Big Temperature Swings and High Fire Danger This Week
Winter has gone easy on us recently. Even with a cold start in the teens and 20s Sunday morning, temperatures rebounded (by 45° or more) in the afternoon with highs in the 60s. A cold front Sunday night is sending those readings plummeting into the 20s with wind chill values dipping to as cold as 10° for the start of our Monday. Even if moisture is missing, it’s clear our weather is acting up and won’t be settling down for a while.
The current cold front is the first of several to plow through the state in the next week. In this progressive jet stream pattern, we will waffle between cold, modified-Arctic air and warmer air from the south. This progressive pattern also means lots of winds with strong storm systems racing eastward across the U.S. South winds return Tuesday allowing for a significant warm-up into midweek. By Wednesday, we’ll be in the 60s to near 70° in Green Country! It comes at a price with strong south winds enhancing fire danger. Moisture in the air and ground is lacking and this is a bad combination with expected wind speeds. Gusts as high as 30mph could send any flames whipping quickly out of control. Fires could spread as fast as 200 feet per minute in that environment. Below is an outline of the fire danger through midweek.
Thursday’s cold front could squeeze out enough moisture to bring light showers, mainly east of Tulsa. A few snowflakes could even mix in near the Arkansas line, but this will not be a concern for travelers. Unfortunately, yet another storm system will pass us by with meager moisture, ensuring our drought only worsens. Below, you’ll see that all of Green Country is in some form of drought at this point. The longer range outlook into mid-February doesn’t show much change to this dry pattern for us as Gulf moisture remains locked up for now as shown below as well.
We’ll end the upcoming week on a colder note, but bitterly cold air likely remains well to our north through at least Saturday. There are signs of another major Arctic blast early next week, but our computer models have WIDE disagreements on how that could evolve. One model calls for sunshine and 60s in Tulsa on Sunday while the other calls for wind-driven snow. Time will tell which solution wins out, but the trend of the winter has been for drier air to win out in the end.
Snow-lovers, don’t lose hope though! We’re only halfway through winter and the wetter half of the season gets going in February into early March for Oklahoma. Every couple of weeks, we usually see a big pattern shift, and the next one deeper into February could bring us some long-awaited snow, if not moisture at the very least.