There was hardly a location in eastern Oklahoma that didn't get blasted by strong winds as an early season cold front barreled through the region Friday afternoon. It was not a good time to be outside as temperatures tumbled from the triple-digits to the 80s in a matter of minutes with 40-60 mph gusts. It was enough to stir up a lot of dust and debris. That was just what happened in Tulsa right around 4:00pm on Friday. The metro area got off easy compared to our friends to the north and east.
Nowata was the epicenter of bad weather yesterday. Sitting right at 100º, Nowata was dealing with its 29th afternoon of triple-digit heat on Friday. That same afternoon, a powerful thunderstorm blossomed on the leading edge of the cold front, fueled by that excessive heat. That storm went on to produce a microburst with winds between 80 and 100 mph. It did the same damage a tornado could do and was quite an example of how heat meeting up with strong forcing (like a cold front) is a recipe for high winds and powerful storms in general. Many other areas saw wind damage with the passage of the front as well. It was a rough transition to a cooler regime.
Cooler is right. Saturday turned out to be 20º-25º cooler than Friday, which hopefully was the last day of widespread 100º+ heat for the year. (Those remarkable September readings are shown above.) Temperatures fell from the 100s to the 50s by Saturday morning as a modified Canadian air mass settled in. This weekend has been our first taste of fall, but we may have not seen the end of summer quite yet.
A ridge of high pressure aloft will build back over the Southern Plains during the week ahead. We won't be seeing our temperatures soaring into the triple-digits, but it will be warm by September standards. I anticipate cool nights and warm days with highs back into the 90s. Why so warm after such a cool-down? Aside from the strength of the ridge building in, we are still very dry. Dry air allows for greater temperature fluctuations. Beyond midweek, another cold front will likely break our heat and, hopefully, bring some rain.
In other news, the Tropics remain very active. Tropical Storm Leslie is giving Bermuda a glancing blow and Michael (that's my storm!) is a Category 2 Hurricane in the middle of the North Atlantic. That's what we call a fish storm – little or no impact to land. There appears to be nothing to threaten the U.S. mainland here at the peak of Hurricane Season.
For the record, our (minor) earthquakes continue as well. We had a 3.4 Magnitude tremor centered near Prague, OK just before 9:00 Saturday evening. From high winds and severe storms to wild temperature swings and now earthquakes, Mother Nature has given us quite an interesting weekend!