From Balmy to BRRRR and A Lot of Wind In Between
The buds have bloomed, and the temperatures are soaring. The warmest air of the season so far is here with readings over 15° above normal. Spring seems to be fully underway, but the seasonal shift is not fully over. High winds over the next few days will greatly enhance our fire danger and then we are in for a cold spell that could send our wind chill down into the 20s. Don’t put away those windbreakers and coats just yet!
Our midweek warm-up comes ahead of a strong upper-level storm system racing across the Rockies into the Plains. By Wednesday morning, wind gusts between 40 and 50 mph are possible across Green Country. I hope it doesn’t happen to be your trash day! The bigger issue is the fire danger that comes with the wind and low humidity. The moisture return is meager with this storm system (being early in the season still), which means that conditions are primed for wildfires. Flames could spread up to 350 feet per minute so clearly it is a day to avoid burning outdoors. The strong winds will continue on the backside of the storm system on Thursday as well with gusts to at least 30 mph.
On top of the wind, high temperatures will again be within 5° of a record Wednesday afternoon. It’ll also be warm aloft, which means a stout CAP will be in place, limiting any storm formation along the incoming cold front Wednesday night. While a brief downpour or narrow squall line could form, severe weather appears unlikely due to the CAP strength and lack of low-level moisture.
Like a slap in the face, colder air will rush in behind the front. Thursday will be cool and windy, but sunshine should keep our temperatures from getting too cold. By Thursday night, however, our temperatures may plunge into the 30s with a wind chill dipping into the 20s at times. After near-record warmth, that is definite weather whiplash! The Tulsa metro area will likely avoid a freeze, but at least a light frost could occur north of town Friday morning.
Colder air is reinforced by the weekend as another storm system with a more southerly track arrives. Cloud cover overspreads the area Friday night with showers breaking out by midday Saturday. This will limit the daytime warm-up, keeping us in the 40s all day Saturday with occasional rain. Yuck! If you think that’s bad, the map below shows how it may even be cold enough to snow AND accumulate in far western Oklahoma! A few snowflakes could even mix in with the rain north of Tulsa as it tapers of Sunday morning. If you planned on any outdoor activities, you may need to save them for Sunday afternoon when the storm system finally clears out of here. Even then, we’re unlikely to warm above 60°.
Temperatures will be quick to recover early next week, but too late for weekend warriors. The active storm pattern continues next week with a more favorable set-up for strong or severe storms in about a week. Looking all the way to Easter weekend, a colder than normal pattern is back with us again as shown below. It’s very possible today and Wednesday are the warmest days until the very end of April! Before long, we will consistently have the necessary warmth and moisture for severe weather. If I were a betting man, I’d say that time comes in 2 weeks. Now is the perfect time to review your severe weather plan with your family and coworkers.