Wet May will give way to humidity and summerlike temperatures as we enter June

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After a very active May, the weather pattern slows down and warms up as we enter June.  Cloudy grey skies over the weekend will clear on Monday and we’ll start on a cool note, before temperatures and the humidity  rise mid week and beyond.  Be sure the A/C is working as we’re going to be needing it after Wednesday.  Highs in the low-mid 80s and lows in the 65-70 degree range are expected. Rain chances will be much more scattered, and they will be tied to thunderstorm clusters which form on the Front Range each afternoon and track east and southeast each night.  Right now, that train of storm clusters is likely to run from MT/WY/CO through the Dakotas into NE/MN and IA, but these may trend a little further south than forecast right now.  This will be one of those typical mid summer patterns where these clusters roll off the high terrain in the evening and whatever’s left over approaches or passes through overnight or in the morning.  That’s more likely for us late in the week, while early in the week, we will likely see periods of high clouds (blowoff from the distant storms) mainly each morning and early afternoon, so 100% sunny days all week are not anticipated either, but at least we’ll have at least the first half of the week rain-free.  No organized or major severe weather outbreaks are anticipated either, as those will be mainly near where the storms form along the front range.  Late this week there will be the potential for some of the clusters to give us some gusty winds if they remain strong enough as they reach our area.

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May in Review:

Most notable for May was the rainfall.  The western district had 7-11″ of rain, with Kansas City International reporting the sixth wettest May on record with 10.25″ of rainfall.  10.29″ marked the 5th wettest May in 1996.  Additionally, there has not been 10″ of rain reported at KCI since June, 2005, which was just one month shy of 10 years ago. This puts KCI just under 3″ above average for 2015 and over 5″ above average for May.

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The rain in the western district was the northernmost tip of a heavy rain area which extended and expanded SSW:

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10-20″+ fell over OK/TX making news with devastating flooding.

The eastern district saw significant rainfall as well, especially SEMO/SW IL, but STL finished the month nearly 1″ below average and is now nearly 1″ below average for 2015.

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This series of maps (click to make more readable) show average May rains (L), percent of average observed rains (M) and difference from average observed rains (R).

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This extraordinary rainfall has pretty well wiped out the multi-year central and southern Plains drought.  Lingering dryness is spotty over TX/KS/OK.

 

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But this is a big difference when compared with 1 year ago:

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This map shows the change from this time in 2014.  Yellows/oranges show worse-off locations while greens show improvement.

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Wet areas this month stayed cool with drier areas seeing warmth this month.

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The US NWS CPC expects higher probabilities for a cooler than average June centered on the south central Plains, with a ring of warmth from the west, through the north and along the east coast.  The cooler than average weather is in part due to the fact of this being very wet ground and a lot of the sun’s energy will go into evaporation rather than heating even without additional heavy rains.

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While a signal for wetness remains across the Southern Plains, the stronger signal shifts northward to the CO/NE area and along the southern and eastern coasts.  Locally, this forecast shows little signal for wet or dry.  Other forecasts are for more widespread wetter conditions.  June rains are largely dependent upon where storm clusters form and track and as we’ve seen, some areas can be inundated while other areas not that far away miss out.

Global Tropics:

Western Pacific:

Super Typhoon Dolphin

Dolphin developed at low latitudes and was most notable for passing just north of Guam. This image was taken several days after the system had passed through the Marianas Islands (Guam is the larger island to the southeast of the eye.  The system was near peak intensity in this image.

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TY Dolphin passed through the range of the Guam Radar with these series of images taken (Click to make more readable). The B&W image shows the subtle structure of the rain bands while the 3-D images also show some of the structure.  The red/blue image shows the wind field (speed) with blues winds blowing inbound and red winds outbound.

20150515_0844_PGUA_07WDOLPHIN_95kts-952mb-125N-1497E_100pc 20150515_0847_PGUA_07WDOLPHIN_95kts-952mb-125N-1497E_100pc 20150515_0850_PGUA_07WDOLPHIN_95kts-952mb-125N-1497E_100pc 20150515_0851_PGUA_07WDOLPHIN_95kts-952mb-125N-1497E_100pc 20150515_0856_PGUA_07WDOLPHIN_95kts-952mb-125N-1497E_100pc

 

Eastern Pacific:

Hurricane Andres (01E)

Andres wasted no time forming from a tropical wave along 100W south of Mexico at the end of May (the East Pacific season opens 5/15).  This series shows the system as it organized and neared peak.  As with most eastern Pacific tropical cyclones, the system moved well offshore and well away from any land areas.  As the month ended, it was approaching colder waters and will rapidly weaken the first week of June.

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Tropical Low 93E formed right behind Andres and was visible as a tight swirl of clouds.  Wind shear from Andres was preventing development, but as that system weakens, this one will strengthen and according to the NHC is likely to become a tropical depression early  this week, as a Tropical Storm, it would be named “Blanca”.  This looks to be a very busy tropical cyclone season in the central and eastern Pacific.

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We’ll follow up with the progress of these two systems in later posts.

Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Watches out for parts of the area

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A very active Sunday shaping up out there with severe weather potential high.   There is a tornado watch until 7 PM which extends into St. Francois County MO and covers much of central MO (red) and a severe thunderstorm watch until 10 PM for the entire western district and covers much of western Mo and eastern KS (blue).

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There is plenty of moisture in the air with dew points to summer like levels over the region and a sharp drop off over central KS where winds turn westerly behind a cold front.

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We’ve got two areas of thunderstorms we’re watching.  The first from NC to SC Missouri moved through KC around lunchtime.  It’s heading into 70 and 80 degree air over eastern MO and southern IL which will help the storms maintain their strength.  The second area is over east central KS and is much more scattered and recently developed.  This is right along the cool front. Notice temps in the 60s and 70s over the western district, dropping sharply into the 50s and 40s over KS.  This air is just behind the first wave and that’s taken a little energy out of the air.

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Skies are clearing though, so there is some heating taking place ahead of this line.

