KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s nice to be back from vacation and getting back at things today. When I left, one of my last blogs was something has to change. Well, some things sort of changed. It was in reference to the generally dry conditions that were in the region. Over the past 10 days or so, many areas have gotten rains and thunderstorms. The rain was very much needed and some places have seen well over 5 inches worth of moisture. Some are certainly in need of more moisture and the chances will be around off and on during the week, so at least the chances are there.
The weather overall though is a little weird. Storms that form are generally moving from the east to the west, as opposed to the more traditional west-to-east movement of things, or perhaps southwest to northeast. There is a good reason why this is happening.
Kansas City Forecast:
Today: Mostly sunny, and warm again. Highs into the upper 80s. Once again, some scattered storms may bubble up later today into early this evening before fading. The activity will be scattered around the region.
Tonight: Clear and pleasant with lows in the 60s.
Tomorrow: About the same really. A slightly lower chance for any one spot to get rain however. Highs into the upper 80s.
Wednesday: Generally about the same, although the better rain chances may be more in the overnight hours, especially on the Missouri side. Highs well into the upper 80s.
So let’s start with the rain. As I mentioned earlier, things needed to change in late May. It was pretty dry out there. For some areas (especially on the east and south side of the metro), it was way too dry for this time of the year when getting needed rain is critical heading towards the summer months.
So I did a bit of research. Thanks to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, I dug up these rainfall maps from the 25th of May (the last blog) to this morning, and down towards the Ozarks where things are really getting dry. Notice they have had little rainfall, but there was some isolated rains yesterday.
The drought report continues to show and expansion of drought conditions on the Missouri side with relief on the Kansas side west of the region.
In the last two week on the Kansas side, the pattern has been favorable for showers/storms to soak the western Plains especially.
That’s real good rains out there. Also notice the bigger rains in a chunk of eastern Kansas.
So what has been happening, and why are things sort of messed up when it comes to more traditional moving rains. How has Kansas done so well with rain out west when the drought was the main issue (it still is but it’s getting better)?
The reason is the sort of wonky and persistent upper-level pattern that we’ve been in and basically it comes down to two different types of blocking patterns. The Omega block and the Rex block. For about a week or so before I left, we were in a general Omega block pattern. This sort of allows the jet stream aloft to more or less look like the Greek letter Omega. Here is a rough idea of what that looks like:
For the last five or so days, we’ve seen this block try to transition into another type of block called the Rex block. In actuality, we’re sort of in between right now.
Now take a look at the forecast flow for Thursday.
That leads to slow-moving systems.
But why the weird-moving rains? Well remember the showers and storms typically move where the mid-level winds are blowing and when we have upper-level highs up across the northern Plains region. This leads to a lot of east-to-west flow towards the Interstate 70 corridor region.
So as storms bubble up, they generally move from the east to the west or from the southeast to the northwest. They also get some help from various outflows that come out of the storms to help to generate new storms.
This isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s a general idea of why the rains have been moving in a weirder direction compared to something more typical. This pattern has also favored smoke to waft in aloft from eastern Canada as well.
It’s also a BIG reason why it’s finally started raining more in western and central Kansas. The flow there is more east to west and that allows the air to run up the slopes of the western Plains generating better rainfall out there too!
In the big picture of things, there are some signs this may start changing early next week. The GFS in particular would have this change where a sort of “May-like” pattern develops for a few days with attendant severe weather risks in the Plains region. It’s something that May never really cranked out for the most part in Missouri or Kansas aside from a few exceptions.
By the way, remember Mawar, that powerful Pacific Typhoon? There are seeds of this change from that typhoon. When it recurved through the northern Pacific Ocean, it helped to strengthen the northern Pacific jet stream.
Hopefully we can avoid the severe weather risks locally at least and get the needed rains.
Also of note is the large scale heat dome that both models are generating in the Plains towards the start of astronomical summer. We’ll see about that potential next week though.
OK that’s it. Not bad for a blog on the first day back from vacation. I have my golf league tomorrow, so no blog. Next update on the the blog will be on Wednesday.
The feature photo is from Vicki Anderson Dolt of the full “Strawberry” moon out there this past weekend.