If you think this July is getting off to a little hotter start than usual, you are absolutely correct. In fact, for Tulsa we have temperature records going back to 1905 and the first ten days of July 2011 rank as the third hottest start to the month on record. The only time we were any hotter was 1980 which turned out to be the hottest summer on record and 1990 which turned out to be hotter than normal, but not extraordinarily so. In fact, that July of 1990 saw much cooler temperatures after the tenth of the month.
Unfortunately, we have no such prospects this time around. All indications point to much above normal temperatures throughout the coming week and quite likely into the following week as well. Although we set a record high temperature today, it does not appear likely that we will do so on Monday when the record is 107. One might think that since we were that hot today that we should be tomorrow as well, but there are some subtle differences taking place which should knock a degree or two off those daytime extremes.
One is the temperature profile aloft is supposed to be a degree or two cooler which usually translates into at least a degree or two at the surface as well. Also, a weak disturbance is working its way around the dominant ridge aloft. This is a tropical system moving into Texas from the western Gulf of Mexico. It is quite weak and has not produced much in the way of rain down there, but as it works it way toward Oklahoma, it should provide a few more clouds, particularly as we get into the Tue-Wed time frame. This in turn, should knock a few degrees off the daytime temperature extremes. It may even produce a few scattered showers and storms for the Tue night and Wed time frame, but don't want to get your hopes up too much for that. Right now, it appears that the chances of any one location receiving measurable rainfall will only be in the 20% range.
In fact, if you look at the QPF(Quantitative Precipitation Forecast) map on the right which is valid through Friday morning, you can see that any significant precipitation is pretty much somewhere other than Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. That is not to say that there is no chance of rain, just that any showers or storms that do form will be very isolated at best and provide only brief, very localized relief from the heat and dryness.
The upper level ridge that has built over the state will remain dominant for the foreseeable future. It is allowing the weak tropical system to rotate around it over the next few days, then becomes even more dominant later this week and quite likely into the following week. Thus, this heat wave will in all likelihood be around for quite some time to come.
You may notice that I have also added a slight chance of precipitation for late Saturday. The longer range GFS and ECMWF both are trying to show a little better chance of rain and have been fairly consistent in doing so for the last several runs. So, that at least gives us something to hope for.
In the meantime, stay cool, stay tuned, and check back for updates.