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The bottom line is be weather aware as we head through the afternoon and nighttime.  The first wave may reach the eastern district late afternoon and evening, and depending upon how the line evolves, it is possible the watch could be extended into IL.  Also, additional storms will sometimes form ahead of the leading line of thunderstorms.   For the western district, arrival time of the KS line is also late afternoon or evening, and we’ll have to watch how this line maintains itself as it enters areas which were rain-cooled earlier today and if skies can clear fast enough before the cloud blow-off from the new storms removes the opportunity for some sunshine and heating ahead of the line.  Current indications are this line may be more scattered than the first wave and not all areas will be impacted, but again, remain weather aware.

Drought:

The lack of rain in the week which closed at 7 AM Tuesday (May 5), (which is when the cutoff for the data used by the U.S. Drought Monitor in making these maps) led to little change to the drought situation in the west, aside from a slow creep northward into Cass and Johnson Counties in MO.  The biggest change was the expansion of dryness west across south central Missouri and the Ozarks which is starting to reach toward the eastern forecast district.

St. Louis is -0.66 for the month and -0.94″ for 2015 through 12AM today. (not including today’s rain).

Kansas City is +0.25 for the month and -2.00″ for 2015 through 12AM today. (not including today’s rain).

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Week In Review:

Warmth was concentrated in the eastern U.S., with cool weather in the High Plains, Rio Grande, Florida and in the Southwest.  Several atypical rain events impacted the Southwest, where May and June are usually the hottest, driest months.  The PACNW was also warmer than average.

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Several thunderstorm events unfolded for the week, particularly in the west, where a severe thunderstorm watch was issued on Monday and heavy rain tracked over the northwest half of the western district into Tuesday.

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This a a radar-estimated rainfall total ending Tuesday morning:

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The southern half of the district did not really get much if any rain as the band lifted north with time.  General rains fell in the eastern district on Saturday with some thunder and lightning:

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Here’s a look at this weeks rains ending at 7AM this morning (so this does not count today’s rain):

Healthy totals in the east this week:

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Much healthier totals in the west as well.

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Severe weather remained concentrated over TX/OK with some strong tornadoes very near Oklahoma City.  Here are some radar images of the classic “Hook” echo of a storm with a strong tornado (click to make them more readable).  The second two images are winds, and show wind fields around the storm (blue toward or inbound and red or outbound) away from the radar site which was very near the tornado. OK City is just NNE of this storm and Moore, OK (where there have been repeated destructive tornadoes is just north of the storm on I-35.

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Global Tropics:

The tropics turned active this week with the developing systems mentioned last week continuing to organize.  Tropical Depression 06W developed into Typhoon Noul which made landfall on the extreme northeast tip of the Philippine Island of Luzon as a Super Typhoon with 130 kt winds. Noul is forecast to gradually weaken as it curves northeast to the east of Japan this week and transitions into a mid latitude storm system over the north Pacific. Here are some shots of Noul as it approached peak strength and grazed Luzon.

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Tropical Storm Dolphin (07W) developed further west of Noul over the Marshall Islands. Dolphin developed within 5 degrees of the equator and it’s circulation extended south of the equator.  Here are some images of the very large system.  As is typical with these large systems they are slow to organize and develop, but TS Dolphin is forecast to become a typhoon and track near Guam by late in the week.  We’ll update that on next week’s blog.

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Closer to home, the Atlantic season started early with a low pressure area near the Bahamas evolving into Subtropical Storm Ana, which then became Tropical Storm Ana. Subtropical storms are hybrid storms having some characteristics of “run of the mill” low pressure areas and tropical cyclones.  Here is a series of satellite images showing the low which would become Ana developing, transforming  into a tropical storm and making landfall very near the SC/NC border. Ana developed, thanks in part to warmer than average waters off the southeast coast in the Gulf Stream and developing under a cold-core upper low which made the atmosphere more unstable than would be typical for tropical cyclone formation. (This can be a typical scenario for subtropical cyclone formation).

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Here are a few radar images of Ana, which was trying for a time to close off an eye-like feature, but was fighting off dry air.  The red/blue image is a Doppler radar image of the wind flow with blues/purples flow inbound toward the Wilmington NC radar and reds flow outbound (away) from the radar.

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The North Atlantic Hurricane season doesn’t begin until June 1, with the eastern Pacific season starting late this week. Just to recap; here are the next few names on the northern Hemisphere TC list:

Here are the next names for the Atlantic this year: Bill, Claudette, Danny and Erika.

In the Eastern Pacific (out to 140W): Andres, Blanca, Carlos and Delores.

In the Central Pacific (140W to the Dateline): Ela, Halola, Iune, Kilo

In the Western Pacific (180E to Asia): Kujira, Chan-hom, Linfa, Nagka.

In the North Indian Ocean: Ashobaa, Komen, Chapala, Megh.

Storms crossing from one ocean to another which remain a tropical cyclone keep their original name.

 

 

 

Warmth and humidity return this week, “best” rain chances west until late week.

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A Summertime preview is in store this week as highs climb into the high 70s and low 80s.  Humidity will be back in force as well.  The west will see periodic clouds and shower/storm chances all week, peaking late week, while the east sees more sun and better rain chances hold off until late week or next weekend.

Drought Update:

Little rainfall brought little change to the map, but dryness is gaining hold again in the western district with most of the week’s rain falling west and south over parts of TX/OK and W KS which are in really bad shape. They should see some significant improvement in next week’s update.  Three days in and KC is already a half an inch below average in rainfall.  May and June are the year’s wettest months when 5.23″ of rain falls on average each month.  2015 deficits are nearing 3″. By contrast, St. Louis is only 0.55″ behind for 2015.

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This week’s rainfall potential holds some real hope for the western district, and a real chance for a bust. As you can see there is a very sharp dividing line between very little rain east and several inches west.  Remember, these are generalized totals and even within the “forecast” rain bands there will be lucky locations which get lots of rain and those who just by chance, miss the significant showers.  The threat would be a westward shift in the expected rain, which would give the central Plains the heaviest totals and keep those totals..just..out of reach for the west.  The west needs about 1.25″ of rain per week this time of year just to keep up with average.

