Our weekend turned wild in almost an instant in the Tulsa area. The EF-2 tornado that struck midtown and portions of east Tulsa was the strongest of 4 that occurred along the leading edge of severe storms that tore into the northeast Oklahoma late Saturday night into Sunday morning. In a single radar scan, the velocity signature on radar went from looking fairly benign to a potent spin-up with winds reaching 130 mph. This just goes to show how quickly Oklahoma weather can change! It was a rarity to see not just one but two confirmed tornadoes in Tulsa County in August. As you can see below, only two others have occurred in the county since records have been kept, and those occurred over half a century ago!
No more tornadoes are anticipated in the near-future fortunately, and while the weather pattern becomes more active again, our temperatures are not rising much further. The next week continues to offer us cooler than normal weather with highs only reaching the 80s. What a treat! It’s thanks to the air mass that came crashing in behind our weekend storms that has become locked in place. So far, it’s been the 9th coolest start to August for Tulsa with regards to high temperatures and this trend likely keeps us in the Top 10 going forward.
The active storm track is shifting back over Oklahoma in the coming days. As these waves of energy pass overhead, a surface frontal boundary will move into the area and stall out, providing a focus for rain and storm development. With a steady-state jet stream pattern into the weekend and early next week, we will see repeated rounds of rain and thunderstorms. The strongest waves appear to arrive early Friday and Saturday, but even beyond there, heavy rain is likely to fall in the area. After last weekend’s 2” to 5” that fell, our soils can only hold so much more moisture. Quick run-off will likely lead to flash flooding by the weekend. In fact, upwards of half a foot of water may fall over a widespread area. August is rarely known for flooding, but this is clearly not an ordinary August underway!
How long will be in the mild, wet pattern? That is the big question. Through at least the end of next week, it appears we will continue to see rain and storms frequenting our area. This keeps us from heating up too much. The notorious heat ridge we often see at this point in the summer remains suppressed to our southwest. The bigger question may be, will this wet pattern interfere with viewing the August 21st solar eclipse? As the map below shows, the wet signal continues in our computer models from the Plains eastward. However, individual timing of storm systems is still very fluid that far out. It’s possible we’d end up with mostly clear skies that day, but the likelihood is lower than normal for this time of year. The same could be said further north in the “Path of Totality.” If you’re eclipse-chasing like myself, you’ll want to closely follow that forecast starting a week out to plan the most suitable viewing spot. We’ll keep you posted on this!
In the meantime, keep the umbrella, galoshes and a boat close by. We are in for quite the wet spell. At least it’s not 110°! We are scooting past the hottest normal time of the summer rather unscorched. For more weather updates, be sure to follow me on Twitter: @GroganontheGO and on my Facebook Page.