16 September 2002
Leaves that are green

The seasons in Oklahoma pay little heed to the calendar dates or, for that matter, to the position of the earth from which those dates are putatively derived. Still, it's possible to figure out the line of demarcation between one season and the next, and the task is easiest in the fall: take one day in the upper 90s (Friday), a day of heavy rain and thunderstorms (Saturday), a placid day about twenty degrees cooler than it's been (Sunday), and the pattern is set. It will still get hot from time to time between now and November, but it won't be the sort of I'm-gonna-kill-something heat that beats on us during July and August.

However, the one most recognizable feature of fall, the evolution of foliage from green to orange to lawn rakings, won't kick in for another month yet.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:59 AM)
23 September 2002
Turning another corner

Fall arrived this year with a full moon and temperatures uncharacteristically temperate. It won't stay that way, of course, but for now, these are among the nicest days Oklahoma has to offer. (I mention this in case DavidMSC is snowbound.)

Now comes the hard part: to get through some truly hellish weeks at 42nd and Treadmill and some truly stupid campaign rhetoric leading up to November.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:33 AM)
8 October 2002
In the early morning rain

This time of year, the sun doesn't come up until after seven-thirty, so there are a lot of poor souls wending their way to work, sliding along pavement just wet enough to confuse their tires. Ribbons of roads, seemingly stretched to their limits, shine eerily under the street lights. It's too warm for a jacket, too cool for summer gear. At the bus stop, umbrellas are conspicuous by their absence.

Later today, the rain will pick up, and so will the sense of urgency about it all. Swollen rivers in the northern part of the state will become more so. The sun may make a cameo appearance this afternoon, but no one is counting on it.

A fairly ordinary fall day in Oklahoma, in other words, and perhaps cherishable for its very plainness. Not everything in life has to make your synapses sizzle.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:22 AM)
15 October 2002
A lot like winter

They're not saying so, but what we have here is a mid-January weather pattern with mid-November temperatures. It's a pattern we all know: high pressure settles nearby, winds remain northerly, and so-called "normal" temperatures are missed by about 10 degrees Fahrenheit, for a week and a half, maybe two weeks in a row. It's not actually freezing — yet — but it's not out of the question either. (Mid-October 2000 brought us three consecutive freezes at night, during a period where the official normal low is around 50, and then the daily highs rebounded into the 80s.)

I'm not actually complaining, though. Given the choice, I'd rather have a semblance of winter than winter itself.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:55 AM)
25 October 2002
Chill thoroughly

Yesterday, while the sky was weeping upon us, the temperature managed to creep up only to 44 degrees Fahrenheit, perhaps not the lowest daily maximum in the history of the universe, but by a considerable margin the lowest recorded on this date in Oklahoma City since formal record-keeping began in the late 19th century. During the coldest week of the year — normally the third week of January — the "normal" daily high is, um, 45.

Freakish weather is not news in Oklahoma, but I am sure that there's some homegrown Huffington out there who will blame it on all those Ford Expeditions and Chevy Suburbans in the parking lot.

(Dear Arianna: Yes, I still think you're a Major Babe, but you're way off base on this one, and I'm willing to bet you don't drive around town in a Hyundai Elantra.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:19 AM)
4 November 2002
Scraping by

Today marks the official opening of Windshield Ice Removal Season, which I find decidedly annoying, since the normal low temperature for this date is 44 degrees Fahrenheit, substantially above the freezing point. Then again, temperatures have been below normal for nearly a month — this October was tied for the third coldest on record — so, if anything, I am surprised it took this long.

I realize that there are some people who absolutely delight in this stuff. I am not one of them.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:55 AM)
25 November 2002
And the freezer is open

Temperatures pushed into the 70s Saturday, and that was the end of that. This morning, just about the entire state is below freezing, and it won't get much above that for most of this week. Mercifully, it's actually colder than last week's projections, which means that the freezing rain with which we were threatened will likely fall as snow, which is a lot less of an annoyance, especially if you have to drive to work.

(Typical normal range for this week: low 34, high 55.)

What I want to know, though, is whether gas prices will pick up again by Thursday. Right now, nonbranded outlets are vending 87-octane unleaded for a measly $1.119 — perhaps less in other parts of the metro area — and I have an 800-mile trip scheduled for later this week.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:10 AM)
2 December 2002
Etched in the darkness

Half an hour before dawn. A sliver of moon hangs unsteadily above; only the vaguest hint of sunlight peeks over the horizon. The trees offer their bare limbs in supplication. The winds are hushed; only the occasional motor vehicle disturbs the silence.

Would that every winter's day began this way.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:52 AM)
3 December 2002
A touch of frost

We dodged last week's threatened snow and ice. We will not be so fortunate this week.

