Friday, April 26, 2019

Update - 04/26/19

In the past few posts (read the last one by clicking here) I was having concerns about the dry pattern that had developed across parts of the high plains.  Looking at the precipitation that has occurred this past 7 days.....

You can see that some areas of the southern high plains got good rains and small parts of the northern areas.  But many locations received absolutely nothing during this past week.  Looking even deeper into this dry stretch, for the past 30 days since March 27 reveals this dry area and centered on my house in near Dodge City....

Again, this is a little disturbing to me as this was not totally expected several months ago, even though the active weather pattern continues.  Part of the issue is the track of the systems.  One will take a northern track and the next will take a southern track.  However, the other issue is the quickness of the weather systems keeping the deeper and richer surface moisture across Oklahoma and Texas. 

With the recent rains across west Texas and the Panhandle, the drought monitor continues to show improvement.

As I've mentioned many times throughout this blog, west Texas and the Texas Panhandle is often an area that I look at.   When this area is exceedingly dry during the early spring, this often "feeds" into much of the high plains.  Conversely, when it starts to get wet across this area, there seems to be a feedback of general wetness into the high plains. 

Even though I've had concerns about this current dry stretch (by the way, one of the driest on record for Dodge City), I still am seeing some hope for a return of rains (and believe it or not snow).  So, I still have hope and haven't totally abandoned my earlier thoughts of a wet spring.

The pattern will continue to be active.  On this afternoons satellite image, there are several strong weather systems lined up across the Pacific that will impact the central U.S. during the next week to 10 days.

One system (the red X north of Idaho) will bring another front late Saturday.  But, it appears most of the precip with that will be north of Kansas - but will bring snow to the western and central Corn Belt.  As a stronger systems approaches for the first of the week, there should be an area of precipitation break out ahead of it by Sunday night.  Details and timing should be covered by National Weather Service forecasts (

Additional weather systems will impact the central U.S. during the remainder of the week.  Will there be decent rain across that dry area of Kansas?  For the most of it, yes.  But maybe not everyone, at least yet (more and more systems for May).

Here is the latest outlook from the Weather Prediction Center through the end of week.

As far as that "S" word I mentioned?  In the previous blogs I discussed the period April 29-May 2 that would see below normal temperatures and a late season freeze.  That still appears to be on the table.  Plus, there could be a decent storm to go along with it so that snow might fall from eastern Colorado and far western Kansas (near the Colorado border), northeast into Nebraska.  Confidence is not high, but it does appear to be a possibility.  

I'll try and update again later next week to fine tune that thought.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Update - 04/19/19

With a busy work and home life schedule, it's been difficult getting anything posted to this blog. 

In the previous posting on the 8th (if you haven't read it already, please read it be clicking here), I discussed the difficulties in forecasting weather during the transition from the cold months into the warm months, especially across the high plains.  I ended with this statement -

"In my mind I keep waffling between a dry pattern potentially developing back to "stay the course".  For now, I'm staying the course and will still expect  opportunities for precipitation that should keep general wetness going well into May, and perhaps through much of June."

During this past 10 days, I haven't changed my thinking but each day I'm seeing a disturbing trend of precipitation events "missing" the high plains of western Kansas (and even into central Kansas).  This is somewhat confusing as the pattern, overall, continues to be active.   Can this continue?  Sure it can, but the question is "will it"?

During the past 7 days there was one good event but missed the areas that are progressively getting drier.


At the Dodge City at the airport, by Saturday evening it will have been the driest start to April since 1909!  Looking at the potential for precipitation, there is a trend in the upper pattern that this next system may miss this local area to the south - again!  This mornings upper air chart....


There was a small closed low  just off the southern California coast.  At the same time there was a stronger upper system entering the Pacific Northwest.  The low near California was and will continue to weaken as it moves into the southwest U.S..  The system across the Pacific Northwest will dive southeast and merge with the decaying southwest low.  The eventual track though after this transition will determine, to a large extent, the eventual precipitation opportunity for the central U.S..  For the past few days it appeared that it would get wet across western Kansas but the trend has been farther south and east.  Here is the current Weather Prediction Center outlook - BUT THIS WILL LIKELY CHANGE!

If this upcoming scenario (from Sunday into mid-week) fails to produce much precipitation for western Kansas (which as of Friday afternoon that is what I'm expecting) then there may not be much hope through the remainder of the month!  That said, April may end up as one of the driest on record at Dodge City.  Hard to believe!

