Sunday, March 26, 2017

Update 3/26/17

Multiple weather systems are lined up to hopefully benefit much of the high plains and central part of the country during the next week to 10 days.   The first system that moved through Friday finally had enough surface moisture from the Gulf Of Mexico ahead of it to produce scattered thunderstorms.  Some areas benefited greatly from rainfall, while others got nothing or very little.  Here is the map of the approximate amount of precipitation:
The next system is right on schedule and will move through the area this afternoon (Sunday) and into early Monday.  Moisture at the surface from the Gulf Of Mexico is getting here just tad late.  Otherwise, this would be a huge thunderstorm and rain  maker.  As it stands, much of Oklahoma and the eastern half of Kansas will benefit the most.  But those that miss it from this one, will likely get it from the next two storms.

On the satellite image, you can see where this Sunday's storm was located (and it was rather energetic).

Looking to the west, there are quite a few storms lined up across the Pacific and those will be tracking this way!

Surface (or boundary layer moisture from the Gulf) will not be lacking for these following systems.  The only areas that "might" miss out from getting a whole lot will be extreme far west Texas. But the majority of the high plains and areas southeast and east should get widespread beneficial rainfall.  In fact, it's not out of the question that some locations will get TOO much rain!  That is hard to believe but it's a possibility!  Here is the potential through next weekend (provided by the Weather Prediction Center).   Not all areas will get that much, but it's looking pretty favorable at this point for widespread 1 to 3 inches during this next 7 day period.

It is interesting that where these large amounts are predicted, it lines up very closely to where the drought is on-going.

I'll try and post again by Wednesday or Thursday.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Update - 03/23/17

I'm finding it difficult to get this blog updated in a timely manner.  Remember, this is on my own time and my "own free time" is thin right now.  But anyway....

In the previous post I did six days ago on the 17th (you can read it by clicking here) I discussed the trend of storms that had been moving too far north to benefit the high plains with any precipitation. I discussed that a weather system would move through on the 23rd-24th and that it would be very energetic and at this point that is spot on!  BUT, I also said it looked like it would be too far north again.  Well, maybe not for some of us.  It's also slower so that has allowed gulf moisture to return which might help with one round of scattered precipitation before the main system arrives.

Here is the latest satellite image showing that system.

The red X over northwest Arizona is the upper part of the storm.  It should be moving across Kansas on Friday.  Before that arrives, a dryline may ignite with thunderstorms this Thursday evening and move east before weakening after midnight.  Some areas of southwest Kansas and the OK/TX panhandle will get a 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch of quick rain.  BUT, unfortunately, there will be areas that get missed!

The surface part of the approaching storm will move across Kansas on Friday and will be a wind maker, especially behind it.  Precipitation will be widely scattered but not everyone will get any, unfortunately.  The exception will be eastern Colorado and northwest Kansas where a good amount (over an inch) will fall, and some will be snow too! 

In the previous blog post I also said there were "hints" of additional opportunities for more systems into early April. Indeed there are and those show up in the western view on the satellite image.

The opportunities will occur late in the weekend and then again once or twice during next week.  Those tracks will be important and it's really not a slam dunk on precipitation. BUT, it is looking optimistic.

Here is the potential precipitation amounts from today (Thursday) into early Thursday of next week.

I'll shoot for an update late in the weekend.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Update - 03/17/17

In the post I did on the 12th (read it by clicking here), I discussed the weather systems lately that were moving too far north and east to benefit the high plains.  The trend has continued this week. I did see a few opportunities by the end of this weekend or first of the week (not going to happen as it is going to be WAY north) and also again by the end of the month.  There now appears to be another system that will move through late next week (23-24).  It looks like it will be very energetic!  But, it also looks like it will be too far north.  There had been some pretty optimistic posts by the National Weather Service this week about a pattern change for next week. At this point the storm looks to be very similar to what occurred on the 6th.  That being said, I'm concerned about the fire risk again.  I'll try and post again early next week to update on that prospect.

Beyond the late week system, there continues to be hints of at least several opportunities towards the end of the month and into early April.  But at this point, if these "opportunities" don't pan out, the concern will increase for an intensification of the dry weather.  Speaking of which...

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor came out this past week and as you would probably expected, drought conditions have gotten worse across the central U.S.

Also this past week, the drought outlook was released from NOAA/NCEP/NWS/Climate Prediction Center.  Interesting.  Look at the map of improvement of the drought across parts of high plains of Kansas, the Missouri and Mississippi Valley and the lack of development across the Corn Belt.

While I'm not calling this wrong, I have to wonder how they came up with this.  Because the official outlook from the Climate Prediction Center calls for equal chances of below, normal and above.  In other words, in their outlook they say there is not enough evidence to go either way yet they say the drought will improve.  Hmmmm.

