Fire Danger Flaring Up Again
We have closed out a beautiful holiday weekend here in Oklahoma. Clear and dry weather dominated with cool nights and very mild days. All this warmth is deceptive to our growing proximity to Christmas. (less than a month away!) Unfortunately, Indian Summer days often come with enhanced fire risk. This is especially true here in the third driest November on record for Tulsa. As the winds increase Monday, we could have some big issues on our hands.
Occasional freezing temperatures over the past month have allowed much of our vegetation to go dormant across the state. After a particularly wet spring and summer, we now have extra dried-out fuel for fires waiting for a spark. Strong winds can readily fan those flames. By Monday afternoon, wind gusts could top 30mph ahead of our next storm system arriving midweek. Even as Gulf moisture seeps back into Green Country thanks this southerly flow, those winds will counteract higher humidity values. The bottom line is that outdoor burning will be dangerous and irresponsible on Monday…and really until we receive some decent rainfall as the wind rarely stops blowing in Oklahoma! Below, you’ll see some of the ingredients coming together for a high fire danger day.
Fortunately a storm system arriving late Tuesday into Wednesday brings hope of some rainfall, albeit spotty and mostly light. Recent computer model trends are a bit wetter so this might end up being somewhat beneficial, especially for northeast Oklahoma into Kansas as the model below shows. This will settle the fire danger down and also bring our temperatures from near-record levels Monday afternoon to more seasonable readings in the upper 50s for highs in the second half of the work week. This system is of Pacific origin so it will not bring any significant cold air with it. As this active west-to-east-oriented jet stream screams across the country, there will bring no opportunities for Arctic air to reach us. I am not seeing a major cold spell anytime soon, even into early December.
As we look further out, there is a change in our weather pattern, however. A series of stronger storm systems will be oriented in such a way that brings more moisture to Oklahoma. Rain chances are likely to rise in about a week. Hopefully that will do more to tamp down the fire danger. We could be in for a long fire season otherwise. If you’re eagerly awaiting that first taste of wintry weather, be patient. A shift south in the jet stream seems to be on the horizon about 10 days into December. That will greatly increase our odds of cold and perhaps wintry conditions!