I still contend that the stories of immense heat in Hell are apocryphal; what is ordered up by the minions of Lucifer from the main tower at One Brimstone Centre is endless freezing rain, and the damned are always driving to work.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:19 AM)
4 December 2002
Winter Wonderland and other myths

The weather outside is frightful. We didn't get a whole lot of snow, but we compensated by getting enough ice to serve the nation's bartenders through July. To the north and west, that ice is covered with four to seven inches of snow. About 27,000 people statewide are freezing in the dark.

I think I'll go knock on neighborhood doors and ask people to run their SUVs a few extra minutes today.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:17 AM)
6 December 2002
The iceman stayeth

The cloud cover that was supposed to bug out yesterday hung around until midnight, so the promised warmup fizzled out short of the freezing mark, and this morning, with skies clearing, the mercury hid in the bottom of the thermometer and refused to show its face.

As ice storms go, this one was comparatively minor, though I'm sure the folks on the East Coast who were subsequently hit by it would argue that point. Local damage was relatively slight, most homes are back on the power grid, and I'm sure sales of Frozen Tundra Barbie will recover before long.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:03 AM)
12 December 2002
Clouds from both sides now

Monday: high 44, low 40, overcast.

Tuesday: high 45, low 40, overcast.

Wednesday: high 44, low 40, overcast.

Today it's supposed to rain.

I realize that this isn't the worst possible weather pattern for winter — nothing's likely to freeze at these temperatures — but it might be nice to see the sun once in a while, just to jog the old memory cells.

And the sunset, such as it is, has gotten to its earliest point (5:17 pm); from this point on, it gets later. (Sunrise is 7:30 am; the latest sunrise, around 7:40 am, will be around Boxing Day.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:58 AM)
24 December 2002
Drizzle, drizzle, fizzle

You want picturesque? Head northwest, where they got five and seven and nine inches of white and fluffy.

We got two in a hurry, and then the next ten or twelve bands fell as freezing drizzle, which makes for a lot more Maalox moments than Kodak. This system is supposed to move out today, but since none of the previous predictions were on the mark, I'm going to assume this one is wrong also.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:22 AM)
15 January 2003
Turning point

When, precisely, is the Dead of Winter? Where I live, you can make a case for this week. The 40-year average of temperatures bottoms out during this period (at 46 high, 26 low), then slowly turns upward. And contrary to most people's intuition, the sunrise gets as late as it ever does (7:40 am) this week. (The solstice is indeed the shortest day of the year, about nine hours and 45 minutes, but the sunset reaches its earliest point — 5:15 pm — in early December. I attribute this situation to the state's position near the far edge of the Central time zone.)

By these standards, spring is on the way: today's average high is 47 and the sunrise is at 7:39. Perhaps needless to say, it's supposed to snow tonight.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:14 AM)
24 January 2003
Utter chirplessness

During the winter, the resident birds serve as a sort of aural thermometer: when the temperature drops into the single digits Fahrenheit, as it did this morning, they keep their big beaks shut. If you're far enough out in the sticks, which I'm not at the moment, you think you can actually hear tree limbs freeze.

Closer in, the predominant sound is water running — either people are letting the faucets drip so that the pipes don't freeze, or the faucets (and everything else) are dripping because the pipes have already frozen.

Still, there's something peaceful about the whole scene. Or there would be, if I didn't have to drag myself off to work.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:32 AM)
6 February 2003
Snow is just a four-letter word

As I'm ducking into my car this morning, some doofus four or five doors down is spinning his wheels at a prodigious pace and getting nowhere.

What's annoying about this is that the snow has yet to fall; it's still (barely) above freezing and the rain let up an hour ago. Imagine how well this guy is going to drive once the white stuff settles in earnest.

Now multiply him by half a million, and you'll know why I get antsy about winter storms.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:59 AM)
13 February 2003
So it must be raindrops

It is indeed rare that we get an actual spring rain this early. A 120-degree change in the wind direction would mean, not a inch or so of rain, but nine or ten inches of snow — or worse. But here we are, nowhere near the freezing point, and there's even a chance of a thunderboomer before it's all over.

We've had 6.7 inches of snow this season, about two-thirds of an average winter here. While we're not getting it now, I'm going to flashback to a spring rain during an actual spring — specifically, last April, when I said this:

Start the clock when the first droplets fall, and this is what you will find:

The most inspiring moment during a spring rain is at approximately T plus two and a half minutes. This is the point where you learn if you're going to get a genuine downpour or just some random spattering. This is also the point where if you take a deep breath, you'll get a whiff of largely-desmogged air, faintly redolent of damp vegetation, a scent once considered by deodorant-soap manufacturers to be the Holy Grail until they discovered they could sell Strawberry-Daiquiri-with-Antibiotics in volumes even greater.