I'm not ready to say either way.  I just feel pretty strongly that dry periods this growing season will last longer in between opportunities for rain.  Precipitation could still be timely, even though amounts may end up below normal.  Again, I'm not sold on below, normal or above, at least not just yet.  "Heat waves" will be more intense and last longer, but will also be tempered occasionally by a few cool downs.  I'm feeling pretty confident about that.  But more later on temperatures.

As I've said in a few of the posts this past couple of months, diligent use of water may be critical this growing season (more so than normal).  Remember last year, it was very dry through April and then the water spigot got turned on and lasted into August.  It would be highly unlikely that would repeat this growing season. 

I'll try and post again early next week.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Quick update - 3/12/17

In several posts this past winter I discussed a potential storm around mid-March.  If there was going to be any optimism for an above average precipitation spring then it was hoped that the mid-March period would provide that hope.  It's mid-March and indeed there was already one system (Saturday) and another poised to move through tonight (Sunday night) into Monday.  Bad news....the systems are tracking too far north to bring much to the high plains.

On satellite you can see where the rather vigorous system was located (the red X)...

There will be scattered showers moving southeast tonight (12th) and SOME will receive a little bit of rain (as much as 2/10th) but the majority of the area will get sprinkles or nothing at all!

Here is the outlook from from the Weather Prediction Center through next Sunday...

We're in the period of time that I was hoping we could get a decent weather maker across the high plains.  It's there but it's just too far north. I want to throw in the towel for the rest of the late winter/early spring.  BUT....

I'm usually a pretty optimistic person in general and always looking for that glimmer of hope.  For precipitation, I do see tiny "slivers". The Gulf Of Mexico waters are above normal (the moisture source) and there are some changes across the Pacific that could help bring a couple of opportunities yet this month. The next chance for anything (beyond tonight) will be late next weekend (19th) or early next week (20th-21st) and perhaps again towards the end of March.   That is the optimistic side talking.  Realistically we should expect below normal precipitation into mid-April but hope for the best.

As far as temperatures, we are NO WHERE near the last freeze, despite what a lot of people are discussing!  

I hope to update this blog again around the 16th/17th.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Update 3/6/17

This weather pattern is looking ugly!  On this mornings satellite image...

There was a vigorous upper level low moving out of southeast Wyoming which will bring blizzard conditions to the northern plains as it lifts out towards that region.  The associated surface features will bring severe weather to the far eastern plains and into the Missouri and Mississippi Valleys. Unfortunately for the high plains the system will bring high wind (and perhaps damaging gusts this Monday afternoon), very low humidity and mild/warm daytime temperatures.  This will do nothing but accentuate the fire potential and continue to dry out the top several inches of the soil. With the tremendous amount of "fuel" (grasses), the potential for massive and out-of-control fires is extremely high!

The good news is that moisture from the Gulf Of Mexico remains readily available and will continue that trend into the growing season.  The bad news is that it is not making it back far enough west to benefit the high plains as they weather systems move out of the Rockies.  Also, the bad news is that this readily available GOM moisture has added to the severe weather threats farther east with yet another outbreak expected today and Tuesday!

Back on January 25th in the post I did (you can read it by clicking here), I mentioned that the warmer than normal GOM waters would impact the weather from the fall into the spring.  As of early March, nothing will change in that thought as the season progresses.

Also in that January 25th post I reiterated what I had thought since fall.  That is, that I had a pretty good feeling that going into the growing season and continuing into the summer that warm periods would be longer and more intense than they were in 2016.  I also was leaning towards a drier than normal period.  But, I also had a brief stretch of time where I was finding just a glimmer of hope! Well, that glimmer didn't last long.

In that January 25th post, I was anticipating a mid-March storm based on the cycling nature of the pattern.  Lately on some of the long range computer model forecasts there has been a "hint" of a storm somewhere between the 11th and 16th across the central plains.  I have ZERO confidence in any of those solutions.  But, let's see what transpires during the next week.  If there is indeed a system and it goes across Nebraska or impacts the eastern plains and leaves the high plains high-and-dry, then it might very well get grim for the remainder of the early spring. 

For now, I really think that March will end up well below normal on precipitation and above normal on temperatures.  Based on the cycling nature of the pattern, mid-April into much of May could have closer to normal precipitation and temperatures. We better hope so because as the season transitions into June/July I'm afraid the heat will really start to crank up.  

I'll give it another couple of weeks before I try and get detailed on expected moisture and temperatures for the summer months, but early indications would suggest a diligent plan on water use will be critical for this growing season.