Here’s the rainfall outlook graphic:

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Severe Weather:

There will be a non-zero risk for severe storms this week, but pinpointing one day over another is virtually impossible this week, there is no “overall” strong signal for severe weather. That being said, the central and southern Plains will have the greatest risk, with a few days with a marginal risk into the west.  It will all depend upon where the storm clusters form, where they track and how much cloudiness they leave behind. Later in the week as a larger system comes out of the SW U.S, there may be a potential for more widespread strong storms, but that may not happen until next weekend.  Overall, we’re in for a week with few 100% sunny days out west (more partly cloudy to cloudy at times) and periodic chances for showers and storms, while there will be more sun in the east and rain chances really stay away until late week.  One thing for certain: You’ll feel the humidity return as highs climb into the 70s and low 80s and lows remain 60 or higher over the entire district.

Week in Review:

As expected, a very quiet week across the district with a few showers across the western district on Saturday morning.  Here are the rainfall charts for the seven-day period ending today for both districts:

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Looking back at April:

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April was a mild month for most of the country, the heat out west faded a bit and the cold in New England did as well. The cold was mainly centered near the still-cold Great Lakes, northern New England and the Rio Grande Valley, with isolated pockets elsewhere. Florida and the Gulf Coast was the warmest.

Rainfall in the west was heaviest south and east of KC and much lighter N and W.

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The eastern district fared better, as has been the case for a while now, with the heaviest totals following the tracks of some of the stronger April thunderstorm clusters.

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In terms of the percentage of average rainfall, a majority, but not all, of the western district finished on the dry side (again), with a few surplus spots located to the SE of KC.  The east finished with above average rains except a small corridor from the MS river through northern Randolph County, then jogging into Washington County, IL.

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Global Tropics:

Two tropical cyclones were observed this week, what is likely to be the final southern Hemisphere system, and the next in what will likely be a v

ery active season for the western north Pacific.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Quang (24S/21U):

Quang developed in the typical late season development area of the Southern Indian Ocean, just south of the Indonesian Islands of Java and Bali around 11-12 degrees south. Quang developed explosively from a tropical low to a tropical cyclone (equivalent to a tropical storm) in one day, then further to an Australian Category 4 severe tropical cyclone on April 30 with wind speeds of 115 knots or 132 mph, which would also be a category 4 (hurricane) on the U.S. scale.  Quang weakened rapidly thereafter due to strong upper level wind shear and progressively colder waters, crossing the Western Australian Coast as a tropical cyclone (tropical storm) before weakening inland May 1.

Here are a series of images showing Quang’s development, peak and demise (click to zoom in to each image):

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From the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Here’s the system’s track to landfall (times are local in western Australia) :

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The system’s quick demise was due to rapidly approaching winter in the southern Hemisphere (remember it’s their equivalent of our early November) now.  Water temperatures are cooling, the jet stream is shifting north and large, high pressure systems are now crossing Australia, feeding cooler and drier air into the continent.  The monsoon trough, the dividing line between warm moist air flowing from the equatorial regions and cooler drier southeasterly flow is headed north toward the Equator.  Take a look at these two charts (click to make the more readable and remember that “Late Summer” in Australia is “Late Winter” here in the U.S. and “Winter” there is “Summer” here.  In the peak cyclone season,  the equatorial trough moves southward toward and over North Australia.  Converging winds act on tropical lows or disturbances within the trough, and these can spin up into tropical cyclones.  As we move into this time of year and beyond, this trough retreats to and eventually north of the Equator into the North Indian and Northwest Pacific Oceans. Meanwhile polar low pressure systems and anticyclones (high pressure systems) begin to track further north through Australia.  That brings cool winds to southern parts of the country and dry easterly flow in the center and the north, which joins with the southeasterly trade winds blowing across to the Equator and the trough located to its north.  There really is no convergence and much of central and northern (tropical) Australia is in a dry season.

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That’s most likely why Quang will be the southern Hemisphere’s last storm.  Storms can form near the Equator and primarily west of 90E in the Southern Indian Ocean for a few more weeks, but they become increasingly rare, and if they form are weak and short lived.

Tropical Depression 06W:

The sixth tropical cyclone of the NW Pacific season formed Saturday and will likely become TS Noul. Another disturbance further east may also develop this week.

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We’ll have more on these systems on next week’s update.

After Sunday: Cooling off and quieting down this week

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A much quieter week shaping up as we head into a cooler and drier pattern this week and the threat for severe weather looks very low at this point.  We’re not looking for any significant frosts or freezes, but jackets will be in order each morning with lows a few degrees either side of 40 and highs mostly in the 60s.  Several days of strong late April sun will help the days “feel” warmer, except for Monday which will have gusty northwesterly winds.

Taking a look a the upper air pattern, the polar jet continues to retreat, but we’re still going to be dealing with a cut-off low.  The low which has been churning through the southwest last week with occasional rains and storms this weekend has opened into a trough and will lift into Canada Monday, where it joins with another wave becoming a rather large cut-off low over the Great Lakes.  It should sit and spin there for a better part of the week as a weaker trough develops just to the SW of California and then weakens as it heads east late week. This keeps our area in NW/WNW flow which is a cooler and drier pattern for us.  There may be some spot showers from time to time with ill-defined ripples in this flow, but organized severe weather does not appear to be a threat at this time.

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Including rain which falls today and tonight, generally 1/2″ to 1″ (extreme southern parts of the western district) generally will fall with most of that Sunday afternoon through Monday.

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Recent rains have helped beat back the drought a bit across the west in the past week, and with this weeks rains, we should see a further improvement in maps issued this next Thursday. Here’s the latest map, which does not count rains falling this weekend:

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Week in Review:

Temperatures continued to be mild east of the Rockies and in California with cooler weather over the inter-mountain west, thanks in part to the upper level storm parked over that area most of the week.

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Rainfall eluded the eastern district (especially STL) for a change (this map runs through 7AM Sunday and does not count rains falling after that point).

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The west finally saw some widespread decent rainfall events. (This map runs through 7AM Sunday and does not count rains falling after that point).

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Global Tropics:

There were no tropical cyclones in any basin this week as we begin to enter the transition season from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere. A few showers and storms are noted near the equator in the Indian Ocean and there are some other scattered thunderstorms in the Pacific south of the Equator and some clouds north of the Equator east of the dateline.   Activity will begin to increase in the western Pacific in the coming weeks and it looks like that basin may have a very busy season.

