Now that we have come to the end of March, temperatures for the year to date continue to reflect how warm the year has started. In spite of how cool the last few days have been, March of 2017 will still be the 10th warmest on record and the Jan 1-Mar 31 time frame now stands as the second warmest on record. 2012 still holds the record in both of those categories and for that matter 2012 stands as the warmest calendar year on record. By the way, today was certainly on the cool side with a max/min so far of 62/42; here are the normal and record values for this date or any other.
And, for you gardeners, it is looking more and more like the freeze back on March 15 may well be the last freeze of the cool season. Notice the normal and record last freeze dates as they apply to Tulsa. Keep in mind that these dates are only for Tulsa and the outlying, more rural locations would certainly be later than these dates. In fact, another significant cool down looks to be headed our way next week with the potential for a late season frost/freeze. More about that in a moment.
As you can see on the map, courtesy of the OK Mesonet, the lingering cloud cover once again had quite an impact on temperatures across the state. The more northern counties stayed in the 50s whereas those with more sunshine throughout the day made it well into the 70s.
Now that the clouds have thinned out, generally fair skies for most of the night should give way to partly cloudy to mostly cloudy skies for at least a brief time by early morning. Together with a brisk NE wind through the night, look for temperatures to drop to near the 50 degree mark to start the day on Saturday. The early morning cloud cover should then burn off enough for a good bit of sunshine by mid-day before clouds start increasing again that afternoon and evening. Also, brisk SE winds will be developing so that combination of more sun and a SE wind should push afternoon temperatures well into the 70s. However, the increasing clouds are in advance of the next storm system coming our way which should bring a good chance of showers and possible storms for Saturday night and into the day Sunday. Right now, it appears that much of the day Saturday should be fine for outdoor activities on this side of the state as the more western counties will see storm development earlier in the day and some may be severe.
We should get at least a brief break in the showers/storms during the day Sunday before another round of widespread rain and showers with possibly some embedded thunder arrives later in the day and that night. That activity will likely linger well into the morning hours of Monday before moving on eastward and should then be followed by skies clearing from W-E by later in the day. Notice the 3 day QPF suggests the potential for another inch or so of rain with this particular system for much of the state. Keep in mind, this is an areal average so some locations could receive locally much more and nearby locations much less. At least the potential is there for some decent rainfall which is badly needed.
As you can see on our forecast page, the combination of clouds and occasional periods of rain/showers together with our winds shifting back to a northerly direction on Sunday will keep temperatures on the mild side for Sun/Mon time frame. Tuesday will see a return to brisk southerly winds and plenty of sunshine for most of the day so it looks to be the warmest day of this forecast cycle. Another cold front then on schedule to arrive either that night or into the morning hours of Wednesday, but the current data runs suggest it may be lacking in moisture so will only carry a slight chance of showers/storms for the Tuesday night into the day Wednesday time frame.
However, this system also has the potential to bring a more significant cool-down as brisk northerly winds together with the clouds should keep us in the lower 60s for Wednesday and the cloud cover will then determine how cool Thursday and Friday will be. The current data suggests lingering clouds and morning lows in the lower 40s for Thursday morning and with northerly winds only making it into the upper 50s that afternoon. If we clear out as expected, then Friday morning could see many locations in the 30s which suggests the potential for at least some frost and perhaps even a light freeze for the normally cooler valley locations. Something to keep in mind. That would then be followed by another rebound in temperatures for that weekend.
In fact, the 8-14 day outlook continue so support warmer than normal temperatures, on average. I also now suggests a near normal precipitation pattern so at least a chance for some scattered storm activity going into that second week of April.
In the meantime, stay tuned and check back for updates.