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Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Forecast….

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It’s hot…and you’re going to need a pool!  Okay…had to get that one out of my system!  But seriously, it hit 97º today…the hottest so far this year…and we’re now in a weather pattern that should start giving us some 100º heat very soon.

In fact, the newest 10 day 500 millibar pattern for both the GFS and the European Models look essentially the same…with a developing blocking ridge that will take the storm track up and over us…

This pattern is something we usually do not see in June. Coupled with very dry soil conditions…and slowly but surely the air gets into a hot weather “rhythm” where one hot day feeds the next…and before you know it…the heat starts to look like it’ll never break down.  In fact…if you look carefully at the maps above, you’ll notice that the vortex S.E. of Hudson Bay is surrounded by warm air…so it will slowly weaken and drift into the northern Atlantic.  Similarly the flow pattern across the Pacific will weaken and help build the ridge of high pressure even more.  What is a little concerning is that this pattern look similar to the “loading pattern” for the hot dry summer of 1980:

The map above depicts the mean 500 mb pattern centered on June of 1980….notice the position of the ridge is quite similar to our current flow.  Now look at the next map centered on July:

And the next one centered on August:

If you find the 588 iso-height (the black line labeled 588) you will notice how the ridge builds farther and farther north each time period…to the point it blocked all Pacific fronts…and forced the storm track so far up along the Canadian border that the heat wave became impenetrable. I was on the air in Oklahoma City that summer and it was getting a little frightening because the drought was so bad there was water rationing almost all summer long.  Here in Kansas City we had 17 days over 100º…most of which occurred during the month of July.  The heat waves of the 1930s still put 1980 to shame…but 1980 was a rough summer…and we might be headed toward something similar if our current pattern strengthens.

The dry conditions certainly make a very hot dry summer ahead very possible.  The one thing we had in 1980…that we do not have now…a very active sun.

That year we had a number of X-class flares in the spring…and a very active flare pattern reduces the amount of cosmic dust that settles onto the planet…which has proven to be important in cloud formation. With a less active sun…more dust floats in from outer space…and incremental increases in global cloud cover reduces global temperatures thanks to increased albedo (reflection of incoming solar radiation…back out into space).

There are a number of X-factors that can create a hot dry summer…and for now…at least some of those factors look to be coming together in this part of the world….let’s hope it breaks down and we get some rain…and relief.

Our next chance for storms on Wednesday evening into Thursday will be a test case. If that one fizzles…we’re going to be a hunk hunka burning piece of toast!

~Mike

 


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