Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Update 4/25/17

In the post I did on Saturday the 22nd (you can read it by clicking here) I discussed the frost or freeze that was impending on the high plains.  I don't know how much wheat was damaged as there were low lying areas that got into the mid/upper 20s on Sunday morning (23rd).  Many areas saw 30 to 34 degrees.   I also mentioned another cold shot slated between April 29 and May 3.  At this point, it looks like freezing temperatures for the high plains are likely, especially for the 30th and 1st.   Believe it or not even snow will be possible at the end of the weekend storm!  That is certainly not unheard of, but given the lack of snow this winter (except earlier this month across far southwest KS and the panhandles).

This afternoon satellite image showed a storm system (the red X) moving towards the high plains:

Boundary layer moisture was just enough that a cold rain (and some thunder) will be likely north of the front that went through Monday night.  The most likely area for 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of rain will be across southeast Colorado, far southwest Kansas and the panhandles of OK/TX and into northwest OK.  The severe stuff will be far east of the high plains (southeast KS, NE OK and east).

Another system should arrive Thursday bringing additional chances for precipitation.  Then things get interesting.  IF the computer models are correct (and I think they will be to an extent), there should be a deeper and slower moving storm between Friday and Sunday.  There "should" be a prolonged period of precipitation across the high plains of KS/CO and south with snow the primary type across Colorado and far western Kansas during the weekend.  I would not be surprised to see "heavy" amounts too!  I also wouldn't be surprised to see the white stuff as far east as Dodge City.  However, details are highly uncertain at this time.  As the system moves away, minimum temperatures by Monday may be well into the 20s across eastern Colorado and far western KS.

Keep in mind this scenario is still a little iffy (due to the system has not developed and we're still 3 to 5 days out).

Here is the Weather Prediction Center's outlook for precipitation through next Monday.

I won't be able to update this blog until next week due to other obligations.  Stay tuned to local forecasts using weather.gov/

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Update 04/22/17

Time has slipped away with a busy work schedule.  Since I do this blog on my "own" time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with.

First, in the last post I did on the 12th (you can read it by clicking here), I had mentioned a chilly period between April 23-25.  That time is here and indeed there is some chilly air.  There will likely be frost and a light freeze across the high plains late Saturday night and Sunday morning (23rd).  Then a quick warmup will ensue during the first part of the week.  I had also mentioned another possible period when there "could" be a freeze (with a low probability) for the 29th-May 3.  That is still on track for the high plains. The corn belt will likely see freezing temperatures.   Another "cold" period for the high plains will be during the second week of May but most likely NOT freezing, just below normal temps.

During this past 10 days there have been several weather systems that brought substantial rains to the high plains, but there were also areas that have missed out on much of the rain.  Here is a map of precipitation ending yesterday (Friday) morning and DOES NOT include what fell during the day Friday:

Looking at the satellite image from early this morning,

the system that brought the rains to Kansas had shifted into the Mississippi Valley and was moving away.  High pressure will bring the chance for that frost/freeze this Saturday night.  The red L on the left hand side of the satellite map was a strong storm that will weaken as it moves into the northern Rockies.  The flow aloft will increase and become more westerly which will promote windy and warm weather by Monday and Tuesday.  Any chance for additional thunderstorms this next week will be dependent on how quickly gulf moisture can return into the high plains.  There is some chance that the high plains will be on the "cold" side of additional systems this next week so that the severe weather threat will be farther east.  It looks like at least some precipitation will be possible across western Kansas but I'm not confident at this point since a lot of development has to take place.  Here is the outlook from the Weather Prediction Center through the end of this next week.

Looking further ahead, I still don't have a really good feel for the spring/summer outlook.  I'm leaning slightly on the favorable side for the high plains (NOT west Texas) as far as periodic precipitation and not quite as hot as I thought it could be.  I'll try and nail that down soon.  As far as the corn belt, I still feel that there will NOT be a drought and precipitation should be favorable during the growing season.

Here is the current drought monitor map:

And here is the outlook through July 31 from the Climate Prediction Center:

Wow, that is being optimistic (except the southeast U.S.)!  I'm not saying that it is wrong at this point, but wow!

I'll do my best to update on Wednesday.  If I can't get it done on Wednesday, the next post won't be until May 1.  If only I was retired....

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Update - 04/12/17

Just a short update....

Since the last post on the 7th (as usual, you can read that by clicking (here), the weather systems have moved north bringing at least a temporary dry period.  Also, there was a light freeze Monday and Tuesday across parts of Kansas.

First off, the significant freeze that I had pointed out to be possible between the 12th and 19th.  THAT is not materializing!  There still could be some chilly air around the April 23-25 period but I don't see clear signs at this point.  The only other possible period is getting rather late, and that would be between April 29 and May 3.   That last one would be a detriment for sure. But at this point, I would put the probabilities of that at less than 15 percent of a significant killing freeze.

In the previous post on the 7th, I discussed a weather system that was looking pretty good at bringing some more moisture (I mentioned between late Tuesday and Thursday).  So far, that is pretty much on track.  There will be at least scattered thunderstorms across Kansas this late Wednesday but more widespread across west Texas (they need it).  A weak system should bring another round tomorrow (Thursday) as boundary layer moisture increases.  Not everyone will get rain, but many will.  Isolated spots that see repeated thunderstorms may get quite a bit.

Here is the latest satellite showing the system:

Another possibility for showers and thunderstorms will occur late in the weekend and then several times during next week.  But, I'm not sure just how far west and south the activity will be.  It might concentrate on areas farther north and east.

