Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tornadoes in Canada - some changes for Kansas

courtesy Ricky Forbes - Canada
Monday was a very active day for the northern Plains and into Canada. It's not a huge surprise because severe season tends to shift north during the summer months. The stronger branch of the jet stream tracks across the US/Canada border and that's where the more intense storms develop. Tornadoes were touching down in Manitoba Monday evening. They were reported to be in sparsely populated areas, and no major damage or injuries were reported. A little crazy to see such large tornadoes so far north, but proof that they do happen even outside of Tornado Alley.

We continue to be under the influence of high pressure aloft. Its allowed the temperatures to stay hot and keep most of the heavier rain west and north. The plume of monsoon moisture has been flowing into western and northern Kansas, resulting in more rainfall for those areas. A cold front stalling over Oklahoma into Wednesday/Thursday will bring the chances for storms a little farther south through Thursday, but after that, we will be returning to some hotter/drier weather.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Shifting summer pattern & possibility for more rains

courtesy Rob Cotter - Goodland (taken Sunday evening)
A very typical, summer pattern continues over much of the central Plains. We do have some minor changes expected during the middle of the week, but it's nothing unusual. The large high pressure system that has been over the central and southern US has been pulling monsoon moisture up into Kansas. That has led to occasional rounds of rain and storms. It look like the high pressure won't go away completely, but it will get displaced to the west later this week. That's not good news for the fire situation across the West, but it will allow for some cooler air to settle over Kansas Wednesday/Thursday.

We will also get a chance for rain this week too. I'm posting two images from the different forecast models that we have been looking at. The top image is from the European model, while the bottom one is from an American model. They have some similarities, but I would expect that most of us will get rainfall amounts under .50" (unless you are under a very heavy downpour)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

El Nino is getting stronger - could be the strongest since 1997

Meteorologists are always faced with the difficult question: What will the summer/spring/fall/winter be like? As I've mentioned before, long range forecasting is very hard to say the least. There are so many variables to consider. For example, the last few years, some recent research is suggesting that snow cover in Siberia may have some indications on how cold our winters will be across the United States. Other variables include El Nino/La Nina.

Sea surface temperatures from June 21-July 18
Let me just remind you what El Nino and La Nina mean. El Nino is the unseasonably warm water near the equator, just off the west coast of South America. La Nina is just the opposite. For the last year or so, we've been waiting and watching for El Nino to show up. Finally, late last fall/early this spring, it started to show up, but in a weak state. It's been very elusive. Now, the forecast models continue to show El Nino getting stronger and may actually end up being the strongest since 1997.

So why don't we just go back and look at the weather we had in 1997/98 and make a forecast for the upcoming winter? It just isn't that easy because every El Nino event is a little different than the one before. There are tendencies for the weather pattern to behave certain ways during these different phenomenons, but there's so much more going on that has to be considered.

The last major El Nino was 1997/98 and in that winter, take a look:
Wichita snowfall: 20.5"
Dodge City snowfall: 37.9"
Goodland snowfall: 37.7"

Goodland had the snowiest October ever recorded with 19.7" in that one month alone. 

The Oceanic Nino Index (ONI) numbers that winter went to 2.3 degree Celsius (which indicates a very strong El Nino). Some of the forecasts projections are showing at least 2.0 degree Celsius for this winter, maybe stronger. So there is a very high chance (better than 90%) that we will have a strong El Nino going into winter this year and it should be fairly strong into spring of 2016.

A typical El Nino winter around Kansas is usually wetter than normal with near to slightly above normal temperatures. However, as I stated earlier, every event is different.

This is something we will be bringing up from time to time as we start watching and waiting for the summer patterns to fade and signs of fall that begin showing up in another 60 days. Fall can be a very exciting time watching the weather patterns change.

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