Archive for February, 2012

Severe Storms/Fire Danger Tuesday
February 26, 2012

An upper level low will move into the high plains by Tuesday evening.  300 mb winds over 90 kts.  A dryline will take shape just west of I-35 during the afternoon.  Strong to severe storms look to develop along and east of this boundary as pictured here:

 

Ahead of the dryline, dewpoints should manage to be in the 50s with surface temps in the upper 60s and low 70s.  Surface based CAPE over 500 J/kg in SE OK. 

With these factors, the greatest risk of severe storms looks to be in eastern OK after 3pm Tuesday.  The threats will be damaging winds over 58 mph and a risk for tornadoes. 

Aside from the storm threat, it will be windy!  The metro will have gusts up to 40 mph, meanwhile, western OK will see higher gusts behind the dryline with very high fire danger. 

Make sure to follow us on Twitter:  @DanielleDozier, @RickMitchellWX, and @KOCOdamonlane. 

-Danielle

Is Spring Finally Here?
February 24, 2012

There are many things that happen before spring officially starts in my book. Pitchers and catchers report to camp, thunderstorms start to get a little rowdy…but none of these are true signs of spring until I see these popping up on the side of the road.

OK, so this picture wasn’t taken here in Oklahoma. It was actually shot outside of Austin, but to me, seeing spring flowers/Bluebonnets popping up is Mother Nature’s way of saying that the ground is warm enough and has been warm enough that it’s time to start producing color.

Last year was a rough year for wildflower fans from Texas to Oklahoma due to a very dry winter. A few blooms were noted but was much less than desired. This year though may be totally different. The fall rains were good and the ground has been moist all winter long. Now all we need is to see a few more rain events between now and mid-April and that will get the ground going.

So hang in there Oklahoma…the winter brown is quickly fading.

-Damon

From Spring to Winter…
February 22, 2012

This map may not have been made had we not hit the 70s today. But, I chose to toss it in here due to the lone fact that I want to stress to everyone that today’s high temperature is by no means an indication that we are done with winter. Yes, I am talking about 7-8 days from now and in the meterological community, that is an eternity. But, this mornings GFS model run did show a storm system that could drop into The Southern Plains and have just enough cold air next Tuesday Night/Wednesday that we could see some form of wintry weather.

This is just one model and others did not show the chance for wintry weather, but given the fact that March is the snowiest month for The United States, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see something funky happen down here next week. Do I expect this forecast to change? Yes, but just know that while today may be nice out, we still have another month to go before we can say “Hello Spring”.

-Damon

PS- It’s way to early to talk accumulations…

Microbursts: As Damaging As Tornadoes
February 22, 2012

Based on radar analysis and ground survey, it was determined that the damage in Ada from Monday’s storms was caused by a microburst and not a tornado.  Many of you have been wondering what a microburst is and why there are not “microburst warnings.”  So, I figured I would explain this.

A thunderstorm has three stages of development.  They are cumulus, mature, and dissipating.  Here’s what the first stage looks like:

   

You can see it comprises of the warm, moist updraft.  Warm air rises and as it does, it expands and cools.  This leads to condensation and the creation of cumulus clouds.  The updraft becomes strong and clouds grow vertically into “towering cumulus.” 

The second stage is the mature stage and pictured here:

Now the storm has an updraft and a downdraft.  The updraft consists of warm, moist air inflow, while the downdraft has cool air.

A microburst is a localized column of sinking air, usually less than 2.5 miles wide. 

It is caused when the rain drops fall through dry air, evaporate and cool, accelerating to the ground.  Due to the intensity of the wind, it hits the ground and spreads out.  The strong winds can cause significant tornado-like damage.  The debris is typically scattered in a straight-line fashion.  Therefore, microbursts are also called “straight-line winds.”

Microbursts can have winds approaching 170 mph.  The microburst that hit Ada clocked winds of 100 mph. 

There are no “microburst warnings”.  They are hard to detect on radar because they occur suddenly.  Microbursts are classified under “severe thunderstorm warnings” due to their ability to produce damaging winds in excess of 58 mph. 

As meteorologists, we are constantly examining new ways to improve warnings. 

-Danielle

Any questions or comments?  Follow us on Twitter @DanielleDozier, @RickMitchellWX, and @KOCOdamonlane!

Hello Champagne Powder!
February 21, 2012

There’s snow, and then THERE’S SNOW. In this case, the winter that wasn’t before mid-January has suddenly turned into the winter that was for Steamboat, Colorado. If you recall Colorado was hurting for snow for December and a good portion of January. I recall my fiancee and I skiing in Steamboat and a few other Colorado resorts and noticing more rocks than snow. But, within the last few weeks Colorado has been hit hard by snow and now it’s to the point where it’s making headlines. Steamboat set a record, and not just any ole record, but a snowfall record. And when you’re setting snowfall records in Colorado during the winter, you know that’s some serious snow.With a liquid-to-snow ratio approaching 20/30 inches of snow to 1 inch of water is some very dry snow, which can and will add up quickly.

27 inches of snow in 24 hours is a lot, and what’s nuts about this record is that this is just a 24 hour record, more snow fell before and after midnight. The previous record was 26 inches. Not bad, and since February 1st, the resort has picked up 5 feet of snow. Of course this comes with some caution, as you would expect, the avalanche danger is very high for Colorado. Either or, way to go SKI TOWN, USA. See ya in the liftline.

