Joe’s Weather Blog: Oh my…the wind! (THU-2/18)

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Good afternoon and thanks for stopping by and reading the weather blog today. I realize most of you are outside and enjoying this almost record warmth. As of the 2PM hour temperatures are 70-75° in the region. The price we’re paying though (firefighters are rather busy) is that the winds are cranking away. The highest wind gust through 2PM was 48 MPH at Olathe-Industrial Airport near the Gardner area. Mostly all airports are reporting winds of 40-50 MPH in gusts.

Also big thanks to the folks out in Higginsville today. Talked to a bunch of farmer and others with agricultural concerns. Good group and they’re worried about another wet spring in the region. While mostly there were timely rains last summer..they had a devil of a time getting crops in the ground last spring because of the overly saturated conditions. Hopefully they’ll be happier this spring when the rains come again.

20160218_111436

Forecast:

Tonight: Fair and WINDY. Winds may continue in the 30-40 MPH range in gusts overnight as a screaming low-level jet stream continues to churn up the atmosphere. With the south winds though temperatures won’t be dropping much…probably into the 47-53° range.

Friday: A weak front (wind shift) really will move through the area. Temperatures may not be as warm as today but we should be in the general vicinity. Highs should be close to 70° with quite a bit of sunshine. Winds tomorrow will not be AS gusty…but still be from the west at 15-30 MPH.

Saturday: More or less the same type of day. Mild for February with highs around 70° however the winds will be much lighter

Discussion:

Well the big story today as expected has been the wind and the warmth. At 3PM the KCI temperature was 73° with the record being 74° set back in 1930. Let’s see what happens in the next 2 hours…tying that record would not surprise me.

The winds are screaming though and that has creating dangerous fire conditions because of the dry ground conditions…this is one of the negatives without getting the winter snows this year…we’re going to be more prone to this. There is a lot of dormant and/or dead vegetation out there and that has created this.

These fires are going to be tough to put out. Thankfully they appear to be mostly in rural areas without any residences or businesses but it’s concerning and will stay concerning through the evening hours.

While breezy, the winds tomorrow won’t be as fierce.

I sent this tweet out after the 2PM obs came in…the wind gust highs are through that hour…

So what is causing the strong winds…well if we simply look at the surface weather map…we have a large change of pressure (black lines are the isobars) between a rather decent high pressure towards New York and lower pressure towards the northwestern Plains and eastern MT

pmsl

Note all the black lines crossing the eastern Plains…that is what we call a tight pressure gradient…that creates stronger winds!

What will gradually happen over the next 18 hours is that the strongest winds will be shifting eastwards towards the OH Valley area…and while it will still be breezy tomorrow AM…the winds will drop off nicely later in the day.

Aloft the winds are cranking away as well. Let’s go a few thousand feet off the ground…here is a look at the wind speeds…

displayMod.php

These winds are in knots…so 40 knots is about 45 MPH

Now take a look at the same level for Friday afternoon…

eta33hr_925_wnd

Notice where the strongest winds shift to by Friday…off towards the eastern Great Lakes…notice over KC the winds above us are considerably lighter.

So as a meteorologist or weather geek…you can derive that the winds tomorrow will be much less than what were seeing out there today.

Also note the surface weather map for tomorrow afternoon off the NAM model…notice that the black lines (isobars) which help us see the atmospheric pressure) are fewer and much farther apart in the local area compared tot he maps I showed you earlier.

displayMod.php

See where the isobars are a bit more tightly spaced? Up towards the northern Plains and into the Lakes region

What is interesting is that despite a wind shift tomorrow…the air aloft (while cooler) is not going to be overly cold for FEB. This air is also coming downslope from the western Plains.

Downsloping winds, combined with ample sunshine and dry air…can still really warm things up. They’re a somewhat common occurrence later in the winter and spring season and typically you warm up rather well. The air actually blows down the terrain. Just as an example…the elevation out in Goodland, KS is close to 3700 feet. The elevation of North Platte, NE is around 2800 feet while the elevation of KCI airport is around 1000 feet. So the air blowing from the west to the east comes down about 2000′ or so. When air sinks it compresses and warms up to the tune of around 6°/1000 feet. So you can see how downsloping air has the potential of warming things up nicely.

Here is a graphic via USA Today showing the idea…although it’s more focused towards the mountain regions where this downsloping can be even more dramatic obviously.

courtesy USA Today

You don’t necessarily need big mountains for this same effect. It also happens in other parts of the country without the big mountain areas…

Over the next several days we’ll see a slow cool down of the atmosphere and a gradual return towards a more seasonable temperature set up in the region. Today the temperatures a few thousand feet above us are closer to about 60°…by Monday they’ll be closer to about 36° so obviously things will be cooling down but it’s important to note that at least through the next 7 days…there isn’t any arctic air dropping southwards.

Interesting to note the large differences between the model guidance in 10 days. The GFS model has arctic air poised to drop into the region.

gfs_t850a_noram_41

These are the forecasted anomalies at around 5000 feet or so up in the atmosphere…notice the “barney” purple showing up in southern Canada and the northern US. That is forecasted from this one model to drop southwards. Map valid for 6AM Sunday the 28th

Again just one model…the ensemble runs of that one model…show this idea…

gefs_t850a_noram_41

Valid for FEB 28th at 6AM…notice the core of the cold is farther towards the NE of the region…whatever we get into wouldn’t have as much bite per this model

The EURO model has this idea…and basically laughs at the above modeling.

ecm_t850_anom_conus_11

The arctic air is where? Maps is valid for the same time as the maps above…FEB 28th at 6AM

I lean towards a less “arctic” solution and a milder potential to finish off the month.

What ALL the maps also tell me is that things will remain rather dry in the region for the foreseeable future. I see no significant rain or snow storms on the horizon through FEB…there will be various clippers coming through though so that means temperatures will be on a bit of a roller coaster next week and into next weekend.

That’s it for today…I’ll get another blog out tomorrow afternoon. Enjoy the nice weather!

Joe

 

 

 

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