Summer in Oklahoma typically means long stretches of hot, dry weather with a few brief spells of rain and storms. Ever since Tropical Depression dumped widespread 2” to 6” of rain in our area, the spigot has been shut off and the sun has reigned supreme day to day. This is a typical and much-needed dry spell for our swollen lakes, rivers and streams, but this quiet weather pattern is now gradually giving way to active weather yet again… just in time for the holiday weekend. Be sure to check ahead to your lake to make sure all planned recreation is open. Most lake levels are falling into a safe range at this time. Here's a look at current lake levels throughout the state.
We are in a common jet stream pattern we call “Northwesterly Flow,” meaning, the air aloft is moving from NW to SE. It’s an open door for cold fronts to make headway into our area, which can be a rare occurrence in the middle of summer due to a northward displaced jet stream. However, the pattern is causing a trough to dig into the Midwest, allowing our first sizable upper-level wave and associated surface cold front to settle into Oklahoma on Thursday. There’s no lack of heat and moisture, and with the cold front and upper-level support as a trigger, vigorous storm development is likely. This will be our first widespread chance of rain, storms and even severe weather in a while. While tornadoes aren’t likely, powerful winds and large hail will be common along a squall line of storms that will likely form from mid to late afternoon across the northern Oklahoma. Our heat may quickly give way to strong winds and torrential downpours so be aware of rapidly changing weather later on Thursday.
That’s just the beginning of an unsettled stretch of weather that will last through the weekend. That frontal boundary will likely stall out in the area and as little ripples in that Northwesterly Flow pattern move across the state, new showers and storms will likely form. This means about at any given point Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you can’t rule out a round of rain or storms to impact your outdoor plans. It certainly won’t rain for that entire stretch. In fact, I would be surprised if the majority of the weekend had rain falling at any one spot. However, these rains may be heavy and could lead to flash flooding. At the very least, you’ll have some mud to contend with. It appears Saturday (the fourth) may actually have the least amount of showers and storms firing with only a very minor trigger for rain. However, I’d have a back-up plan when it comes to anything outdoors. If you’re debating whether or not to attend a fireworks display, I wouldn’t change your plans just yet. The positive news about the rain is that it will keep the risk of fires from errant fireworks down just a bit. While most of the storms will remain below severe limits, there will be enough available CAPE (instability) to cause pulse severe storms with hail and wind threats.
This wet pattern, that may drop a few inches of rain through the weekend in our area (see attached map), will probably come to a halt (at least briefly) by late Sunday as stronger ridging in the upper levels builds in again, sending the stormy zone back to the northeast. Another frontal boundary may try to shift in again midweek next week, but it’s often a big question mark that a front will end up making into Oklahoma in July. Climatology tends to side with keeping us dry and away from the storms when a ridge is present.