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We’ll update the blog next week and FB for the drought update on Thursday –and any developments in severe weather potential.

 

 

Some stronger storms possible west tonight, overall a near average week. The western district is becoming very short on rain..

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Springtime means more active weather, and we’ve certainly had that over the past week.  Heavy rains have continued to plague the eastern district, severe thunderstorms dumped large hail and there were several radar indicated tornadoes, but none fortunately which were confirmed as touching down.  In the west, storms developed just east of the district with one severe thunderstorm producing 2″ hail in north Kansas City, but widespread rains missed most areas and drought is a mounting concern.  This week, active weather continues although widespread severe weather does not seem as likely as it was last week. Rain chances will finish the weekend, return mid week and then possibly next weekend or early the following week.  We don’t have any expectation of any frosts, freezes or extreme heat, but there are some indications we may face another frosty morning or two just beyond this outlook period.  We’ll start this week’s focus with the western district, where rain (or the lack of) is beginning to make the news.  There was some welcome rain (Sunday Morning) and the opportunity for more rain (overnight Sunday), and there is the chance for a few strong or marginally severe storms overnight.

Western District: Marginal Risk for Severe Weather Sunday night or Monday Morning:

The Storm Prediction Center indicates there is a “Marginal” risk for severe weather in the western district this evening and overnight.  Marginal means isolated severe storms with low risk for any tornado activity, winds of 40-60 mph in the strongest storms (58 mph is considered a “severe” thunderstorm wind gust) and hail up to 1″ (quarter) size.

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This activity is expected along an incoming cold front. Here’s the high resolution computer forecast of the radar at 2 AM Monday morning with this first wave of showers and thunderstorms, blowing through in about 2 hours and leaving anywhere from 1/3″ to 3/4″ an inch of rainfall.

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The NAM-4 model is onboard with this as well, but about an hour later (3AM) into KC.  It too also leaves 1/4″ to 3/4″ of rain.  Both models weaken this line by the time it reaches the eastern district early (around the morning commute).

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Western District: Drought Update:

With the continued misses in rainfall, dryness continues to advance into the west. A light to moderate dose of rainfall fell early Sunday morning, with 0.40″ at Kansas City International and 0.36″ in downtown KC.  In this estimate any of the grey tones are less than 1/2″ while the purples are 1/2″ to 1″. Blue tones are 1-1.5″ totals and greens are 1.5 to 2″ totals.  This rain helped, but even so, the area is teetering into drought.

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Abnormally dry conditions now dominate over the southwest half of the district, and those conditions deteriorate into moderate drought southwest of Emporia KS and severe drought over and west of Wichita, KS.  As of this writing, Kansas City is:

-0.07″ for April,

-1.91 for 2015,

-20.17″ for the 2010s decade,

-24.66″ for the 2000s.

Average annual rain is 38.86″ so they are just under 14″ short of missing the equivalent of an ENTIRE YEAR’S worth of rain since 2000.  Those are some pretty impressive numbers in a bad way.  It’s one of those scenarios where those who need the rain continue to miss it (the west) and those who don’t need any more continue to get it (the east). By contrast, St. Louis is within an inch of the average rains which would typically fall between January 1, 2000 and April 12, 2015.

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The U.S. Drought Monitor, which produces these maps only includes rains which fall between 7AM Tuesday and 7AM the following Tuesday.  Rain falling this weekend, including another chance Sunday night/Monday morning will be included in next weeks map.  We’ll see if these rains can be enough to prevent further deterioration. Thunderstorm rains are spotty as we’ve seen and we’re moving out of the time of year when widespread heavy rains are common and into the time of year when individual storms or storm clusters can flood some areas and leave others rainless.

Model rainfall forecasts have not been all that helpful.  Part of the reason, as discussed above, is the spotty nature of warm season rains. The NWS GFS Model has been gyrating wildly between wet and dry solutions for the western district. Yesterday it expected around 1″ over the next 10 days, overnight, it flipped to almost 5″ of rain for the same period and this morning reverted back to 1/2-1″ of rain for the next 10 days (most of that falling Sunday night/Monday morning). The European model is averaging anywhere between 1-3″ of rain over the next 10 days. The Canadian model prints out less than 1/3″ over areas on the NW edge of the western district to 1″ in KC and 3″+ on the far SE side over the next 10 days. The UK model gives KC less than 1″ in the next week and finally the FIM9 model shows around 1.3″ for the western district in the next 10 days.  The NWS WPC officially prints out widespread 1-1.25″ totals in the west over the next seven days. Climatology says KC should average around 1.1″ of rain every 10 days in March.

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) maintains more or less equal probabilities for above/below precipitation for the majority of the remainder of the month for the western district, but does bring enhanced probabilities for dryness closer to northern sections of the western district April 20-26.

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The NWS Climate Forecast System V2 is still hopeful for a turn around in May with 100-125% of average rain for the west.  May and June are the wettest months in the west on average with 5.23″ of rain each of those months. That would mean anywhere from 5.23′” to 6.53″ of rain would fall in May for this to verify and the model has been a bit optimistic in rainfall projections for quite a while now.

 

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The Week Ahead:

Taking a look at the model jet stream forecasts this week we can see that the main polar jet (heavy blue arrows) has now moved north into Canada and the main polar low is parked up near Greenland. Several weaker mid/high  latitude lows are noted in the Gulf of Alaska and over Canada.  Another jet is further south in the U.S. and this is the main driver of our weather. A very weak upper level low in the SW High Plains Monday is absorbed into the flow by Tuesday as a sharp dip in the jet over Washington State becomes a trough and low over the Rockies.  This low eventually becomes cut-off from the main belt of westerly winds and meanders over the southern Rockies late week before beginning to re-attach to the westerly flow late week as a low and trough passing through Ontario/Manitoba begin to pick up the now much weaker low. This low moving into the Rockies on the Wednesday chart will be in part, responsible for mid week rain chances.  Rain chances next weekend will depend upon how the low over Canada does (or does not) sync up with the slowly spinning down low over the southern Rockies late next week. If the low does not reconnect, it may well spin down to oblivion where it sits and never be much of a player in next weekend’s weather.  If the two lows sync up as shown on the map for Sunday 4/19, it might not only provide for shower and thunderstorm chances but also a burst of cold air (note the ridge over western Canada –and remember how that was such a player in our late winter cold snaps). Now mid April cold is not anywhere near February or March cold, but that would be a scenario where we might need to think about a frosty morning or two..IF things sync up that way.  It should be noted though that the European model also syncs the two features up a day or two later than shown here,  but the European model can tend to be a little slow with southern stream lows so there is some concern we may be dealing with at least one more chance for some frosty mornings this time next week.

