Friday, October 21, 2016

Quiet weekend, then a chance for rain

We have a sunny and milder forecast on the way for the weekend. Last week at this time, we were preparing for a return to summer (as you may recall, record highs were set on Sunday and Monday) Even though the weather pattern is about to change and allow warm weather to come back, it won't be record setting.

Dodge City National Weather Service posted this image yesterday on Twitter. I love these rainfall summary maps because they clearly show who's been missed by the moisture. And the southwest needs rain again to help get the wheat going. The chance for rain on Tuesday (Oct 25) will be with a weak low pressure system and a cold front coming through the state. Even though the Gulf of Mexico moisture will be flowing north, it doesn't look like western Kansas will see much from this chance for rain. Rainfall amounts might be close to .50" in some spots, but we will need to watch a few more model runs before we can really say for sure how much we'll get.

NOAA issues their winter outlook:
Another winter forecast was released yesterday from NOAA, so you might see this come up in your social feed somewhere. It doesn't tell us anything for Kansas, but does suggest the south will be warm and the north will be cold. They are also calling for wet weather in the northern Rockies, with drought conditions continuing across southern California.

We are still piecing together information for our winter forecast that will be coming out on November 7th. Long range forecasting is tough, but I'll share with you as much as I know to help you prepare for the winter season.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Where is our next storm... and is someone talking about snow?

Sure seems like we've had some nice fall weather, but it never wants to hang around for very long. Take for example today... highs in the 60s, but already looking at the next big weather pattern change for the weekend and it spells WARM! Once again, we will find ourselves in no man's land when it comes to stormy weather, rain, or cool, fall weather. Highs will be running about 10-15 degrees above normal as the jet stream (or storm track) goes back north.

What's the outlook for rain next week? Parts of western Kansas have gone nearly 50 days without measurable moisture. Timing and location of the next batch of moisture is a little uncertain. It's a difficult forecast, but one encouraging sign is that the forecast models agree stormy weather returns to the west coast. We are not sure if that big "L" in the West will make it all the way to Kansas, but pieces of it may break off and move our way. That's what we are banking on in an effort to hopefully bring some rain chances back to Kansas. Gulf of Mexico moisture starts pumping north on Monday, so we will watch and see how that plays into our rain chances during the week.

When is our first freeze coming? I've been asked this question quite a bit lately, and all I can say is it doesn't look like it's anytime soon. Even if we get a storm toward the end of next week, the amount of cold air with the storm is lacking. So for now, I'd say our first freeze is easily 10-14 days away (perhaps even more)

One Facebook post I saw yesterday was a little alarming. It comes from some source in Oklahoma already talking about a snowstorm in the Plains around November 2nd. This seems VERY unlikely, even if we have a storm forming nearby. There isn't much cold air showing up on the models right now (even in the long range), so any post you see on social media suggesting snow, I'd hesitate to believe it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What's happened to the rain and La Nina watch

What we saw yesterday in Kansas was beyond crazy for October. It's one thing to have record high temperatures, but to have the last 100 degree reading ever for Kansas take place on October 17th is just flat out weird. And to go along with it, October 17th is even later than Las Vegas' last 100 degree temperature in October (that record is October 4th)

We are slipping back to fall weather now and even though we are looking at another big warm up next weekend, it's unlikely we will climb out of the 80s. Normal highs are now in the 60s, so we shouldn't be getting much above 80. Ridiculous Kansas weather sometimes.

What has happened to the rains in western Kansas? It was such a remarkable summer with steady rains and such wonderful moisture, but since September 1st, the faucet has been turned off. Look at these numbers:

  • Since September 1st
    • Dodge City: 0.40"
    • Garden City: 0.19"
    • Goodland: 2.53"
    • Wichita: 12.42"

Wichita and much of south central Kansas could go awhile longer without rain and be just fine. But we need some moisture in the west in order to give the newly planted wheat crop a boost. Unfortunately, as I mentioned last week here on the blog, chances for moisture between now and the end of the month are quite slim. Another high pressure ridge sets up for early next week, and that's not the news that western Kansas needs.

For those assuming that a wet summer means we are in for a wet winter... this latest trend toward drier should put those assumptions to rest. There's no way we can draw those conclusions based on what's happened so far this year. We are still studying the patterns and watching the changes before we can make any predictions into the winter season.

We are officially back on "La Nina Watch" as water temperatures near the Equator continue to cool. For awhile, it looked like we might be "neutral = no El Nino and no La Nina", but now it looks like water temperatures will be just cool enough to qualify. So if we end up with a weak La Nina, what does that mean for wintertime in Kansas? It's not an easy answer, but when we issue our winter forecast, I'll do some more explaining how it could play into the forecast. 

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