The least inspiring moment during a spring rain is at approximately T plus four and a half hours. This is the point when you (or at least I) start whining, "When is it gonna stop already?"


Permalink to this item (posted at 5:06 PM)
16 February 2003
Failure to prognosticate

Around 7 pm, what passes for nightlife around here begins, and everyone loads up the cars and heads out to the Interstates.

Where they promptly slid into the guardrail. The weather guys had said nothing whatsoever about freezing drizzle and snow flurries last night — wasn't any chance of precipitation at all, in fact — and right on time at 7 pm, with the temperature dropping just below freezing, out came the partygoers, wholly unprepared for the carnage awaiting them within the next couple of miles.

Well, okay, it wasn't that bad, in the sense that no one got killed or anything, but you can probably expect a higher proportion of tow-truck operators on your next Caribbean cruise.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:24 AM)
24 February 2003
Saturday night at the Equinox

Old Man Winter had been drinking. And between drinks, he was scowling at passersby and making notes on a three-by-five card, mumbling things I probably didn't want to hear and generally acting like a man who'd gone too long without a vacation.

I surmised that this wasn't the place to be, and I was halfway to the door when he spotted me. "So how'd you like that nor'easter?" he said.

I shrugged. "Wasn't there." Short, sweet, no details. Better that way.

But he wasn't giving up so easily. "Where you from, boy?"

I knew what was coming. "Saskatchewan, sir."

"Don't lie to me, boy," he growled. He looked at his card, looked at me, looked at his card again. "I know you. You run that damn stupid blerg, or whatever it's called. The one about the fruity pizzas." He spotted the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue at my side. "Well, Crustberries, or whatever your name is, since you're so goddamn anxious for spring, how'd you like a week in the deep freeze?"

"It is an honor I dream not of," I said truthfully.

"Spare me the cross-cultural references, Juliet. Get your fat ass home and get the snow shovel out of storage."

That was Saturday night. Sunday morning, right on schedule, the temperature dropped below freezing. It is not expected to recover until Thursday at the earliest.

Remind me to quit talking to this guy.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:28 AM)
27 February 2003
Enough with the ice already

After five days in the deep freeze, five days in which every conceivable form of ice except Italian and Vanilla has descended upon the city, I have decided that it is pointless to pay any further attention to the Weather Guys with their splashy graphics and their high-zoot equipment and their unctuous manner. I am weary of arcane jargon like "advection" and so-called "seven-day" forecasts which are revised and edited and revised again within seven hours. All I want to know is this:

When is this crap going to let up?

Until they can answer this simple question with some semblance of precision, I suggest they sit down, preferably off-camera, and enjoy a nice cup of STFU.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:55 AM)
5 March 2003
Forecast, schmorecast

The winds shifted around to the southwest yesterday, and the temperature climbed to a balmy 71 degrees.

Then the sun set, and the winds resumed their northerly angle of attack, and this morning it's snowing and the wind-chill factor is around 8.

It's enough to make you want to go buy a couple of SUVs and drive around town all day in second gear.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:49 AM)
13 March 2003
Sprung!

Equinox, schmequinox; you know it's spring in Oklahoma when God's own tympani roar out of the sky and the rain falls hard, sometimes in drops that cut through your very skin and sometimes in little clumps of ice the size of a golf ball. Add to this the inevitable electric light show, and you've got a storm to reckon with; the one we got late last night dumped an inch of rain in half an hour, and while I didn't see any ice balls with "Titleist" enameled on their dimpled surface, there were lots of chunks the size of M&M's. Peanut, not plain.

I celebrated the event by verifying that my air conditioner wasn't working — something one must do yearly, after all — and pulling Silvetti's dance number "Spring Rain" off the shelf where it's sat for the last twelve months or so. You know there's been a shift of some sort when I start playing the disco stuff again.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:04 AM)
27 March 2003
Technically, it blows

Any hawk making lazy circles in the sky today is likely to get caught in a downdraft and end up on somebody's windshield. Winds are running 30, 35 mph on a consistent basis, and will occasionally peak around 45 to 50. Great fun. The lawn-furniture alert has already been issued.

And then suddenly these winds, blowing from the south all day, will start blowing from the north and the temperature will drop from about 80 this afternoon to maybe 38 by tomorrow morning.

In other words, nothing especially unusual for March in Oklahoma.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:20 AM)
3 April 2003
Waiting for the storm

You know it's coming.

