Fire Danger Concerns.

Thursday, February 20th 2014, 6:55 pm
By: News On 6

As bad as the wind was today around here, notice the map on the right, courtesy of the OK Mesonet. Maximum gusts of 60 mph or more occurred in NW Ok while our winds were ‘only' in the 40+ range for the most part. Bad enough to be sure, and of course if you were walking around downtown today you most certainly encountered locally much stronger winds. The buildings downtown act to produce much stronger winds in localized areas, an effect known as the Venturi Effect. This is basically what occurs when you put your finger over the end of a water hose causing the water to come out much faster. Probably more than you wanted to know, but thought I would throw that out there in case anyone was interested.

The pressure gradient will be relaxing quickly this evening as high pressure settles over the area but that high pressure ridge will also be moving on eastward rather quickly. Together with falling pressure to our west, the result will be increasing S/SW winds for Friday with those winds becoming rather gusty during the afternoon. Sunny skies, temperatures reaching well into the 60s, and humidity levels dropping to near 20% all add up to another high fire danger situation. At least the winds will be light first thing in the morning and along with clear skies our morning lows will be near 30 so a chilly start to the day.

More changes are coming our way over the course of the weekend with another front arriving on Saturday. Southerly winds and mild temperatures ahead of the boundary will be followed by northerly winds and a return to cooler conditions for Saturday afternoon and Sunday. We will also have more cloud cover, but right now it appears only a slight chance of a few light showers on Sunday.

The flow aloft will be amplifying once again throughout the coming week generally keeping temperatures a bit cooler than normal. We will also have more cloudiness each day, but little or no mention of rain. We will carry a very slight chance of a few light showers on a couple of days next week, but by and large this is pretty much a dry forecast. In fact, the 7 day QPF map on the right, valid through this coming Thursday keeps much of the state high and dry with most of what happens well to our east.

However, there are some indications from the longer range guidance that it could get a little more interesting along about Friday/Saturday of next week. Both the GFS and the ECMWF are suggesting a much more aggressive precipitation signal along about then, but at this time frame the amounts and type are very uncertain. From a climatic perspective, late February into March is historically when we have received some of our heaviest wintry precipitation.

Speaking of precipitation, 2014 is getting off to an extremely dry start. To date, we have only received 0.41" which is the second driest start to a year on record, behind only 1912.

So, stay tuned and check back for updates.

Dick Faurot