After a week away, I returned to an increasingly dry, brown landscape in Oklahoma. This is no surprise after a 9-day streak of triple-digit heat and very little rain to speak of. Fortunately, we're in a window of opportunity for some rain.
Today's rain chances will also be accompanied by a severe weather threat. Any storms that form into the early evening hours could produce strong, downburst winds in excess of 70 mph. The variety of storms we're seeing are pulse storms, meaning they form, grow rapidly, and then collapse on themselves in the presence of very weak winds aloft. That means the severity of any storm will be short-lived and localized. Still, it'll be a big deal if you're caught underneath a collapsing storm cell where those downburst winds could be very damaging.
Only about 50% of the area will see that rain. The rest of us will be left high and dry (literally) for quite some time it appears. The area of rain will shift south and the chance of any additional rainfall will be confined to southern Oklahoma Friday. After this brief respite with clouds, some much-needed rain in spots, and *slightly* cooler temperatures, our focus will return to the overwhelming issue of the drought.
The latest Drought Monitor came out today and it shows a dramatic worsening of the drought in our state. We had a 34% jump in the area of extreme drought, which now includes portions of Tulsa County. We also are witnessing the return of the worst drought category, exceptional drought, in northwestern Oklahoma. We haven't seen that category of drought in Oklahoma since the beginning of the year. Check out the map above to see the state's drought situation. While it still isn't as bad as it was a year ago, we are quickly catching up to that dire state.
The dominating "Death Ridge" builds overhead again this weekend, allowing those temperatures to soar well above 100º. (On a sidenote, Tulsa had a Record Warm Low of 84 º this morning.) In places that see rain today, those readings may be a few degrees lower until it dries out. Either way, this intense heat will exacerbate the drought with only hints of rain later next week.