There's a tiny space between the clouds where the sun shines just as bright as can be, but otherwise the sky looks like something you scraped out of a garage-sale coffeepot. You listen for the thunder and reset your mental clock to register in seconds. As you round the corner, you catch just enough reflected glare to make you hope for enough rain to wash the top layer of crud off the car.

You know it's coming.

What you don't know is what will come with it. Will it be straight-line winds, depositing the trash (and sometimes the trash can) from half a block away in front of my door? Will it be the sort of lightning that defines shock and/or awe? Will some galactic equivalent of Tiger Woods spend two hours on the practice tee at Cloud 8, propelling balls of ice incredible distances? Will it be, heaven help us, all of the above?

You don't know. All you know is that you know it's coming.

Or it might not. For every storm that stopped and spent the night, there's another one that took a detour and dropped on somebody else.

Welcome to Oklahoma. It's spring, dammit.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:38 PM)
7 April 2003
Time stands still

I guess it always will.

Out the front door at the usual time. Temperature around freezing: check. Stiff north wind: check. Sunrise not even slightly in evidence: check.

Yep. It's the second week of February. I have no idea why all these postings are coming out with April dates on them.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:56 AM)
16 April 2003
Routine stormage

Only in Oklahoma, it seems, can a feeble 0.44 inches of rain turn into a storm of epic proportions. The winds were blowing 40, 50 mph, occasionally hitting 75 or 80, and the power was cycling at semi-regular intervals, to the point where I started yelling "Don't even bother! Leave it off until it's going to stay on!"

Which, eventually, it did, and I awoke to an alarm clock with battery backup that had gained thirteen minutes overnight, and a VCR forlornly flashing "1:00" in the next room. (It's one of those newer models that automagically adjusts for Daylight Saving.) And something took out the central boiler, so this morning's shower was a special treat, with water seemingly imported all the way from Hudson Bay, kept at a scientifically-controlled 2 degrees Celsius for maximum discomfort.

We can't control everything, of course — every spring storm is a reminder of exactly that — but if we could, we'd probably muck up stuff worse than we have. And I really don't think we could improve much on this morning's full moon, a picture right out of your Kids' First Book of Astronomy, low enough to the horizon that if you stayed in the left lane, you'd think you could drive right up to it.

But . . . 0.44 inches of rain? That brings us up to just about four inches for the year, at a time when we've normally had seven or eight. Too early to mention the D word, maybe, but I have a feeling this summer is going to be a scorcher.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:09 AM)
3 May 2003
Are we having funnels yet?

Not today.

Four years ago on this date — well, then we had some serious stormage. It passed fairly close to me, but the only damage I suffered was from high-speed hail.

This being before I started the daily blog, I reported thusly in a subsequent Vent:

You can't watch destruction at this level, even at a "safe" distance, without something happening to you. The deeply religious, and we have lots of them, saw this as a severe test of their faith; the vast majority of them, I believe, held on. For those of an environmentalist bent — and perhaps also for those who scoff at such things — the storm was a none-too-gentle reminder that Nature always gets the last word.

All my life I've always felt that I could laugh in the face of danger. This is the first time I can remember that it laughed back.

DavidMSC, who used to live here, seems to be almost nostalgic about it. Well, of course; he wasn't here when it happened. Still, storms, especially really big storms, have their devotees, and I can't deny the fascination; as the pundits say, there's a high level of shock and awe.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:22 PM)
8 May 2003
Everyone knows it's windy

I've been to the west side of Moore, and there's nothing there that screams to the heavens "Yo! Tornado! Over here!"  For some reason, though, it's the preferred point of touchdown for the nastiest storms on record.

This wasn't an F5 or anything, but F2 was definitely within the realm of plausibility; this particular funnel danced east-by-northeast across the south side of the Oklahoma City metro, taking out much of a bank building on I-240 and smashing roof and window panels at General Motors' assembly plant.

No damage chez Chaz, and this time I had enough sense to stay inside.

(Update, 9 May, 8:30 am: The Weather Guys have started classifying this storm as an F3.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:48 PM)
9 May 2003
Déjà blew

Last night, KWTV worked up a creepy-looking map of the storm path, and superimposed upon it the path of the 1999 F5 storm. And what's most telling is that those paths were almost perfectly parallel for a good six, seven miles before crossing, the Storm of the Century veering northward (towards me) while last night's funnels kept to a more easterly route.

I suspect at least some of the people who rebuilt after 1999 are thinking now that they've had just about enough of this.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:14 AM)
10 May 2003
Instant respray

Yes, yes, of course there are more tornado reports, but this time there was a tinge of irony to the story: the storm tracked across the northeast-side area where the major television stations are located, and managed briefly to knock two of them off the air. National Weather Service radio booted its automated voice off the air in favor of live coverage; it was no less useful than the TV reports, and frankly, how much murky, indistinct video can one person be expected to watch?

