For the first time in 13 months, October's average temperature was a cooler-than-average. However, as we step into the 11th month of a record warm 2012, temperatures are going up. Our weather has been unusually quiet, which is partly attributed to the remnants of Sandy. It was such a large and deep low-pressure system (breaking several records in that department) that it acted to keep us in a benign northwesterly flow pattern with no storm systems of consequence.
Sandy will finally get a boot to the east and allow for a more progressive jet stream pattern. That will allow a cold front to push through Oklahoma on Saturday. Before that happens, we'll see southerly winds increase due to a tightening pressure gradient. Those southerly winds will bring up our temperatures to near-record levels and enhance the fire danger across the state.
Speaking of which, did I mention its getting awfully dry again? Because of our quiet pattern, rain has been scarce and our drought improvement has ceased. In fact, most of Tulsa County is back to Extreme Drought – the second worst drought category. Unfortunately, Saturday's system will be lacking the moisture to bring the widespread, soaking rain that we need. What the front will do is bring our temperatures to seasonable levels for the weekend and much of next week.
While November can bring very strong storm systems as colder air to the north amasses and plunges south, it may not bring too many opportunities for beneficial rain. The fact of the matter is drought begets drought. Since we can't supply the immediate atmosphere with moisture due to dry ambient soil conditions, we have to rely on moisture transport, generally from the Gulf of Mexico to bring us better rain chances. While that may happen at some point, the Climate Prediction Center shows below-normal rainfall for most of the state this month. Another reason I'm not as optimistic about drought improvement now is that the predictions for an El Niño winter are no longer panning out. Sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean have leveled out into a neutral ENSO pattern. Essentially, that means the effects of a stronger subtropical jet stream (which often gives us wetter weather) will not be in place. Thus, as we go into our climatologically driest time of the year, we just can't count on too much relief. We're still better off than we were at this time last year. However, the end of 2011 actually brought us abundant rainfall to erase a good portion of the drought.
Enjoy the warm to mild air. I think we'd be accurate in calling it an Indian Summer! Most of us have already had a taste of freezing temperatures so we know, with the change of months, that colder days are just around the corner.