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Warming Trend & Rain Chances

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Here is a final look back at the weekend ice storm across the state with data compiled by the good folks at the NWS offices in Tulsa and OKC.  First is the tally from OKC which clearly shows the magnitude of the storm over NW OK. 

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Next is the tally from Tulsa and although some locations did receive up to ½” of freezing rain, the impacts were diminished by the length of time it took for the rain to fall and the fact that temperatures hung right around the freezing mark.  It was just a matter of another degree or two of temperature drop which would have enhanced the ice build-up and the subsequent impacts would have been much worse.

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Anyway, that was then and this is now with another day of above normal temperatures.  The max/min here in Tulsa for today has been 53/34 as compared to the normal values of 48/27.  Look for warmer than normal conditions for the rest of the week and for that matter into the following week.  We do have another storm system that will be moving across the state over the weekend, but the air behind it will not be nearly as cold as what we experienced last week.

At any rate, cloudy skies will persist through the night tonight along with a light SE breeze.  That means temperatures will not cool off much and morning lows will generally be in the low-mid 40s to start the day.  However, the abundant low level moisture may also produce some drizzle and lower visibility due to patchy fog for the overnight hours as well.

Thursday will start off overcast but we should get to see at least some afternoon sunshine which together with a SE breeze will result in a warmer day.  After starting the day in the 40s, look for most locations to reach the low-mid 60s for the afternoon hours, depending on just how much of a break in the cloud cover takes place.

Friday and Saturday look to be milder yet as you can see on our forecast page.  Morning lows generally in the 40s, daytime highs well into the 60s, and brisk southerly winds will certainly keep temperatures much above normal.  Cloud cover is the main caveat regarding just how warm we will be on either of those days as it does not appear that we will have full sun anytime soon.

In fact, our next major chance for showers and perhaps even some thunder looks to be Saturday night into the morning hours of Sunday.  Notice the upper level wind chart at approximately the 18,000’ level valid for Sunday morning.  At this time of year, a storm system of that intensity and in that position would typically be a big snow maker for us.  But, this system just does not have any cold air to work with and although we will certainly be turning cooler during the day Sunday along with gusty northerly winds, the current thermal profile at the surface and aloft does not support anything more than liquid precipitation.  In fact, there may even be some thunder associated with this particular system.   Notice also there are several more storm systems stacked up in the Pacific and the zonal or W-E flow will bring those onto the west coast in the following days.

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That is why the 7 day QPF is showing such heavy moisture accumulation for the W Coast, but notice only light amounts for us and then much heavier amounts on to the east.  As the storm systems move onto the W Coast, much of their moisture is wrung out by the mountains and they don’t really tap into the moisture from the Gulf of Mexico until they are on east of us; at least that has been the pattern for much of the winter with the exception of the system last weekend.

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Looking further down the road, the pattern aloft is expected to amplify with a stronger N-S flow coming down out of Canada later next week which would lead to a return to cooler conditions.  However, this does not suggest another arctic outbreak coming our way, but the colder Canadian air will certainly bring temperatures back down to at or below normal as you can see on the 8-14 day outlook.

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Keep in mind, we are now about half way through the winter season from a climatological perspective, and our heaviest snows often have occurred in March so we still have a long way to go.

Dick Faurot

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