Big Weekend for the Sun, Moon & Sky

Friday, May 18th 2012, 2:38 pm
By: News On 6

It's a big weekend for a number of reasons! We've got many festivities from Mayfest in Tulsa to the Renaissance Festival in Muskogee with many in between. On top of all that, we have the opportunity to see a rare, partial solar eclipse Sunday before sunset. The question is, will Mother Nature bring clouds and rain at an inopportune time?

It's not all that fair to speak badly of rain when we need it more with each passing warm, sunny day. Tulsa has picked up a measly 0.14" of it since the beginning of the month. There's no official drought in eastern Oklahoma, but another week or two of dry, warm conditions will likely bring back the issues we hoped to leave in 2011.

Our hope of rain lies with a weak storm system moving into the Plains over the weekend. Any thunderstorms associated with it should stay west of the area until Sunday. As the upper-level energy becomes further separated from a trailing cold front, we'll have only a marginal chance of rain and thunderstorm, which could linger into Monday. The severe threat is very low, but a few storms with larger hail and gusty winds remain possible, primarily Sunday afternoon. If you have outdoor plans on Sunday, just keep an eye to the sky. The day won't be a wash-out and the wind speeds and temperatures will actually be lower!

As nice as Sunday could turn out, cloud cover may pose a significant issue with viewing the partial solar eclipse in Green Country. The sun will be at a very low angle in the western horizon when the eclipse occurs and will reach its maximum after the sun sets. However, if (and I stress the if) the expected clouds give way to a clear western sky, we could see 2/3 or more of the sun behind the moon. The full extent of this annular solar eclipse will be seen further west from western Texas, arcing its way up to the northern California coastline. The map above shows the path of this solar eclipse. It will be quite a spectacle further west as the moon leaves all but a fiery ring of the sun out of view. The moon will be near its apogee, a fancy term for the furthest distance in its orbit from the earth. That is why the moon won't totally cover the sun as it does when it's closer. Either way, it will be a great sight and worth finding a cloud-free location! Our next chance to see a solar eclipse won't be until 2017!

Beyond the weekend, another warm, dry week lies ahead. There is the potential for a stronger storm system to bring thunderstorms late in the week, but the infamous "cap" or warm air aloft may prevent them from forming. We certainly seem to have jumped to a more summer-like pattern, which is why the rounds of severe weather we expect for May just hasn't been happening. We want the rain, but there won't be many complaints if the severe weather continues to hold off.

Have a great weekend! Be sure to follow me on Twitter: @GroganontheGO and "like" me on Facebook! I'll have the latest on the storms and eclipse viewing there!