Will take a few paragraphs for a look back at 2016 and how it compared to our climatological extremes and normal values.  A couple of things really stand out regarding 2016; first is the precipitation or rather the lack thereof and the second is temperature as both variables were in the extreme category over the course of the past year.

Regarding precipitation, here is how Tulsa did for the year in comparison to normal and in comparison to last year.  Quite a contrast as 2015 was the third wettest year on record and 2016 recorded less than half of the 2016 total and was more than a foot below normal. 


This map illustrates how the rest of the state did in 2016 as compared to what the normal values are and obviously the eastern half of the state has been quite dry and the SW corner the only relatively wet part of the state.  That has led to the widespread development of drought across much of OK once again which is quite a change after the flooding rains that were common at the end of 2015. 


With regard to temperatures, Tulsa recorded its second warmest year on record, behind only 2012 which was far and away the warmest year.  That is despite having fewer days at or above triple digits during the summer time than normal.  We only had 7 triple digit days which is about half the long term normal value.  The main reason for the year as a whole coming in so warm was the record setting warmth that dominated the fall season from Sep-Nov.  In contrast, the month of December has turned out to be very close to normal with respect to temperature as the record cold snap centered around Dec 18 was followed by near record warmth by Dec 25 so the extremes have averaged out in that regard.


Now that 2016 is in the record books, 2017 looks to start off with some extreme changes over a matter of days.  The cool front that came through the state today will be stalling out in SE OK as the air mass behind it is very shallow.  However, the northerly winds and generally fair skies for tonight should allow temperatures to drop off quickly with 30s by the midnight hour for you New Year’s Eve revelers.  We should start Sunday morning with temperatures near the freezing mark which is above normal.  Increasing clouds during the day and a more SE breeze should result in afternoon temperatures reaching the mid 50s which is also well above normal.  By the way, the normal values at this time of year are 47/28 for the max/min.

As the clouds increase there will be a slight chance of a few showers for the far E/SE counties late in the day with better chances area wide for Sunday night into the day Monday.  There may even be a few storms, again most likely for the far SE counties into the Monday morning time frame.  What rains do fall will generally be light with a few lucky folks perhaps picking up ½-1”.  Certainly not a drought buster.

Southerly winds and cloudy skies Monday morning will result in a very mild start with temperatures likely near 50 to start the day.  After the showers move out during the late morning or early afternoon hours, we may have enough clearing from W-E for afternoon temperatures to be close to the 70 degree mark.

Then there is Tuesday and the rest of the week as you can see on our forecast page.  Another arctic blast will have arrived by Tuesday morning with strong northerly winds and much colder conditions.  Tuesday itself will be a transition day as the coldest air will be settling in that evening/night and then hanging around for the rest of the week.  As a result, temperatures for Tuesday are challenging as it looks like we may get a little rebound during the day before the really cold air settles in.  At any rate, look for a very short thermometer for Tuesday and cannot rule out an inverted temperature profile with the warmest readings that morning and cooler values that afternoon.

Regardless, Wednesday through the rest of the week will be quite cold with daytime highs struggling to get above the freezing mark and overnight lows in the teens to lower 20s.  Since it does not appear that we will completely clear out, that will help keep temperatures from bottoming out at night but will also keep us from warming much during the day. 

Along with the clouds comes the possibility of some wintry precipitation, particularly along about the Thu/Fri time frame.  The wind pattern aloft will be the real key in that regard and so far the longer range guidance continues to suggest only rather weak upper level systems moving over the state and no major storm system is currently foreseen.  For that reason, will keep the snowfall potential rather low for now with flurries or some occasional light snow possible and accumulations of only an inch or so if even that.  Keep in mind, that is certainly subject to change as the systems of interest are currently out in the Pacific Ocean and lots can change in the days ahead.

At any rate, look for temperatures to remain below normal through the coming weekend, but after that we will get a break with a warming trend for the early part of that following week.  In fact, the 8-14 day guidance now suggests temperatures averaging close to normal for that particular time period although we still do not see much of a precipitation signal anytime soon.



As always, stay tuned and check back for updates.

Dick Faurot