Joe’s Weather Blog: Hopeful signs for next week’s rain (SAT-8/11)

A ton of smoke in the skies today. Came in yesterday and while we’ve been fighting this for weeks now (every so often) this time it’s out there and very prevalent. You can really see it in the sunrises and sunsets. Also of note is that we’re actually seeing a 10-30% reduction in the visibility. Typically it’s 10 miles or more…yesterday and today it’s been in the 7-9 mile range. That aspect of the smokey air doesn’t happen all that often around these parts. Also of note was a twitter note yesterday that some noticed a smokey smell to the air and the potential of even a little falling ash in NE KS. This is coming about because of a combination of fires in western Canada and the western US. More on this in the discussion.


Tonight: Good night for watching the Perseids. Clear skies and pleasant with lows in the mid-upper 60s

Sunday: Mostly sunny and seasonable with highs around 90°

Monday: Partly cloudy and hot with highs near 90°


We’ll start with the morning satellite picture as skies looked clear but in reality there was and is a ton of smoke in our skies. The best time to see this smoke is during the first and last few visible satellite pictures of the day/evening. As the sun rises it illuminates the smoke clearly.

It’s so prevalent and there is still so much more to the north of year streaming into the region today.

Again a combination of western US smoke and also Canadian smoke has created this situation.

We’ll have this issue into Monday (although it should be thinner later tomorrow into Monday I think.

There are lots of wildfires out there again…not much has changed and the ones out west are being battled to some success and for others are uncontained and raging. Regardless a lot of smoke is still pouring into the atmosphere in the US and in Canada. As that smoke goes higher up in the air…it gets carried by the winds at various levels of the atmosphere.

In the US region there are currently 1.5 million+ acres on fire.

As that the more heat the fire generates (bigger it gets usually) the stronger the air rising above that fire gets…the higher the smoke goes into the atmosphere. Also in many cases the fires are at higher elevations to begin with…so it’s got a 1-2 mile up head start.

Then that smoke is carried away in time. The map below shows the current winds at around 10,000 or so…you can notice the wind flow

Note the circle towards NE/SD. That is the center of a ridge. Note how the winds come from the north to the south from southern Canada towards KC. That’s why the smoke has been moving in from MN these last 36 hours.

IF we get some lighter rains later Monday or Monday night…it may leave some big ole broan splotches on your car as the rain will pick up the smoke in the air as it falls down…sort of like dirty rain!


About that rain.

I wrote a considerably long blog about this yesterday and really don’t want to re-write the same thing today. The data today won’t really be helpful except that it shows, essentially, no real change in the expected set up.

  1. Some sort of upper level low is going to be waddling around Kansas…see it in the following map? This will be cut-off from the main jet stream way up towards Canada…that’s where the best “flow” is…where the weather is moving along in better fashion in a sense. The map below shows the set-up around 18,000 feet up.

On the map above…and I know they’re difficult to see are the wind arrows showing the flow direction and the speed (tougher to see). Note how the flow in the Plains is counter-clockwise around the upper level low…also of note is that the winds at that altitude are blowing from the SW>NE…sort of up the I-35 corridor towards KC.

2) Whatever disturbances are rotating around the main upper level low…will rotate from the SW>NE on the front half of that thing. So what develops towards Wichita…or SE KS or north central OK will rotate towards our region. Will we get a direct hit with locally heavy rains? Will we get weakened versions of the rain? Will one come up in the heat of the afternoon and enhance thunderstorms for us with more heavy rains…these are all questions that won’t be figured out till Tuesday really…but again it’s the set-up right now that I’m focused on.

3) Whatever disturbance comes up towards the area on Tuesday (especially) will have a ton of saturated atmosphere to work with. In other words the atmosphere will be loaded with moisture and IF the future wave that doesn’t exist till later Monday is vigorous enough…there should be some good downpours with this

4) Ah yes…predicting things that don’t exist. Not only are we trying to do this for Tuesday…but we’re trying to do this for something that won’t exist till later Monday. These disturbances won’t be modeled correctly till the day of the rain but again the set-up screams that we’re setting up for decent rain IF and ONLY IF we get these disturbances to track correctly…

5) That’s the rub…IF the upper level low is a bit farther west…or even farther east…the disturbances rotating around the upper level low will be directed in different places and NOT necessarily aimed towards the KC area. That may mean another part of the region gets the better rains…I just don’t know yet.

6) So with all that said…the potential continues to be for 1-2″ of rain with some higher amounts possible in parts of the viewing area…exactly who remains to be seen. On average my thoughts are for 1/3″ to 1 1/4″ for more than a few of us for a change…with these baby disturbances though there will be losers in the rain total scenario. 

7) Best chances appear to be Tuesday morning>Lunch then somewhat drier afterwards. Obviously subject to change.

8) There will be dry slots associated with this upper level low as well…typically behind the rotating waves. So there may be breaks of sunshine as well in the mix. I’m almost tempted to wonder IF there may be some weird spinning storms with this as well if the timing plays out correctly…perhaps more towards the IA border?

The picture for the blog was taken yesterday on our towercam as it shows the smokey sunset rather vividly.


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