|courtesy Mark Greene - Kanopolis Lake|
Good Monday morning. What an incredible weekend of weather with highs in the 70s Saturday and even though it cooled off Sunday, it was still above normal for the end of February. Through the end of last week, our average temperature was above 38 degrees, making this the 5th warmest winter on record (for Wichita). The lack of snow is going to make this the 3rd lowest snowfall on record. The months of December, January, and February are considered meteorological winter, and during that time, some areas haven't even had 1 inch of snow. I haven't even touched my snow shovel this season. Just crazy!
So where are we headed for the next few weeks? Most of the active weather this week will be south and east of Kansas. Our weather certainly cools off compared to last week. The big buckle in the weather pattern (jet stream) over the eastern half of the US will keep us out of record warmth. We also won't get much moisture with this kind of setup.
One of the indicators we look at is the Arctic Oscillation. And it's dipping negative into the start of March. This means we will likely see some colder air continuing to slide south out of Canada and the Arctic regions, but even if we do, it's unlikely to last for very long (probably not much more than just a few days at a time) Into the weekend (and the start of March), some bitterly cold air will be gathering up around the Great Lakes and trying to push south. Even with Arctic air nearby, it's probably not going to be that cold. Highs may drop into the 40s for a few days, but the core of the bitter cold is very likely going to stay east of us. Unfortunately for moisture, there isn't much of that coming our way for the next 8-10 days.
While Kansas was dealing with wind gusts over 50 mph last Thursday, look what happened in the Rockies. Monarch Pass, located about 160 miles southwest of Denver, recorded a wind gust of 148 mph. It happened around 7:30 p.m. MST when the weather station reported thunder and snow. Just 700 feet below the mountain on Highway 50, Colorado Department of Transportation had a weather station that measured winds out of the north at just 32 mph. It's easier for the wind to gust to such strength at higher altitudes because you don't have anything to slow the wind down (friction). The 148 mile per hour wind gust is one of the strongest measured in Colorado.