-Damon

Air Quality Mystery
February 21, 2012

Something funky is going on in Eastern Utah. And it has many scientists scratching their heads trying to figure out what in the world is going happening. In the winter, especially Utah, you expect to find some of the cleanest air where only a few people live and you’re surrounded by basins and snow-capped mountains. It’s also an area that like Oklahoma has plenty of energy drilling ( such as natural gas and oil).

But, just last month, recent ozone reports indicated that the amount of ozone present in The Unitah Basin was nearing 140 ppb. OK, I know that means nothing to you. In other words, the EPA’s standard is 75 ppb which is what many large cities experience during the peak of the summer when ozone alert is usually at it’s worse. That’s right, cities that have millions of people in it have cleaner air than an area that has just a few people per square mile. So, what in the world is going on here?

Scientists are puzzled and aren’t sure either. Are these pollutants coming from something that existed long before the oil and natural gas fields were started? It’s been stated that the gas and oil drilling itself is not the cause for the extremely high ozone. Does it have to deal with the snow and how the sun and snow interact? There are many questions to be asked here but what we do know is that amounts of ozone at this level can lead to many type of respiratory effects and damage to crops and plants. NOAA has a field of instruments surveying the area. Check back as we watch this story closely. Because it if’s happening in Utah, it could very well happen right here in Oklahoma.

-Damon

Update: Severe Risk
February 20, 2012

It may be tough to squeeze out a classic supercell with today’s wet and cool weather, but a low-top supercell storm could pop up after 2:00pm and move across the state.  This is not a major severe weather threat today, but just know that if a storm can develop, we could see the potential for hail, strong winds and perhaps a quick tornado, though the tornado threat will diminish quickly near sunset.

-Damon

Allergy Season Arriving Early?
February 20, 2012

I usually reserve the topic of allergies for spring, summer and fall. But apparently the lack of a true winter is making the plants and trees think that NOW is the time to start pollinating. Yes, Oklahoma..it’s back… ALLERGIES! Allergy sufferers usually rejoice during the winter months as it gives them a special time of year to not have to pop pills  every day. But this year, because of the lack of a true winter, the pill-popping may be happening earlier than many had hoped for.The most recent allergy forecast had tree already registering as “HIGH” on the pollen count.

And with daffodils already thinking that it’s time to bloom, it looks like grass and weed pollen won’t be too far away either. So, does this mean that we can expect the allergy season to end earlier than normal? It’s tough to say. Oh spring time in Oklahoma…

-Damon

Strong Winds, Fire Danger, and Chance of Storms: Discussion
February 20, 2012

Showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast on this Presidents’ Day, as well as the strong winds.  Here’s a discussion describing today’s weather.

This morning’s surface analysis:

 

Cold front extends from western Kansas south into the western OK Panhandle.  Ahead of the cold front, dewpoints are in the 40s and behind the front, less than 20 degrees. 

Here’s the upper level 500 mb map forecast for noon today:

Upper low moves out of the Rockies and into the TX Panhandle.  As this low moves in, it will push the pacific cold front east across our state, along with a dryline. You can see the dryline evident in this dewpoint map forecast at 11am:

With the approach of the upper low this afternoon along with the dryline/pacific cold front, winds will increase.  Winds could gust as high as 40-45 mph in the OKC metro and higher in western OK.  High winds and relative humidity less than 20% to our southwest will lead to extreme fire danger.  There is also very high fire danger for central and western OK this afternoon.

Aside from blowing dust and fire danger, there is also a chance for storms.  If any storms fire up today, it will be mainly after the noon hour with the greatest risk from just west of I-35 (El Reno, Kingfisher) and east.  The atmosphere is favoring hail as the main threat due to cold temps aloft; however, moisture is limited so the chance for storms is less than 40%. 

With Mother Nature, anything’s possible.  We’ll definitely get the wind.  As for the storms, we’ll have to play the “wait and see” game!  We’ll keep you updated!

-Danielle

Winter Weather Advisory In Effect
February 12, 2012

A winter weather advisory is in effect for much of the state through Monday afternoon.   

Snow will likely move into western Oklahoma by 6 pm Sunday and spread east into OKC by 10 pm.  Here’s a look at Predictor around 10 pm:

Snow will mix with sleet, mainly after 3 am in the metro, and continue through your Monday morning commute.  Expect snow in northern Oklahoma overnight and freezing rain in southeastern portions of the state.  Accumulations overnight range from 1-2″ north and east, to 1″ in central Oklahoma. 

Here’s a look at your Monday morning forecast:

An additional 1″ of snow and sleet is possible in OKC with less than one-quarter inch of ice in southeastern OK.  The precipitation should end in the metro between noon to 1 pm. 

In summary, total accumulations in the metro: 1-2″ with isolated amounts of 3″ possible north and east by the time the system moves out Monday afternoon.  Roads will be very slick for your Monday morning commute so give yourself some extra time before driving. 

Temperatures will rise above freezing during the early afternoon Monday, improving road conditions slightly.  However, with temperatures expected to drop to near freezing again Monday night, residual moisture may re-freeze so use caution while driving Tuesday AM also. 

Tuesday afternoon we’re in the 50s and dry.

-Danielle