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There will be the possibility for some severe weather this week with the midweek system, but the differences in computer model solutions make highlighting any particular area over any other difficult at best, unlike last week when we had a very good idea days in advance which areas would be at greater risk.  This time of year always be prepared for the possibility of severe weather and we’ll post FB updates should any part of the district be placed in a risk area.

Rainfall for the next 7 days starting today is expected to be most significant in the west, with 1/2-1″ totals there while eastern areas seen generally 1/4-1/2″ totals.  It should be noted that a good part of that western total arrives tonight/Monday AM, so a miss might bring all areas down to the 1/4-1/2″ total for the week ahead. These are generalized totals and the actual week’s total will likely vary much more from place to place, depending upon where storms track.

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Week in review:

It was a very active week across the district with severe weather and heavy rains. Temperatures were warmer than average overall, and that included most of the U.S. south of 45N latitude and east of about 115W longitude.  The west coast was cool as was the northern tier and New England.

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Western District: Missed heavy rains again:

Again, the western district missed most of the action with spotty light showers and one strong thunderstorm. Rain did fall on Sunday morning, however as discussed above. Well off to the south there was a supercell thunderstorm northwest of Joplin in SW Missouri. This is a classic example of a “hook” echo storm.  Notice the blues and reds close in the left panel image,  showing the rotation. The “hook” is due to an inflow notch where incoming air rotates into the storm.

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This is not the same storm, but it does show a 3-D representation of the “hook” part of the storm.

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One lone strong and hail producing storm impacted N and W portions of the KC Metro Wednesday evening. The pink shading in the storm represents the high reflectivity of the hail in this storm.

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For most of the west though, the cap, which we discussed last week was just too strong to allow widespread severe weather in the west.  Here’s that simplified graphic we used last week to show how the cap works.  There were also storms in SE KS/SW MO earlier in the day and southerly winds blew this rain-cooled air into the KC region which only helped to strengthen the intensity of the cap.

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Here is an image of the capping inversion represented by the orange and red tones in temperatures aloft.

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The net result was little to no significant rains again for the west as storms formed just E/NE of the district and moved away to the NE or formed well SW of the district and bypassed the area to the southeast. Extreme SE portions of the west including Cass/Johnson County MO fared much better with rainfall.

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The East: Rains and Severe weather more widespread

The cap was not nearly as much of an issue with it being much weaker and able to be broken in the east much easier.

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The eastern district continued to get pounded by heavy rains and multiple rounds of strong to severe storms. Here’s the storm which would prompt warnings for the SE Missouri Ozarks.  Notice the right image showing the hail cores along the Franklin/Crawford-Washington County lines.  This was at 2:31 PM. This storm originated east of Kansas City that morning.

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A storm which produced 2-3″ diameter hail near Potosi MO also developed into a storm with strong rotation and tornado warnings for St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties.  There were no reports of a tornado touchdown. Again, note the bright blues and reds close together just north of Farmington. That shows rotation aloft (the beam is in the cloud level at this distance from the St. Louis Radar which is in Weldon Spring, MO.  This image was taken at 4:26 PM.

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This storm cluster was the only major system in the district at that time and had prompted a tornado watch.

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By 5:45 PM. The warning was extended into Perry County MO, but the rotation had begun to weaken, although there was a lot of hail aloft (pinks and purples).

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45 minutes later, the rotation was gone and the tornado warnings were replaced for severe thunderstorm warnings for hail and high straight line winds.

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The cold front, moving in on Thursday, brought more of a broken line of thunderstorms to the area, although tornado watches were issued for the entire area.

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Severe thunderstorms with large hail, winds and lightning impacted SW Perry county MO just before 8 PM.

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Another tornado warning was issued for part of Perry County MO around 9 PM for radar indicated rotation moving out of Cape Girardeau County, again there were no reports of any tornado touchdowns.

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3-D images show the rotation aloft.

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These several days of storms produced widespread heavy rains across the district with 2-4″ totals common.

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Global Tropics:

Tropical Cyclones Ikola, Joalane and Solo were all systems active south of the equator.  Ikola and Joalane in the South Indian Ocean were discussed in last week’s post and were just forming at that point.  Ikola developed just west of 90E and was named by the TCWC on Reunion Island.  In the southern hemisphere, all storms of tropical storm intensity (named storms) are called “tropical cyclones”. Some warning centers designate hurricane intensity storms as “severe tropical cyclones”.  Here in the northern hemisphere, tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes/typhoons are all considered “tropical cyclones”. They are not usually named until they reach tropical storm intensity.  The U.S. issues advisories on all tropical depressions from the Dateline in the Pacific to the African coast in the Atlantic. (The U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center does the same for systems west of the dateline). The warning center in Tokyo, Japan which covers the Pacific west of the dateline issues advisories on tropical depressions expected to become tropical storms within 12 hours and on tropical storms, severe tropical storms and typhoons. The North Indian Ocean has a different system naming systems of tropical storm-strength or greater, which they term “cyclonic storms”. Storms in the north Indian Ocean are far fewer and usually occur in May/June or October/November.

Ikola (21S/14R/19U) had a brief life as a hurricane intensity system as it moved rapidly southeast to the west of Australia. It quickly developed an eye, but was dissipated by colder waters and strong wind shear.

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Joalane (22S/13R)became a hurricane-intensity system east of Reunion Island- (which is the island visible to the left of the storm) and tracked due south towards strong winds aloft and cold seas, becoming a mid latitude storm system in the far southern Indian Ocean Sunday morning.