The good thing, of course, is that despite two nights of this (and a slight chance of a third), no one was killed, and relatively few were injured, by the effects of the storms.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:50 AM)
15 May 2003
Now playing, somewhere else

Twice within fifteen minutes this morning, the NOAA weather radio regaled us with an explanation of tonight's lunar eclipse, why it happens, and when to see it.

The rest of that quarter-hour was devoted to the forecast, which made it quite clear that skies will be overcast for the next two days, with increasing chances of thunderstorms, and that our chances of actually seeing the eclipse were on par with those of a mascot at Satan's School for Snowballs.

I hate when they do that.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:01 AM)
3 June 2003
Drippity drop

It's the third of June. Another sleepy, dusty Delta day? Maybe down by some other river. We're getting rained upon — half an inch since sunrise, after which it started coming down faster — and a particularly wet pattern is setting up for the rest of the week. It's as though someone looked at the statistics and yelled, "Cripes, Marv, we're down forty-nine percent on rainfall for the year!" Which we are. Or were, anyway. There are no flood warnings up yet, but a couple more hours like this and you won't have to throw things off the bridge: the water will take it right out of your hands.

Still, better in June than in January, when the combination of flakes on the road and flakes on the road is deadly, or at least annoying.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:10 AM)
23 June 2003
It's summertime, summertime...

Sum, sum, summertime.

The first official workday of the season, and the heat index is flirting with triple digits. (I should be so flirtatious. Then again, maybe I shouldn't.)

Then again, it's not like this is a surprise to anyone. I just hope the sodden masses of the East are able to enjoy something similar to this — especially since I have to drive out there before too awfully long.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:48 PM)
8 August 2003
The dreaded D word

Folks on the sodden Eastern Seaboard will scoff, but out here on the Really Dry Prairie, we've had only about thirteen inches of rain this year, 40 percent below average. Agriculture, of course, is suffering badly, and Governor Henry has asked USDA Secretary Ann Veneman to declare 62 of Oklahoma's 77 counties disaster areas.

Is it officially a drought? Depends on whom you ask. Lawns haven't turned toasty yet, and water rationing in the cities is still somewhere in the future, but cotton and peanuts, among the state's summer crops, are in notably bad shape, and ranchers are selling off cattle for lack of forage.

The full-service car wash a couple miles away has a sign up: MAKE IT RAIN. WASH YOUR CAR. If only it were that simple.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:23 AM)
25 August 2003
Feeling the heat

It's not just me.

Outdoor burning has been banned in 33 Oklahoma counties. The weather station at Will Rogers World Airport reports a 9-inch — almost 40 percent — rain deficit for this year, and generally, the rest of the western half of the state is no better off.

A few exceptions are authorized: gas or charcoal grilling, organized fireworks displays where permitted by a municipality, and the disposal of wheat stubble. Otherwise, you can't have so much as a campfire in the counties where the ban is in effect.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:33 AM)
30 August 2003
Feast or famine

It's almost as though someone looked over the climatology reports and said, "Holy desiccation, Batman, we're way down on our rainfall this year!"

Not to worry, old chum; Mother Nature will catch up. And, this being Oklahoma, she'll try to catch up in the briefest period of time possible.

Making up that nine-inch deficit will be difficult, but the clouds managed to cough up an inch and a third before sunrise (not that there's any sun or anything), and this pattern isn't supposed to break for at least 24 to 36 hours, so a few suburban lawns may yet be saved. In the process, a couple of rivers will likely sneak out of their banks, but that's not exactly surprising either; almost the entire state is under a flood watch, and some flooding is already being reported southwest of Tulsa.

And at least the seemingly-endless stretch of 100-degree days (plus or minus three) has ground to a halt, which I reckon is a Good Thing even if I did leave my umbrella out in the car.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:24 AM)
31 August 2003
The gully is duly washed

We're about halfway through this particular wet spell, although how long it lasts is at least partially dependent upon how long it takes tropical storm Grace to fall apart over Texas. Right now, it looks like the last of the rain from this batch will show up tonight; remnants of Grace will begin affecting the area on Monday and Tuesday.

So far, a smidgen over two inches at the airport, "which is stupid," said George Carlin's hippy-dippy weatherman Al Sleet, "'cause I don't know anybody who lives at the airport." Not nearly enough to erase the overall deficit for the year, but it helps, and there's more on the way. Based on past performance, I should be thoroughly sick of it by Thursday or so, but the Weather Guys are sort of confident that it will all be over long before then.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:22 AM)
6 November 2003
Welcome to January

The cold front got here yesterday morning, and it was one of those really big, really obvious cold fronts: if you were paying attention, you could actually watch the trees transitioning from shaking in a warm south wind to quivering in a cold north wind.

