Storms and Serious Heat Ahead
Before we dive into a full-blown mid-summer weather pattern, a round or two of storms is poised to affect Green Country. Some of these could be strong or even severe and the threat is just hours away from writing this update.
Storms forming across western Oklahoma and southern Kansas on our Tuesday afternoon are expected to grow upscale into a complex that could race our direction tonight. Late spring is the most common time for us to see these big squall lines approach in the middle of the night. These are called mesoscale convective systems (MCSs for short). They tend to bring high winds sent out from the cold pool of air within the complex. An occasional leading-edge tornado can occur although the conditions are not optimal for that tonight. Below is a potential radar depiction of storms tonight.
The direction these storms take tonight is not set in stone. There’s even the potential for the complex to fall apart before it reaches most of our area. However, it appears right now at least storms in a weakening state will arrive from the west after 10pm and bring some wind, rain and thunder to much of the area overnight with the highest chances northwest of Tulsa.
Unfortunately, the timing of these storms won’t be good for cooling us off. By Wednesday morning, much of the rain will be winding down as skies clear again, leading to an especially muggy afternoon thanks to added moisture in the air. Another round of storms may fire and come our way Wednesday night. These could also be strong to locally severe, although weaken again with eastward and southward extent due to an increasing CAP.
The rain these storms provide will be welcome, especially in light of our abnormally dry May. Being the hottest May on record, we have lost more moisture from our ground than usual as well. Those that miss on the rain in the next few days may have to wait quite awhile for another opportunity as a dominant heat ridge develops over the Southern Plains shown below.
As the jet stream retreats northward even further, a July and August-like weather pattern settles in. Already, unseasonable heat has built into much of the U.S. with Minneapolis hitting their earliest 100° reading on record. As the high pressure ridge (the heat dome) expands, we could see our mercury rising to 100 °or higher by Friday and Saturday. The heat index could make it to 105°, adding extra stress to anyone having to work outdoors. Below is a day-by-day break down of how hot it may feel each day. This is especially serious since it comes so early, not allowing us as much time to acclimate to such heat. Hot weather is the biggest weather-related killer year-to-year in the U.S. so it must be taken seriously, especially by the most vulnerable populations.
A brief cool-down likely comes at the end of our weekend when a cold front dives into the area. It may be short-lived as that storm system quickly fades and the ridge expands again. More triple-digit heat could await us in that first week in June. In fact, the outlook into mid-June calls for this heat wave to continue.
Does this mean that we are heading into a brutal summer? I know many of us think back to the scorching 2012 summer when similar conditions preceded June, July and August. It certainly seems to us that the northward shift in the jet stream is fairly permanent at this point. It would take a particularly potent wave to dive south to spark widespread severe weather and cool us significantly. The hot pattern could shift, but the chances are low at this point.