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Solo (23P/15F) developed quickly near the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific along 160E and had a very short life as it tracked southeast well off the coast of Australia.  Solo developed near where the very destructive TC Pam formed earlier in the season.

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We’re now nearing the end of the southern Hemisphere season, which ends for most areas by the end of this month.  Remember, they are moving into mid Autumn south of the equator as we move into mid Spring.  Things will likely be quiet in the tropics before the northern hemisphere season begins to pick up.  The NW Pacific will become active first, then the NE Pacific and finally the Atlantic.  The preliminary outlook from hurricane forecasters indicates a quiet year for hurricanes for the Atlantic. That being said, it only takes one hurricane to do a lot of damage so if you plan a trip to the Gulf/Atlantic coasts, the Caribbean, the southern Baja Peninsula, the southern Pacific coast of Mexico or Hawaii be weather aware for any possible tropical cyclones.

Here are the first few names for the Atlantic this year: Ana, Bill, Claudette and Danny.

In the Eastern Pacific (out to 140W): Andres, Blanca, Carlos and Delores.

In the Central Pacific (140W to the Dateline): Ela, Halola, Iune, Kilo

In the Western Pacific (180E to Asia): Noul, Dolphin, Kujira, Chan-hom

In the North Indian Ocean: Ashobaa, Komen, Chapala, Megh.

Storms crossing from one ocean to another which remain a tropical cyclone keep their original name.

Potentially active week with severe weather and heavy rain risks

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As we move deeper into April, the threat for weather continues this week with several days presenting the opportunity for severe storms and one day in particular, Thursday, appearing the day with the highest risk.  Rainfall will again be heavy, especially in the east, where rains have been plentiful, with less significant, but still notable rains in the west where dryness and drought are an increasing concern.

Let’s take a look at the upper air pattern as we move through the week.

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Notice the jet stream is retreating north with the polar lows now rotating from Quebec to the Davis Strait and over the Canadian Archipelago.   An upper trough will track through the western and central U.S, this week providing the dynamics and lift for thunderstorms. Another trough begins to take shape NEXT weekend.

Severe Weather:

Midweek (Tue-Thu) is the prime concern.  A Marginal risk exists and extends into the far southern portion of the western district Tuesday, while an elevated risk develops over the entire west and areas NW of STL in the east Wednesday. Tuesday will see a weak cool front settle south into central MO/SE KS with the marginal risk along and south of that boundary.  Wednesday, that front turns around as a warm front and lifts north and westward, with the threat along and west/north of the warm front.

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The main reason severe weather is not a slam dunk Wednesday is due to the presence of an Elevated Mixed Layer (EML) or a “cap”.  This is something you’ll hear a lot about from now until the cool season returns.  The EML/cap is a hot and dry air layer that forms over the hot Mexican Plateau and Texas Big Bend Country.  This layer is pulled northeast by winds aloft.  Since the air is warm and dry, it does not sink, but moves vertically as the terrain drops out from below.  Below the EML/cap a thin, but increasingly deep layer of warm moist air is found.  Where the EML/cap meets/leaves the surface is called the “dryline”.  East of the dryline, its warm, humid and frequently cloudy.  West of the dryline it can be hot, clear, dusty and dry.  The dryline can act as a “front” forcing warm moist air (where deep enough) up along it’s edge into strong to severe storms.  These dryline storms out in KS/OK/NE are frequently the ones you see the storm chasers snapping spectacular photos of.  For us, we’ll be dealing with the northern edge of the EML/cap aloft, which will be south of the surface warm front.  The warm front itself provides the “lift” needed to generate storms and rain.  South of the front, there can be nothing to assist the “lift” needed.

Elevated Mixed Layer Edge

This week, the air mass south of the warm front and well east of the dryline (our region) will be warm and humid, but the EML/cap may be too strong to allow the warm moist air to break the “lid” established by the EML/cap. What will be needed is a wave aloft to pull upward on the warm layer to cool/weaken it aloft or a complex of storms to generate a strong cool outflow boundary (a weak mini-“front”) to produce the extra lift from the ground to break the cap.  Typically the cap is strongest west/south and weaker north/east and the western district is more at the mercy of this process.

CROSS SECTION-CAP

Severe weather on Wednesday is rated lower in probability as it is more conditional, based on how strong the cap may be, where the warm front eventually winds up, how cloudy the warm sector is and the strength of any incoming waves aloft or where thunderstorm outflow boundaries are at the surface.

Thursday’s severe outlook is higher and more certain due to the fact the main system aloft and cold front are expected to move through.  Some sort of squall line looks likely, but there are still timing issues as to when the cold front moves through, for example.  Currently, the eastern district is more in line for a greater severe threat because the storms look to develop near or on top of the western district and then intensify/spread eastward. Should this scenario be slowed 6 hours, that threat might be shifted west to center on the KC area, while should it be sped up 6 hours, the west might be cleared from the risk while the storms form over the STL area and expand/intensify into IL.  Four days out, and a lot can and will change; though compared to yesterday, there has been a slight slowing/westward shift.

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The main thing to keep in mind is there is a likelihood of severe weather somewhere in/near the district this week.   Right now the east has a better overall probability of seeing severe weather and rain as this could be one of those situations where the west misses the action, storms form south of the area Tuesday, too capped to produce any rain/storms Wednesday and storms form east of the area Thursday.  That’s a a frequent pattern whereby an active wet week turns into a damp, quiet, cloudy week with lots of drizzle.  The bottom line is everyone-west and east-need to be severe weather aware this week just in case, its too early to rule out any possible scenario.

Rainfall:

Subtropical high pressure is becoming established over the area around southern Mexico.  That high will build north to the latitude of Baja California/northern Mexico/the Gulf of Mexico and Florida in the next 4 to 5 weeks.  in 6-10 weeks time, that high becomes the summertime ‘heatwave’ high pressure dome which dictates the thunderstorm track for us here in the Midwest/eastern Plains.  It typically centers over the hot Desert Southwest and them moves to near the 4-corners in August.   That’s a good position as it directs nightly storm clusters forming off the High Plains/Front Range southeastward into our region giving (the western district) most of it’s yearly rains.