What we got as a gift from the Canadians was a classic late-January pattern, complete with cloud cover thick as chowder and temperatures struggling to stay above freezing. There's not a whole lot of precipitation in this mix, but what does fall can assume almost any configuration that isn't associated with warmth. The Sun, you ask? It's a newspaper in Edmond.

Still, the chills of November have their uses: you can finally put away the lawn mower, and all those children conceived in fitful passion on Valentine's Day can make a grand entrance.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:58 PM)
11 November 2003
Blow, you old blue norther

Just don't do what you did on this date in 1911.

It was 83 degrees that afternoon, a record high for the date; before midnight, it had fallen to 17, a record low for the date. (Next morning it had dropped to 14.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:26 AM)
13 November 2003
How about "pre-sleet"?

Never have I quite understood how this works, but November rain seems to be so much more, well, rainy than the stuff that falls the other ninety-three percent of the year.

At first, I thought it might be somehow imbued with attitude. We know that were the weather conditions only slightly altered, we'd be breaking out the snow shovels; perhaps we're being laughed at. "You fools! Did you think it would remain warm forever?"

And November rain takes its own sweet time. It's been falling all day — most of the month, it seems — and yet a quick glance toward the lair of the Weather Guys reveals that all of today's rainfall wouldn't fill their cup to a sixth of an inch.

On second thought, that's the most rain we've had in five weeks. No wonder the grass is squeaky.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:40 PM)
10 December 2003
Lightly frosted

Now this is the kind of snowfall to have: enough to decorate the yards, but nothing actually clogging up the roads. The official total at the airport ("Which is stupid, 'cause I don't know anyone who lives at the airport," says Al Sleet) was a mere 0.2 inches.

Of course, even a fifth of an inch is impressive when it comes at you sideways at 40 mph.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:23 AM)
12 December 2003
Watching the skies

After a couple of clear (but cold) mornings, we now have a mass of clouds, and it's still cold. At least the wind is relatively hushed; a howler earlier this week packed enough punch to set off a motion detector around my house.

What we're waiting for, of course, is this next storm system, which has been hotly hyped all week, and which will drop somewhere between a fraction of an inch and a tad over a foot of snow on us, depending on factors which can't be predicted worth a darn. (Computer models are wonderful things, but the real world persists in not conforming to them.)

The most amusing aspect of this, apart from watching the meteorologists doing their standard decapitated-chicken dance, is the effect on the National Weather Service's VHF radio service. Somebody got the bright idea of promoting the NWS Web site over the radio, which is sane enough; what wasn't so bright was failing to notice the fact that the computer voice had been programmed to interpret some letters as standard abbreviations. The local forecast office is located at www.srh.noaa.gov/oun, which the disembodied voice duly reported as "West West West South RH...." By this morning, the Service's code warriors had tweaked the voice programming, and the URL is now given correctly up to the slash, after which "oun" is read as a word, rhyming with "town". They'll figure it out eventually.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:23 AM)
13 December 2003
Writhing in a winter wonderland

The fastest way home from 42nd and Treadmill, generally, is to take the freeway loop about 165 degrees counterclockwise. It's about two miles farther than along surface streets, and the lanes are crowded, but traffic at that time of day is usually moving close to the 60-mph speed limit, so it's not as horrendous as it might be were I doing the same in Denver or Dallas.

The downside of this route is that it passes over a couple of bridges, including the infamous Belle Isle Bridge, which will freeze over with even the slightest bit of cold water thrown at it. With temperatures hovering right at the freezing point, I took off half an hour early and implemented Plan B, which is confined to surface streets, which passes over one fairly short bridge, and which has only one turn, and a right turn at that.

I probably shouldn't have bothered. The spritzing we got, part sleet, part freezing rain, part snow, and seemingly part WD-40, was causing people to dart madly off in all directions except for the actual path of the road. But if the going was treacherous, the stopping was impossible, and indeed I spent a few anxious seconds doing the slide — though I didn't veer off course in so doing, and I was able to recover control soon enough. The nine-mile run took 55 minutes, culminating with some hurried soul trying to pass me while I was starting the turn into my driveway. I figure they picked him out of the fence at the grade school later that evening.

Ultimately, about four inches of the wet and nasty stuff piled up; this is a fairly feeble amount by the standards of Buffalo or Boston, but we can just about match them for traffic paralysis.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:04 AM)
16 December 2003
Hence the name

We weren't exactly buried in dust yesterday, but the sepia-toned low clouds gave an indication of just how much soil from west Texas and eastern New Mexico wound up being deposited here.

