere eventually... could it be headed to the lower 48? Time will only tell...
-Damon

PS- And if you ever wanted to know what happens to hot coffee at 50 below zero...check out this link:
Coffee and -50 Temperatures

Tornado Season Starting Now?
January 24, 2012

You may see the title above and think it’s way to early for tornado season. And, if you’re thinking about Oklahoma, then yes, you’re right. True, we do see tornadoes just about anytime, but for Oklahoma, our tornado season doesn’t begin to peak until late March April and especially May. But, in other parts of America, tornado alley is peaking much earlier than OKlahoma. Where?

Say hello to “Dixie Alley”. A “tornado alley” that is located in the southeast. Tornadoes are less frequent in this part of America than here in Oklahoma, but despite the fact that the frequency of tornadoes is less, the likelihood of tornado-related deaths is actually higher than Oklahoma. Tornadoes here can be long-track and due to the fact that this area is denser in population, the chances of hitting towns is higher.Also, visibility is less and tornadoes are often rain-wrapped. Check out the tornado tracks below in red. Those are so long track tornadoes!

So, when is Dixie Alley most active? Usually late winter and early spring is when you’ll see tornado watches popping up. Why now? It all has to do with The Gulf of Mexico and the amount of moisture that it is sending north. The Gulf is limited right now to how far inland it can send moisture and thus, within a few hundred mild of the water is where we’re likely to see tornadic storms.

-Damon

Non-Stop turns into 1-Stop….
January 13, 2012

I usually enjoy it when the captain of the flight I’m on gets on the intercom and talks about the flight… but there are a few things I don’t like to hear. You know… “bumpy flight ahead, keep the seat belts on.” Or, ” we’re in a holding pattern, we’ll be landing late..”. But, never have I heard the pilot say, ” We’re running low on fuel…”. That right there is something that I don’t think any of us would want to hear, but crazy as it sounds, it’s actually been said a number of times lately. Flights that are originating out of Europe and flying west toward The United States are battling unusually strong headwinds for this time of year. It’s not a hidden fact that winds are typically stronger during the winter months than the summer months, but it just so happens that this year, winds have been much stronger from the west to the east.

United Airlines calculated that the average wind in the last month has been about 50 mph stronger than previous winters, meaning that airplanes flying from west to east are having to burn more fuel to counteract. A process that over a span of hours will lead to noticeably less fuel that diverting becomes necessary. Of the 1100 flights that flew over The Atlantic from Europe, 43 had to divert in the last month because they simply couldn’t make it to their destination.

Of course, added stops leads to missed connections, but the good news, is that the stronger winds that blow from west to east are giving airlines a huge advantage. Turns out witht he added wind in the tail, airplanes are landing way ahead of schedule when traveling from The United States to Europe. Let’s be glad there isn’t a fee yet for landing earlier than normal.

-Damon

Snow…Where Are You?
January 11, 2012

You may not notice it here, but trust me, it’s a growing problem ..and that’s the lack of snow! Don’t believe me? Check this out.

I usually plan out most of my ski trips in January. There’s suppose to be snow, lots of it by then, but not so much in Colorado. I took the above picture in Breckenridge of a “black-diamond” run. Typically, this would have a few feet of snow on it. Not so much this year. Here in Oklahoma, we pray for rain, but in Colorado, they pray for snow. (Say ’em tonight please). And it’s not just Colorado..check this out to see a comparison of this year to last.

One year ago we were doing great with snow coverage. If anything, probably too much snow out there. But, the ski resorts were loving it. 62% of The United States had snow with an average depth of 6.3 inches. This year, it’s been a completely different story:

Now, look at yesterday’s snow coverage. Not lookin’ so hot. Only 16% of America has snow with an average depth of 1.5 inches. 1 month ago, 34% of America had snow. There was more snow in the fall than in the winter. But, where the snow is may be somewhat surprising. Midland,Texas has more snow than Chicago and Minneapolis. Who would have thought that? Wow!

-Damon