SUMMERTIME MCS

If drought persists in the central/southern Plains, that area may become “hottest” and the high may center further east/north over the Panhandles/OK or Kansas. That would be bad news for us as it would spell a hot and mostly dry summer as rain would be directed well north and east of the region.

SUMMERTIME MCS-DROUGHT

That’s why it’s important we get some rain to the drought areas in the next 1-2 months.  As of the last update last week, dry conditions are established from KC west and south with drought as close as Emporia KS. Drought worsens as you head southwest from there and deeper into KS/OK/TX. The rains of April 1/2 are not included in this graphic and they may be enough to keep the dryness held in check another week, but we’ll need a SURPLUS of rain in the weeks to come to really beat back the edges of the drought and also to reduce the intensity at the core of the southern Plains drought region.

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This next week’s precipitation outlook is not all that promising with 7-day rains of less than 1″ over the dry/drought areas and totals of 1/4″ to 1/2″ for the core of the drought zone. Some of this is related to the more scattered/conditional rains discussed above in the severe weather section. Eastern areas, which have had plenty (and in some cases too much) of rain continue to get soaked with 1.5″ to 3″ of rainfall. Flooding is becoming a concern here.

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The longer range CFS model holds out hope for a wetter last three weeks of April and a wetter first three weeks of May, blues and purples are surplus rains while greens/browns and reds are deficits.  The sometimes too optimistic CFS targets the core of the drought areas from CA to KS/OK with heavy rains between now and May 20th.

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Week In Review:

Despite the late week chill, April has been running mild over all of the US except the NW and NE corners:

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Springtime rain and thunderstorms were the main theme, with rains arriving in the west and strong thunderstorms in the east.  Colder weather rounded out the week with frosty weather west Saturday morning and the threat of frost east Sunday morning.

On the the morning of April 2, showers and thunderstorms arrived in the KC area with some much needed rainfall.  There were no issues with severe weather.

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Redevelopment of isolated thunderstorms that evening brought a very strong storm through the SE Missouri Ozarks with 3″ hail near Potosi, and a warning being issued for St. Francois County, MO.

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The most severe weather was focused well west and south of the region with reported tornadoes in SW MO/SE KS.  This radar image shows a storm with a reported tornado northwest of Joplin, MO.  Notice the distinct hook echo look to the standard image.  The right side image is a doppler storm relative velocity image.  It shows inbound (toward the radar) winds in blue and outbound (away from the radar) winds in red.  The area where the deep blues and deep reds are close shows strong rotation, and it’s very close to the “hook”.  Remember even this close to the radar, the beam is scanning in the lower cloud layer, so it doesn’t always mean a tornado is on the ground –but in this case storm spotters and law enforcement had confirmed a tornado on the ground. Tornado warnings are issued when storms show rotational signatures as those signatures mean tornadoes can occur at any time (warnings may state “radar indicated tornado”) so always remember to take cover if you are in a tornado warning – whether or not an actual tornado has been observed.  Often times tornadoes begin away from areas where they can be observed and by the time they are observed, it may already be to late to take cover if you’re in the path.

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The other story was the rain. Widespread significant rains fell, the heaviest in the east:

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As discussed last week, warm season rains are much less uniform in nature and it is clear to see localized bands of heavy rains and localized areas which managed to miss the tracks of showers and storms.

The storm was followed by cold weather late week with Saturday morning lows in the 20s away from major metropolitan areas in the west.

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Frost Advisories were issued Sat Night/Sun for parts of SEMO/S IL, but an increase in high clouds kept temperatures a little warmer.

Global Tropics:

Last week we discussed Super Typhoon Maysak (04W) which was quite strong over the southern reaches of the NW Pacific.  Here are a few images taken from the International Space Station as it flew over the Super Typhoon.

Maysak 01 Maysak 02

Maysak (04W) weakened dramatically during the week and made landfall over Luzon, Philippines as a weak tropical storm. It will now slowly dissipate over the South China Sea as it gets caught up in cold northeasterly winds blowing off mainland China.

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Another system, a weak tropical storm (Haishen/05W), formed near the equator in the NW Pacific, but did not persist long, due to strong wind shear aloft.  The satellite image below shows one lone thunderstorm complex over the eastern side of the center. The rest of the system was a swirl of low and mid level clouds.

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It is now meteorological autumn in the southern Hemisphere and we’re passing peak season for tropical cyclones in that hemisphere. There have been none this week but the southern Indian Ocean has two potential systems which may flare this week.  Both are in the SW portion of the basin and well away from land.  Tropical Disturbance 13 and Tropical Depression 14.  TD 14 is moving southeast toward the Australian zone and if it reaches tropical storm intensity before crossing it would be named “Ikola” a name submitted by Tanzania. TD 13 will be named “Joalane” .  Neither system is expected to threaten land, although TD13 will be watched for any impacts on the Reunion Islands east of Madagascar.

*Update: TD 14 was upgraded to Moderate Tropical Storm Ikola by RMSC Reunion at 1 PM Sunday, so TD13 would carry the name “Joalane” should it develop further. The U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center does not issue advisories or number tropical cyclones below tropical-storm force in the SW Indian Ocean and Ikola was still designated investigation area “93S” with a medium chance at development at the the time of this writing.  Ikola would be designated “21S” unless JTWC began issuing advisories on TD13 (Investigation area “91S”) first, in which case it would be numbered “22S”.

SOUTH_IO

 

 

 

 

Warm temperatures will cool toward seasonal averages this week with a few rain chances. In review: Drought and fire concerns west, a week of heavy rains east.

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It will be another mostly quiet week for the western district with only a dwindling chance for rain while the eastern district sees a few rain chances, but nothing like this past week.  Our unseasonably warm conditions will ease back toward seasonal levels for mid March (highs in the mid 50s/lows in the 30s), after all it is still astronomical winter until 5:45 PM this Friday.   Drought and fire weather concerns are the main threats in the west as we begin the week.

