Dick Faurot's Weather Blog: Oklahoma May Be in for a Perfect Storm!

Tuesday, June 16th 2015, 5:14 pm
By: News On 6

The Perfect Storm; with all apologies to the book and movie of about 15 years or so ago, we are faced with what has the makings of “a perfect storm” for much of OK and into Arkansas over the next couple of days. To set the stage, notice the first map which has the recent rainfall totals across the state courtesy of the OK Mesonet. After a very dry start to the month of June which allowed things to finally start drying out and lake levels to finally start dropping, the rains over the weekend and into early this week have once again been very generous.

When combined with the rains for much of April and through May which the second map shows, it is obvious that we are already too wet. Bottom line is anything that falls from the sky over the next few days will quickly become run-off as the ground is saturated. Problem is that there are not many places for the water to go due to the high lake levels as noted at: 


Now, combine that with Tropical Storm Bill which is currently moving ashore along the Texas coast. Bill will weaken as it moves inland but its projected track should take it slowly northward across OK for the Wed/Thu time frame. Torrential rains often accompany tropical systems and together with the antecedent conditions already in place across OK, we have the potential for a very deadly flood event in the days ahead.

Keep in mind, tropical systems this far inland are notorious for their erratic behavior so there is plenty of uncertainty regarding the exact track and therefore, the amount of rain that will be dropped at any particular location. In fact, cannot rule out the possibility that the system could even re-intensify over the Sooner State; it has happened before with TS Erin back in 2007 so that is not unprecedented.

Typically, the heaviest rains will occur under and in the NE quadrant of tropical systems which is why the exact track is so important. Current projections take the remnant surface circulation just E of I-35 into OK late Wed and then slowly NE from there into NW Ark. Any deviation in that track can make a huge difference in where the heaviest rains occur. As you can see on the 3 day QPF map, valid through Friday morning, the axis of heaviest precipitation is expected to make a gradual curve to the NE. But, that axis could easily shift a bit to the east or the west. Also, would not be surprised if some local totals are in excess of 10” by the time it is all said and done.

Another consideration is that the circulation at the surface and aloft creates a more favorable environment for water spout type tornadoes. Of course, we would refer to them as land spouts. Typically, these would be very small, short-lived, and in the low end of the EF scale so we would NOT expect any high end, super cellular type systems. Problem though will be in identifying these very small, very weak, short-lived circulations that will be embedded in large areas of rain. In other words, any advance warning of these type systems will be difficult at best.

The good news in all of this, as you can see on the forecast page, is that if we can make it to the weekend without needing an ark, conditions will be improving by then with little or no mention of rain and more summer-like temperatures. In the meantime, keep a close eye on the sky and remember: Turn Around, Don't Drown!

Dick Faurot