The winds were fairly fierce: when the front came through around 5 pm, the prevailing southwest winds at around 20 mph switched to the north at around 30, the result of a fast-moving cold front. And during all this wind-swapping, a storm system moved through and dropped what it had, which wasn't moisture this time, but good old-fashioned dust.

We're sort of used to this, but things always look just a bit unearthly when it happens.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:33 AM)
6 January 2004
How cold is it?

Well, it was 7 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, the coldest it's been since 3 March 2002.

I bitched about it then, too.

They promised us 40s tomorrow. Then again, they promised us 30s Monday and Tuesday, and we didn't get those either.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:37 PM)
22 January 2004
But are we having funnels yet?

The AP wire this morning reported no tornado activity in Oklahoma yesterday, the same thing it's reported since 17 May 2003.

Which means that we've gone 250 days without a single tornado, something that hasn't happened even once before in the 53 years for which records are available.

Despite this relative quiet, 2003 was actually a banner year for tornadoes; the state recorded 78 funnels last year, 44 percent above average, and 59 of them occurred in those first days of May, including an F4 storm.

Me? I'm not complaining.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:28 AM)
9 February 2004
One brief shining moment

Or at least, an awfully damned hot one, and one which proves the old saying "Garbage in, garbage out."

I wake up to the droning automated voice of the National Weather Service's VHF radio station (162.40 MHz), and this morning it was duly recapping yesterday's statistics: low 25, high 109.

One hundred and nine?

Trust me, it didn't feel like that when I was walking from the Civic Center to the Sheridan-Walker parking garage. But somehow this bogus number (the high was more like forty-nine) got into the database. (Here's a screen shot of the local NWS data page, before they get around to fixing it.)

Normal high for this date is 52 degrees.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:32 AM)
17 February 2004
So where's spring already?

Well, it can't be too far off. While today was the first day since the 25th of January with actual above-average temperatures — and about time, too — the real harbinger of spring is the ever-lengthening day, which finally reached 11 hours today after bottoming out at a painful 9:35, on its way to the twelve-hour equinox. (For summer buffs, the longest day of the year at this latitude runs 14:25.)

I still have half a dozen bare trees, but their time is coming.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:58 PM)
4 March 2004
Wrung out

The official Oklahoma City weather station (at Will Rogers World Airport) reported 1.45 inches of rain in January and, again, 1.45 inches of rain in February, a total of 2.90 inches over 60 days, within spitting distance of the normal rainfall for the period.

March, evidently, comes in like a sea lion; 1.19 inches fell between 3 and 4 this morning, with 2.60 so far over the two-day storm period. Normal for the entire month of March is 2.90.

Glad am I that I chose the house upon the hill. (If this place floods, start pairing up your animals, post haste.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:36 PM)
16 March 2004
We got your equinox right here

The calendar begs to differ, but inasmuch as the sun is setting right now at 6:39 pm, and inasmuch as the sun rose at 6:39 am, exactly twelve hours ago, and irrespective of how much snow fell on Nebraska and Iowa this morning, spring has sprung, dammit.

Let there be flowers, and grasses, and okay, maybe some weeds, but don't overdo it, wouldja please?

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:39 PM)
19 March 2004
Simulated exhilaration

It always amazes me how fast things happen once winter is banished from the premises. Last week US 62 was lined with bare cottonwood trees; this morning it's like the world's largest Q-Tip display. I have one such tree in the back yard, which isn't blooming quite so quickly, but it should be up to speed presently.

Temperatures have been sneaking into the 80s, which prompted me to open up the shutters — pop the doors and twist the crank, and they open for ventilation — and the humongous attic fan. Just watching the motorized louvers on the fan opening slowly, deliberately, inspires low-level awe, and opening a mere three sets of shutters (two out of four in the living room, one out of four in the master bedroom) produced enough airflow to keep a small kite aloft. I know this seems awfully low-tech in this age of 24/7 climate control, but it works.

Ah, Spring. Now to wait for the inevitable thunderstorms.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:55 AM)
14 April 2004
Under the heading of "wait a few minutes"

As in "If you don't like the weather...."

This morning's low was 34, entirely too close to freezing for me and the irises and the forget-me-nots.

As I write, it is now 72 and "breezy," an Oklahoma term which means "Wear a longer skirt next time, dummy."

(Not that you should, you know.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:59 PM)
10 June 2004
Drought, schmought

The weather station at Will Rogers World Airport reported more rain yesterday than during the entire month of May.

Admittedly, this May was drier than usual, but this is yet another example of the feast-or-famine nature of Oklahoma weather. And the punchline? Even with this deluge, we're still down about 3.5 inches for the year.