Then the six million dollar question - will that dry pattern continue for the majority of the area?  I'm still going to hold on to the notion that, overall, the spring and at least early summer will be wetter than normal.  In fact, the Climate Prediction Center is leaning that direction too (I can't argue at this point).  Here is their outlook...



Those maps above from the Climate Prediction Center show a probability shift to cooler and wetter than average for the three month period of May, June, and July. 

One final note, there is a SMALL indication that a late month freeze or frost may occur, from around April 29-May 2 across parts of the high plains.  Confidence is not great, but it would fit the pattern.  More on that later.

I'll try and update again late next week when I find bit of free time.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Update 04/08/19

In the previous post on the 2nd (click here to read that post) I mentioned the return to cold expected around the 9th/10th. That change is expected, but only slightly later by a day.  A very impactful weather system was currently moving towards the west coast as of this Monday morning.  On the satellite image (the red L)....

The eventual track across the plains late Wednesday and Thursday is very much uncertain, as most systems are 3-4 days in advance.  It's best to keep track of the details by visiting as this system will produce extreme weather (from fire weather  to a major blizzard).   I won't lay out details in this blog post since the track is uncertain - but I'm 100 percent confident that this will be news worthy by the time it's said and done. 

Temperatures ahead of the storm for early this week will be warming quite a bit which should help soil temperatures.  Via the Kansas State Mesonet, soil temperatures at 4 inches had warmed this past week and will jump a bit more before the aforementioned storm moves across.  Here were those temperatures as of 8 AM this Monday morning...

But there will be a drop again, or at least this warming will come to a standstill.  Behind this weeks  storm, cold air will drop in place.  As mentioned in the previous post, temperatures after Wednesday will be below normal going into the third week of the month. 

Spring (and Fall) weather is very difficult to forecast as the battle between airmasses ensues.  The high plains is heavily influenced by dry intrusions sweeping off the higher terrain.  It's easy for me to be swayed by short term (1 to 2 week) patterns.  In my mind I keep waffling between a dry pattern potentially developing back to "stay the course".  For now, I'm staying the course and will still expect  opportunities for precipitation that should keep general wetness going well into May, and perhaps through much of June.  Through June 30, the official government outlook is for no drought conditions to be developing anywhere across the central plains and midwest.

I'll try and update by the end of the week - but this is a very busy time for me doing presentations.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Update - 04/02/19

If you missed the previous post, you can read it by clicking here.  As expected this past week to 10 days the weather had settled down a bit.  There was still some rain and snow but amounts were generally "light" across the high plains.  Although temperatures have been warming lately due to the higher sun angle, overall there was only one day of pretty mild conditions.  Soil temperatures, although warming, continue well below normal for early April across much of the region.

Drying has been slow across much of the region.  Here is the accumulated precipitation since the 19th of March ending this morning (4/2)....

Going back to the fall, much of the region of western Kansas has seen precipitation amounts 2 1/2 to 3 times what is normal!  It's been a LONG time since soils have been so saturated for this time year.  It's also been very wet across other parts of the country.  The latest drought monitor map (showing long term conditions) indicates continued improvement across many areas.

The dryness across parts of west Texas and the panhandle has improved.  If you go back several posts ago, this was one region I was watching closely.  Typically if it gets really dry across west Texas, the feedback from the dry soils and warmer temperatures can contribute to dryness into Kansas during the spring. Let's see if this trend continues.

Looking ahead....

This mornings satellite image shows a pretty strong weather system just of the west coast....

Although this system will be approaching the central U.S. late Wednesday, it will also be undergoing a weakening trend.  Also, moisture near the surface will be lacking somewhat.  So, widespread heavy precipitation is not expected.  There should still showers and thunderstorms so that some locations will get another good soaking but those areas will be limited.  In general, most areas will get rainfall of less than 1/3 of an inch - and some may not get much at all.

For the next 7 days, there will be a few more opportunities for precipitation that I'll discuss in the next posting.  Also, temperatures should be closer to normal, on average, through about the 9th-10th.  But, then look out!  More cold around then through the end of the 3rd week can be expected, or at least temperatures will average out below normal for that period.    I'll try and post again towards the end of the week if I get a chance.