Sunday, March 25, 2018

***addition to yesterdays post*** 3/25/18

In the post I did yesterday (read it by clicking here) I forgot to mention the temperature outlook.  I've been hearing a few grumblings (by those that don't know any better) that we've seen our last hard freeze for the high plains. Ugh, please don't listen to this gibberish!  

The pattern supports below normal temperatures going through at least the first 10 days of April.  I wouldn't be surprised to have much below normal readings, especially right after Easter.  It also wouldn't surprise me to see more snow across the high plains in April.  In fact, I'll say likely.  Remember last April 30? 

Don't get in a hurry...

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Update 3/24/18

One significant event!  Was that enough to break the nasty weather pattern we've been in across the high plains?  Unfortunately, no.  As I've mentioned since the fall, there would be fewer opportunities for significant precipitation for the fall, winter and going into spring.  Miss the majority of the opportunities and the outlook was going to be dismal.  Is there still a chance for a "turn-around"?  Yes, but the chance is small - not impossible - just a small chance so I guess there is always hope.

The storm that impacted much of the central U.S. late last Sunday and into Monday was very significant for much of the area, but then on the western edge it was more of the same with little to nothing. Here is a map of precipitation during the past 7 days ending this morning, the 24th of March:

Looking at the satellite image from this morning, there was a vigorous storm over the eastern Pacific.  But it may not be phased with the jet stream farther south across the Pacific that was streaming into the central Rockies.  There was still that sub-tropical jet that has been showing up (lower part of the image).  That could still prove interesting later this spring (probably more hope than anything).

The same old pattern we've been in since the fall will likely continue to dominate through the end of the week.  The Pacific storm will likely progress in pieces associated with the trough aloft through mid-week and may help to produce at least a little bit of precipitation across the high plains.  Farther east, it looks like more significant rains.  Here is the map from the Weather Prediction Center through the end of the week:

I originally thought there could be a system around Easter weekend and still do see a small chance in about a week.  But, again, given the pattern it may be another system too far north and fast to benefit much of the high plains.  Having stated that though, the longer we go into spring the more readily available the boundary layer moisture will be.  That "could" help chances - I'm just not that optimistic, yet.

Ive shown the following stats at several presentations lately:

       October 1, 2017 through March 17, 2018

Before last weekends weather system, the amount of precipitation since October 1, 2017 through March 17 was extremely low.  For Dodge City, that total of 0.53" was only 10 percent of normal for that entire 167 day period and was the 2nd driest on record for the same date! 

Other years for the same period ...

I've posted before about those dry periods being followed up with good moisture for at least Dodge City (and likely similar for other locations) but not until later in the spring.

The problem I see with those years is that March and April were continued dry. 

I'll try and update by the end of the week.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Update 3/16/18

I've discussed in posts for quite a while that the opportunities for precipitation would be fewer this winter and farther in between.  The latest opportunity moved through yesterday and today (Friday).  There was finally a bit of precipitation across western Kansas with the largest amount I saw at 0.24" northwest of Lakin in Kearny County.  That is the first measurable precipitation in some time.  However, most of the high plains got nothing more than spits of precipitation (some snow today across NW Kansas) and howling wind!  The system responsible for the wind and scattered precip was lifting away. 

Now attention shifts to the next opportunity that will arrive late Sunday into Monday. 

The next system is denoted by the red X on the satellite image will arrive late this weekend...

Will this system go too far north just like the rest have been doing leaving southwest Kansas and points south high and dry?  Well, there is actually reason to believe it will be farther south and I look no further than the North Atlantic Oscillation.  The index has been strongly negative and this helped to produce a high latitude block near Greenland.  The block is slowly retrograding west.  At the same (see below) time the Arctic Oscillation has also been strongly negative.  Usually that forces storm tracks farther south.  Will it happen this time?  It's going to be a close call again.  I feel confident that points north and east of a Syracuse-Scott City-Ness City-Larned-Medicine Lodge line will get at least 3/4 of an inch of rain.  I won't be surprised if a few spots get close to 2 inches, most likely across north central or central Kansas.

For the rest of the area south of that line in Kansas, it's too soon to call.  The storm will have to move well south of it's projected path.  Possible, but not too likely.  On south into west Texas - it looks like a lot of wind again with not much chance of rain.

