Thursday, May 25, 2017

Updated 05/25/17

First let me clear the air.  Several guys have mentioned lately that this free blog isn't being updated that often - and are complaining.

REMEMBER...these posts on this blog are on my own "free" time!  Free time that seems to be diminishing.  My goal is to update often, but dang there is just so much going on!  Anyway, it is what it is. I'll do what I can.

Back to the weather.  As many of you may have remembered, either from posts in this blog or from meetings I've presented at, my thoughts on the growing season and summer were as follows:

In January I was leaning towards an outlook that the warm periods during the growing season would be longer and more intense than they were during 2016.  I was also was leaning towards a drier than normal period (on average for most areas).  However, back on January 25 my confidence of the dryer forecast was decreasing.  The huge storm of rain and ice in mid-January was a sign of changes.  I just wasn't ready to jump on it whole hog.  

Then we got into a LONG dry spell.  In fact at Dodge City we had a 71 day stretch going well into March of only 0.15" of precipitation!  The wind events....the huge wild fire...the blowing dirt!  That had me leaning back strongly towards the drier side as it was fitting the original pattern that established during the fall months.  Also, there just wasn't that much cold air (except for a brief period in December).  Then take into account the following chart of annual precipitation at Dodge City since 1875:

Click for a larger version
In the period of 141 years of record keeping, there has NEVER been 4 years in a row of above normal precipitation at Dodge City!  For 2014, 2015 and 2016 the annual precipitation was above.  So, the odds based strictly on record keeping would support below normal precipitation.  So, for quite a while I felt confident in the original thoughts I had back in January.

But then, WOW!  Mid and late March the upper pattern started resembling the period that brought the huge ice storm, and it hasn't let up since!  Pacific Ocean temperatures along the equator started warming up unexpectedly and the gulf of Mexico remained relatively warm.  Also the energy output from the sun has crashed to low levels!  

At Dodge City (and many areas of southwest Kansas), this has been the wettest start on record (January 1 through May 24)!  Here are the top wettest starts on record:

Of the top 14 wettest starts, all those years ended up above normal for the year except 1978, 1990 and 1999 (at Dodge City).

Of the top six years and cluster of them were very wet for the year.

click for a larger chart

In fact, 1944 ended up as the wettest year on record at Dodge City!

But, not all areas the plains have been as extremely wet.  For instance, there is a stretch around Garden that has been wetter than average, but no where as wet as closer to Dodge City.  Here is the amount and departure from normal for the past 30 days:

 Precipitation amounts (April 26-May 25) - click for larger map
 Departure from normal (April 26-May25)

 My gosh!  There are areas of the high plains that have had more than 6 times the normal precipitation for this 30 day stretch (>600 percent of normal)!

Now does this mean this wettness will continue?  Absolutely not!  The faucet could shut off at any time.  But, it's been my experience, and I've talked about it in this blog many times, that once it gets wet and green during the spring across the central plains, there can be a feedback into the atmosphere.  Initially we'll see that with lower daytime temperatures.  I'm going to be optimistic and go with overall above normal precipitation (some areas will be lower) into mid/late summer.  But, I still think there will be dry periods and during those dry periods there should be pretty hot temperatures, just not that long of periods. 

I hopefully can fine-tune this outlook as I get some time.

Btw, the Weather Prediction Center has the following outlook through next Wednesday:

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Updated 5/10/17

I'll keep this short. In the previous post on Saturday the 6th (you can read it by clicking here) I discussed the storm that is currently upon us.  It's evolution has been almost identical to the ice storm that impacted the high plains on or around the 15th of January.  But, obviously this is May and that January system was during the dead of winter.  The upper level is identical (how it developed, how it has moved, and how it WILL move and weaken) , the impacts will not be.  Here is the latest satellite image as of this Wednesday afternoon:

A close up shows how the air aloft is diffluent and diverging:

The impacts so far for the high plains have been several rounds of at least scattered thunderstorms.  More storms are expected into tonight and isolated to scattered showers as the storm departs and weakens on Thursday.  Here is the expected precipitation amounts, on average through Sunday:

Some will get more, some will get less.

Beyond this system, the atmosphere will become very spring-like.  Each day next week should have a risk of thunderstorms (and some will likely be severe).  This far out, it is impossible to pinpoint just where in the plains.  As we get to that point, I'll try and post an update.  Also next week I'll try and give an outlook going through the remainder of the spring and into the summer.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Update 5/6/17

Well, I wanted to post about the massive amount of rain and snow that fell last week but for the 2nd time I've lost the graphics I was working on.  Ugh.  That will have to come in the next post.  Obviously the storm last weekend was very significant.  Many have said that it's never happened that late before but many have short memories.  One of the latest spring significant snows that have occurred in western Kansas was May 21, 1931.  Another major storm on Mothers Day in (1913?) caused extensive tree and crop damage.  May 2 and 3 of 1978 and again in 1979 there was big snow.  Just 4 years ago on May 2nd there was significant accumulations of snow!  Anyway, the impacts from this latest storm (in the area of the snow) may have been more significant because of the advanced (ahead of normal) vegetative growth.   I hope to do a graphic in the next post when I get a chance next week.  I guess there are all types of issues - plant damage due to the weight of the snow - the freeze - too much water....wait too much after we went through a 2 month period of almost no moisture?  At the Dodge City airport there was a 60 day stretch of only 0.01" (mid Jan - mid Mar) and now it's the wettest start to the year (Jan 1 to May 6) on record!

Currently we're in a transition period with a huge upper ridge across the middle of the county.  The same that "could" bring a brief period of extreme heat this summer.  More on that in later posts...

Another deep weather system will approach the high plains next week.  There are still a lot of uncertainties on the strength and especially the position as it arrives.  I'm not on a computer that I can add my own graphics in this post.  But, this next storm fits perfectly in the cycle of the weather pattern.  This next storm fits the pattern of the mid-January storm.   What this means is that widespread precipitation is expected and amounts will likely be significant.  Here is the latest thinking from the Weather Prediction Center for precip through next Friday (amounts and location will likely change by this time next week):

I hope to have a chance to post later next week to discuss the outlook going into summer.  One thing that I've read and agree with is that the transition month going from spring into summer (May) can be abnormal during the time an El Nino develops.  More on that later...I'll shoot for Wednesday so check back then.