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Mike Grogan Weather Blog: Big Ups & Downs, But Winter on Hold

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We continue to skate through winter with hardly any winter weather. Sure, we have our occasional cold, below-normal temperature day, but the overall pattern has shut off significant moisture flow back into the state. Instead, we’ve been caught in a string of dry, windy days. This is enhancing our fire danger. Despite saturated soils from the early winter deluge, our vegetation has dried out and primed us for wildfire season.

Fire danger is our immediate focus in Oklahoma. Our region is straddling the gradient of frigid air over the Midwest and balmy conditions in the southern High Plains.  (See first map).  Northwesterly flow in the jet stream overhead keeps us on the path for frontal boundaries, which will cause some big temperature fluctuations in the week ahead. On this Wednesday afternoon, the warmer air is winning out, lowering humidity values and enhancing that fire threat. Tomorrow, cooler air seeps in from the northeast with a reinforcement of colder air by the weekend. Still, we remain dry for the rest of the week.

A more potent wave of energy will ridge the jet stream and arrive by Valentine’s Day. It won’t be the best timing for the holiday, but fortunately, it will have meager amounts of moisture to go with it. That means any rain will be light, but you still may have to dodge showers as you potentially head out with your sweetheart that day.  Should the precipitation begin early enough in the day, that rain could fall into a shallow layer of sub-freezing air, mainly in far eastern Oklahoma into the Ozarks of Arkansas. It’s still an unlikely threat and a short window for that to even occur, but we’ll monitor any icing threat closely as the weekend approaches.

Beyond Sunday, there’s no other precipitation, much less wintry weather in sight. Another warm-up ensues next week with a ridge in the jet stream maintaining itself over the west. Until the jet stream pattern changes, it’s hard to have any moisture coming our way or to have any cold spell beyond a day or two. 8 to 14 days out, the Climate Prediction Center has Oklahoma as bulls-eye to above-normal readings.

Many have started asking me if that groundhog named Phil was right and if spring is coming early. My answer is this: El Niño’s influence will remain strong through March, which promotes strong southern storm systems this time of year. Once that pattern likely resumes, we might have just enough cold air at some point to see some wintry weather.  However, the Arctic Oscillation (the measure of the north or southward displacement of the jet stream in North America) is not coming in with a clear signal in the next few weeks. Thus, it’s still a mystery if we’ll see any other major cold spells. We can’t give up on winter until about halfway through March around here though, so we can’t let our guard down just yet.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter: @GroganotheGO and on my Facebook page for the latest weather updates!

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