Here is the latest projected outlook from the Weather Prediction Center through next Friday the 23rd.

I'm in the busiest time for my NWS job so I might not get a chance to update for another week to 10 days, but I'll try.  I'm doing a presentation at the 3i Show in Dodge City at 2 PM Thursday and will discuss the climate/weather pattern we've been in this past 18 months.  If you're around, stop by for the discussion.

FWIW, here are the AO and NAO charts I referenced above.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Update 3/6/18

The frustrating weather pattern continues and I'm not seeing a lot of promising signs to a major change.  More on the pattern below....

I know a lot of you that read this blog are producers...producers of grain or producers of livestock (or both).  I gave a weather/drought presentation yesterday (Monday the 5th) at a grazing lands drought meeting.  Unfortunately I had to leave before the meeting was over as I had another evening presentation to travel to.  There was some very useful information shared by others while I was there.  There was one presentation in particular that discussed cattle grazing on grass before, during and after a drought. The information he provided was excellent and very eye opening for me.  I don't recall all the details, but I plan on getting that information and doing some research on precipitation.  I believe that I can provide a risk factor for this spring/summer in holding on to numbers in herds (risk of having to buy expensive feed/hay, overgrazing, damaging the pasture, culling too late when the market gets supersaturated with numbers, etc.).   So, hopefully more on that later.

Back to the weather.  Unfortunately for the high plains it's more of the same.  Weather systems are too far north and somewhat too fast.  Some of the tele-connection indices have been very favorable for impactful storms.  Just not here.

The AO is favorable for Arctic air - but this time it's across the other side of the hemisphere (Europe and Asia)...

The NAO is deeply negative and has helped to produce some blocking across the higher latitudes but it is impacting the eastern U.S., and not the here.

The east coast has been pounded this past week  Yesterday and today a major blizzard was/is moving from the Dakotas, northeast Nebraska/Iowa and on east.  For the high plains we're on the dry and windy side...and VERY windy!  Despite relatively cool temperatures, humidity levels have tanked due to very little moisture in the downslope wind.  Wildfire potential is in the catastrophic range!

Here is this mornings satellite image of the major storm across parts of the midwest...

Out west, the eastern Pacific remains pretty active with a lot of flow but it's "split up" and may not bring much benefit to the plains.

So, back in the fall and periodically this winter, I've mentioned that our opportunities for significant precipitation would be fewer this year - and those opportunities would be spaced at a longer time period.  Each time those opportunities (weather systems) misses the plains....well I think you know the outcome.

For this month, there will still be some more opportunities, but again only a few.  This dry stretch since October 7th ties for the longest stretch on record at Dodge City (and many areas across the plains) for the same time period (October 7 through March 5).

It's interesting that in those other dry years, there was actually good moisture later on.  In 1880, May, July and August were all wet.  In 1876, it was a very wet March!  In 1989 it was a wet May through Summer.  Does that mean it will occur again?  Not likely.  But I do know that in 1989 our hemisphere was experiencing a weak La Nina - similar to the current one.  However, I'm not sure what phase the PDO and AMO were in and that would likely mean a different weather regime.  I'll have to check on that when I get time.

So for now - more of the same I'm afraid.  Here is the outlook from the Weather Prediction Center through March 13...

The light green color on the map is for amounts around 0.01" to tenth of an inch - i.e., not much if any.

Also, the latest outlook for the summer is in from the Climate Prediction Center with the odds shifted towards favoring hotter than normal and dryer than normal for June-July-August.  I can't argue against it (odds tilted towards dryer and hotter).  But, keeping in mind that there is still that tiny glimmer of hope - that so far has not panned out.  Stay the course I guess.

I'll try to update again late this weekend.

BTW - that "gut" feeling back in October about a March 5th blizzard?  I missed it by a couple of hundred miles LOL.

Friday, March 2, 2018


I don't have time to update until Monday or Tuesday of next week - so check back then.  For now the fire concern across the high plains for this Friday through next Tuesday (at least) is going to be exceptional and times (especially Sunday and Monday).  This is NOT good...

Again, check back Monday or Tuesday for an update.