Today and Monday’s biggest concerns will be warm dry air and fire weather threats for the western district and westward into the Plains.  Red Flag (Fire Weather) Warnings are up for a large area from W IA and NW MO through large parts of KS/NE and OK.  The combination of warm temperatures, very low afternoon humidity, long term drought, lack of rainfall, the season (dormant or dead vegetation) and gusty winds will create extremely critical fire weather conditions.  That means any fire could quickly grow out of control.

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Highs today and Monday will warm to the 70s and even some 80s.

Looking ahead, the jet stream, up near the US/CN border drops back south this week as a large polar low drops south to Hudson’s Bay.  We also see the NW CN/AK upper ridge try to begin to get its act together once again.  At lower latitudes, the subtropical high weakens and retreats southward into the Caribbean and tropical east Pacific.  This pattern will bring renewed cold to New England (and possibly more snow) and more seasonable temperatures for us.  There are some indications present that we may see at least one more resurgence of our Feb/early March pattern later this month..meaning a return to below average temperatures toward the end of the month. Too early to do garden work just yet.

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Let’s track the air masses this next week.  The warmth subsides, shifts south and then returns late week before fading again next Sunday.  The midweek blob of blue is where the model sees clouds and rain.

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In terms of rain, most stays south of the western district, with better chances east.  The Canadian model is alone in bringing widespread wetting rains to the west. The eastern district is more prone to being in the line of fire for more rain if these systems track further north than indicated today.

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Week in Review:

Heavy rain was the big story over the eastern district as a moist gulf storm system passed by to the south.  Take a look at this view of the radar midweek showing heavy rains from OK to the Ohio Valley. This system remained in place into Friday and Saturday when the rains eventually faded away.

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Here’s a look at the gridded rainfall forecast issued as the event began.  2-3″ of rain were predicted for SEMO/SW IL with a sharp cutoff to the northwest.

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Here’s the radar estimated total rains. Not too bad in comparison.  The orange totals are around 3″ with the yellow orange 1-2″ and greens less than 1″.

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When the system was done, the contrast in the percent of average rain to mid month was stark.  The western district has received 0 to 5% or little or no moisture all month.  Kansas City has had no measurable rain this month.  Th eastern district has seen precipitation from 90% (parts of STL) to 200% of average (SEMO/SW IL) thanks to the snows and now the rain.

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The multi-year dryness/drought which has never really retreated out of the Plains since 2012 is on the move again and is expanding north to include the western district.  Oklahoma and Texas continue to be the core area of drought east of the Rockies and an area of drought over the Northern Plains is heading south to join with the Southern Plains drought region.  If things don’t change soon, we’ll have an unbroken corridor of dryness and drought from the Canadian to Mexican borders.  Not good situation to be in for the Plains as planting season rapidly approaches and this can have implications into our summertime pattern (excessive heat and worsening drought feeding back).  See the post a few weeks ago for more information on that.

2015-03-14-1212-DROUGHT

 

After several weeks talking about record cold, it was a nice change to have Springlike temperatures in place last week.  Highs in the 70s were common in the western district with clouds and rain limiting temperatures east.  Here are late afternoon readings Wednesday and Thursday.  Warmth was greatest where sunshine, warm air aloft and warm downslope winds concentrated over W KS/NE and SD.

2015-03-11-1616_SFCTEMP 2015-03-12-1618_SFCTEMP

 

Severe weather has been very quiet as well. Here’s the Storm Prediction center tornado count for 2015 as of March 14.  We’re running well below average for this early point in the year. This has been due in part to sustained cold into early March and then a lack of a strong north to south temperature gradient and unfavorable upper level flow more recently.

2015-03-15-0928-2015TORCOUNT

2014, 2013 and 2012 were all below average years for tornadoes in the U.S.   The last above average year was in 2011.  In mid March, typically the sever weather threat remains from the Red River Valley to the Southeast with a small increase northward into our area.

2015-03-15-0928-SEVERE_PROB

 

In the southern hemisphere, where it is the equivalent of mid September for us, the warm ocean waters have fueled a handful of tropical cyclones (the southern hemisphere equivalent of tropical storms, hurricanes and typhoons). TC Haliba developed east of Madagascar in the southwest Indian Ocean and tracked southeast over open water.  TC Olwyn formed over the Southern Indian Ocean south of Indonesia and NW of Western Australia and it tracked southward, making landfall and running inland east of Perth.  TC Nathan took shape in the Coral Sea northeast of Queensland and looped around just off the coast.  A rare subtropical storm Cari, formed off the coast of Brazil the southern Atlantic before becoming a gale low in the far south Atlantic Ocean.  The big news was with TC Pam, which formed east of Papua New Guinea and strengthened into a Category 5 (on the Australian/South Pacific scale) tropical cyclone.  It devastated the  island of Vanuatu with the eye tracking right overhead.  The Northwest Pacific also has an early season tropical storm which passed near Guam.  The map below shows the formation and track of each of these tropical systems.  Most formed over the very warm waters (reds, oranges browns) near and south of the equator.  Tropical cyclones usually need water temperatures of 26C (yellow) on this map to develop and continue. ST Cari, off of Brazil, formed right on the edge of this threshold.

2015-03-15-0705-TCSSTA

 

This chart is the same, but shows the sea surface temperature anomaly, or difference from average. You’ll notice that all of these systems formed over or near patches of warmer than average waters, especially of note is the patch off Southern Brazil, no doubt helping this rare system to form.

2015-03-15-0705-TCSSTA-WTC

 

Here are some images of several of these tropical cyclones at or near peak intensity.  (Click to make them more readable).  You’ll note how Pam has a small and well defined eye, one of the hallmarks of an intense tropical cyclone and that the eye is tracking very near or over the small island groups.

20150311_1745_goes13_x_vis1km_high_50QCARI_40kts-1000mb-290S-460W_100pc 20150313_0601_mtsat-2_x_vis2km_17PPAM_140kts-918mb-159S-1693E_100pc 20150313_0900_goes15_x_ir1km_17PPAM_145kts-914mb-169S-1689E_100pc 20150312_0932_mtsat-2_x_vis2km_19SOLWYN_65kts-974mb-213S-1141E_100pc20150315_0232_mtsat-2_x_vis1km_18PNATHAN_45kts-989mb-134S-1485E_100pc

 

 

We’ll have an updated post out next weekend.