The wild swings in temperatures continue. One day it's in the 60s with sunshine. The next day, we are piling on the layers to face sub-zero wind chill values. The warm-up begins, and before we know it, it's the weekend where we all get spring fever once again. Rinse and repeat. This is quite the ride, which becomes more and more nauseating to most people as it wears on.
If you're looking for something to blame, we have to look north and up in the atmosphere to that stubborn polar vortex that continues to spin between Hudson Bay in Canada and the Great Lakes. (See first map) This puts Oklahoma in a strong northerly and northwesterly flow in the jet stream. We're close enough to the core of Arctic air that we experience the cold blasts every several days from cold fronts that race into the region. We're far enough away from it, however, that the cold air erodes and we get a nice, but fleeting warm spell. The Southwest has been bone dry and enjoying above-normal readings. Unfortunately they continue to fall further and further into the drought.
The one thing that hasn't changed through these ups and downs is the dry air. Gulf moisture has been shut off and each incoming cold front carries very little water with it due the dry, continental air mass that accompanies it. As a result, drought has begun to build in intensity across the state again. The second map shows where Oklahoma stands this week.
Looking ahead, we've got one more (awesome) mild day on Sunday with highs in the 60s. Yet, as you've guessed, another Arctic front is racing towards Oklahoma. This means we go from spring-like readings to near-0° wind chill values Monday morning with highs in the 20s that day. The sub-freezing air heads so far south that portions of south Texas and the Deep South are under the gun for another round of wintry weather. A few flurries may be flying in the area Tuesday, but you'll actually have to head south to see anything of snowy significance, strangely enough! Fortunately, this may be the last wild temperature swing we see in a little while as the overall jet stream pattern begins to shift.
By midweek, the polar vortex begins to retreat northward and the jet stream begins to flatten out. This is significant as it allows for a different storm track from the west. This is more conducive to wet weather as Gulf moisture can begin to return north. By the weekend, a disturbance may allow for a little light rain or even light freezing rain. There's no major winter storm potential in the next week, but a wetter and cooler than normal pattern may develop as we head into February, which may heighten the chance for unsettled weather. The next map shows the precipitation outlook for roughly the first week of February. This is great news for our fire concerns, but could mean wintry weather once again.