Temperatures are approaching 70° this afternoon around the Tulsa metro area. Here are the maximum temperatures as of early afternoon in the first attached map. (That cold patch in northwest Oklahoma is being affected by snow cover.) After a full week of cold winds, rain, and snow, this feels wonderful! I've certainly got a case of spring fever and some of those early blooming flowers got the memo that the new season is almost upon us. Almost.
Today's warmth will be followed by a substantial cool-down. A strong storm system will bypass the region without more than a few overnight showers, but a quick surge of modified Arctic air will spill down into the southern Plains Tuesday. It takes a lot more oomph to get winter-like air in Oklahoma for more than a day or two by March. We know it's too early to let our guard down with regards to snow, but the increasing sun angle makes it harder to get cold enough air to stick around for any serious winter storm. However, it is the time of year for potent storm systems to plow through our region, making Oklahoma the battleground for different air masses.
This week's battle will feature a cold rush of air in front of this surge of warmth followed by a gradual return of mild, moist air towards late week. A powerful upper-level low (the trigger for a strong storm system) will move into the southwest United States by the weekend and bring back enough moisture to bring showers and thunderstorms to the forecast late Saturday into Sunday. The timing of the system isn't nailed down, but there's little doubt that we'll see a round of rain and some storms in its passage. We'll be in the warm sector for this storm so winter weather is less of an issue. Severe storms might be a growing concern depending on the timing and instability of the atmosphere.
We've officially moved into "meteorological spring" (March, April & May), but I hinted that Old Man Winter may not be done with us quite yet. While I don't foresee any snow, we won't be gliding into 70° weather on a regular basis for a little while. In fact, in the wake of the weekend's storm system, we'll be caught in another cool pattern with a trough in the jet stream promoting several waves of cool air to rush into Oklahoma. The Climate Prediction Center's 6-10 Day Outlook is the attached map showing below-normal readings expected for that period. It's a similar situation out to two weeks. If a storm system with enough moisture in it can work its way into our region, we still could have a little wintry weather to contend with.
For those ready to move on to spring (my favorite season), at least we're at the tail end of winter. It wasn't a bad one with warmer-than-normal temperatures. We had an average temperature of 41.7° and only 3.7" of snow officially at Tulsa International Airport. Not to say we won't add to that total, but the chances grow a bit slimmer with each passing day.