Our punishing drought and heat, combined with prime fire weather conditions, led to a weekend of devastating wildfires across the state. While the worst appears to be over, we can't let our guard down yet. Even with rain possibilities through early Thursday, the prevailing dry, hot weather is still going to pose problems in the weeks to come.
Today comes with a minor severe weather threat. Storms that form in a very hot environment are sometimes susceptible to producing strong downburst winds as they collapse due to weak upper-level support. Torrential rains are likely, but the slow-moving nature of the storms means they won't cover all that much ground. We may see Green Country greening up in patches after the past several days. It might chip away at the drought temporarily, but won't be a widespread relief to the critical fire issues we're dealing with these days.
Here's the good news: the ridge of high pressure that brought our temperatures to record and mind-melting levels is now centered over the desert southwest and will be parked out there for awhile. We find ourselves in a slightly more active storm track with periodic chances of rain and storms – at the very least, slightly cooler weather. This outlook is good after the hottest July on record for the contiguous 48 states. As shown above from the NOAA Climate Services, this heat was centered over Oklahoma, which gave us our "flash drought." Coming off of that month, temperatures can still be extreme until a long-soaking rainfall comes to the entire region. However, with the change in the upper-level wind pattern with high pressure well to our east, we are still in better shape. In fact, by Friday, we'll be in the wake of a cold front with near or below-normal temperatures. (gasp!) Enjoy the cool-down, however brief it may be!