Here is the Weather Prediction Centers outlook through next Tuesday:
Although I haven't given it much detailed thought yet, I'm getting a pretty good hunch that there won't be much of a drought across the corn belt this growing season.  I'm seeing some subtle signs that it might turn out favorably (as far as moisture).   For the high plains, I need a few more weeks to analyze the pattern and to see if and how these next few systems behave.

I'll try and update early next week.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Update 04/07/17

WOW!  Are you kidding?  Except for the ice storm in January, this past week and a half was one of the wettest and widespread periods that we've seen in a long while.  Although there wasn't anything since the ice storm in mid January (over 2 months!), the amount accumulated at the Dodge City airport since January 1st is the 2nd wettest start to a year since records have been kept (since 1875)!  The wettest was in 1973.  You might wonder, how did 1973 end up?  DRY in May and June!  But then wet from July into the fall.   Could that repeat this year?  Yes for different reasons, or maybe not even close.  I'll explain at the end of this post.

The latest satellite image this Friday evening.

The most pronounced feature is the HUGE ridge right across the high plains.  This is one feature I'm afraid may repeat later this spring and summer.  If it reoccurs in this exact location we might be looking at stretches of very hot and dry weather this summer.  BUT maybe not....again, I'll explain at the end of the post.

So, this wet period we just finished.  On March 17, I posted about several opportunities for systems towards the end of March.  BUT, I also thought the trend of systems moving too far north to benefit the high plains would continue, much like they had been doing.  Maybe it was all the prayers after the devastating fires but weather systems ended up being much more energetic and far enough south to bring the rains (and heavy snow with the last system across parts of the Panhandles and far southwest Kansas).  It couldn't have been more perfect!  Look at how much moisture fell during this two week stretch!

But now the question is, will this wet stretch continue?  If the pattern that we've been in since the fall and winter re-appears, then the gravy train may have ended.  But, since the fall it looks like several of the forcing areas across the Pacific (and even Arctic) have changed, and maybe to our benefit.   The current ridge is a little concerning since it has been a mainstay for much of the fall and winter.  Will that dominate?  Or, has there been enough changes to allow weather systems to tap into increasing amounts of gulf moisture?  I think the next 2 to 3 weeks should tell the story.

First there is another storm that should arrive about mid-week (late Tuesday into Thursday).  It will be different that what we had recently.  IF the gulf moisture can return in time, there very well could be another round of showers and thunderstorms.  Don't count on it, but it's actually looking pretty good right now for the eastern parts of the high plains (the farther east, the more likely it'll happen).  Here is the outlook from the Weather Prediction Center through next Friday.

Also, I had pointed out in the last blog that a cold spell (enough to bring a significant freeze) could occur between the 12th and 19th.  There are "some" signs of this at the moment but I'm not ready to jump on it.  If we do get a round of precip mid-week and get the colder air to settle back into the area, then there should be yet another opportunity or two for more precipitation going into late April.

Also, it's been my experience that a very wet late March and into April across the plains "can" start a cycle of feedback where it's easier for the atmosphere to produce additional moisture.  But, keep in mind 1973 when it turned dry in May and June.  I need to see how this next 2 to 3 weeks behaves before I'm ready to call that one. 

The point is that this very unexpected wet period may be a sign of changes.  But I'm not sold on that just yet. Again, I need 2 to 3 weeks of monitoring.

BTW, the latest US Drought monitor shows the improvement of the drought conditions.  I'm not sure if the calculations used this past weekends data. 

I'll try and update again around Wednesday.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Update - 04/03/17

In the post I did on the 26th (you can read it by clicking here), I discussed the multiple weather systems that were lined up that would hopefully benefit the high plains with greatly needed precipitation.   I even mentioned that some areas would get "too" much rain which is hard to believe.  Most of the area got a good soaking from the several systems that moved through  this past week.
Here is a map of the approximate amount of rainfall that was observed ending Sunday morning:

It's incredible that this much fell given that the moisture from the Gulf Of Mexico was NOT at a premium but something called the "warm conveyor belt" was set up just right that deeper moisture across the south central plains was lifted above the colder boundary layer across the central plains.  I shook my head in amazement when I heard several producers seriously ask when it was going to quit raining.  WOW!  Well, they may soon get their wish!

The last in a series of these storm systems will move through this Monday night and through Tuesday.  Then, that may be it for a while. Here is the Monday morning satellite image showing this next system.

The storm that brought the Friday/Saturday precipitation was moving slowly past Kansas City this morning.  It has "wiped out" good moisture for the next system (denoted by the red X).  But this next system will energetic enough and the atmosphere set up just right that a relatively narrow band of significant rain/snow will occur as it moves out into the plains, despite the lower amount of available boundary layer moisture.

Here is the map showing possible amounts suggested by the Weather Prediction Center:

There are other systems out across the Pacific but now the pattern appears to be shifting back to the north, at least for a while.  Beyond this early weeks storm (ending Tuesday night), for the high plains I don't see much chance for appreciable amounts of rain through at least April 10 (likely much longer). Farther east there will still be opportunities though.

The biggest concern I would have going forward will be the chance of a significant freeze somewhere between the 12th and 19th of the month.  Before, and especially after, temperatures will be rebounding.  In fact the last 10 days of April could be shaping up to be very warm.

I wouldn't be surprised that in about 3 weeks we're going to be asking "when is it going to rain again?".   In other words, don't count on this recent wet spell as being the norm going into spring. I'll give more insight on prospects for the growing season in a week or two.  I'm still not completely sold on dry, average, or wet.   I am still expecting a pretty active period from late April into early May and then especially around the end of May (typical for Memorial day weekend).  But how far west is the question?  But beyond that, it could go right into summer.  Again, more later.