And come August, we'll be wondering where all the damn rain went. Count on it.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:17 AM)
20 June 2004
Spring is resprung

The National Weather Service's Forecast Discussion, which circulates behind the scenes, is available to the general public via the Web but is not promoted as a major forecast product. Which is a shame, really, since sometimes the Discussion tells you more than the actual forecast.

Here's what they sent down the line at 3:00 today:

SUMMER OFFICIALLY BEGINS AT 0057Z THIS EVENING...BUT NO ONE TOLD THE ATMOSPHERE. REMARKABLE AND PERSISTENT LONGWAVE PATTERN IS HIGHLY ANOMALOUS FOR 1ST WEEK OF SUMMER - MORE CLOSELY RESEMBLING SOMETHING ASSOCIATED WITH WINTER ARCTIC OUTBREAKS - WITH STRONG PERSISTENT VORTEX VICINITY HUDSONS BAY AND EQUALLY STRONG/PERSISTENT RIDGE NEAR W COAST OF NOAM.

That's "North America"; if there's a strong/persistent ridge near Noam Chomsky, I don't want to know about it.

The bottom line:

GENERAL PATTERN WILL FEATURE FREQUENT INTRUSIONS OF UNSEASONABLY COOL AIR FROM CANADA INTO THE CENTRAL/EASTERN U.S... CONTINUING NW FLOW ALOFT OVER AREA WHICH WILL BE STRONGER THAN USUAL FOR LATE JUNE...AND A FRONTAL ZONE MEANDERING BACK AND FORTH OVER AND THROUGH THE AREA. THERE DOUBTLESS WILL BE VARIANCE FROM DAY TO DAY IN TEMPS AND COVERAGE/AMOUNT OF PRECIP DEPENDING ON WHERE THE FRONT OR OTHER CONVECTIVE BOUNDARIES ARE. BUT BETWEEN THE COOL AIR INTRUSIONS AND EXPECTED CLOUD COVER ASSOCIATED WITH THE FRONTAL ZONE AND ASSOCIATED CONVECTION...EXPECT A PROLONGED PERIOD OF GENERAL COOL AND WET TO CONTINUE.

After one of the driest Mays on record, I suppose it's a good thing we're getting a June drenching. And better to soak now than two weeks from now when I hit the road — not that whatever pattern exists here is necessarily going to hold through Kansas and Nebraska.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:33 PM)
11 August 2004
Accidents waiting to happen

The mix is perfect: two or three inches of rain, which means that drainage, theoretical at best in some parts of town, has become all but nonexistent; street lights being turned off because, after all, it's sunrise; and winds howling from the north at 40 mph or thereabouts. An eleven-mile commute is no treat under the best conditions; add all this and you've got a recipe for disaster.

Not that anything befell me today. Under hazardous conditions, my tendency is to put the hammer down and keep it there, reasoning (if that's the word) that the sooner I finish the trip, the sooner I get away from the hazards. This actually seems to work far better than it deserves to.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:24 AM)
22 September 2004
Heading for a fall

After an unusually cool summer, September so far has looked very much like May: rather warm and exceedingly dry. The prognosticators have been tripping all over themselves trying to determine What It All Means, but they're overlooking the obvious fact that this is Oklahoma and the weather does pretty much what it wants regardless of anyone's forecast.

Meanwhile, leaves are falling, more or less on schedule; a few of them fell on me while I was trying to soak up the last few rays of the summer sun. And this morning, as I slid open the garage door, there was a single leaf, dancing about a foot above the driveway, mostly at the mercy of the morning winds but still never actually approaching the ground. I stared in disbelief, wondering what magic I might be seeing, until a stray ray of light sliced through the scene and revealed a slender strand of spider stuff holding up the leaf.

And you know what? Contrary to the insistence of your friendly neighborhood stage magician, knowing how something works doesn't destroy the sense of wonder. At least, not for me.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:24 AM)
1 October 2004
Number eight

The Romans used to consider October the eighth month, hence the name, and I think it fits better into the No. 8 slot, if only because it banishes February to dead last where it belongs, and I rather like the idea of the year beginning with a hint of spring instead of with a blast of winter.

But as the tenth month, October still has a role to play, splitting the difference between the last vestiges of summer and the first signs of winter. In Oklahoma, it's cool, except when it's warm, and it's damp, except when it's dry, which suggests that most years it's hard to get a grip on October. This year, I'm even less sure what to expect; May, a similarly transitional month, was exceptionally dry, but summer wound up mostly cool and wet and May-like. Cool and wet isn't great for my arthritis — and no, I've not been taking Vioxx — but I suppose I'd rather have it now than in the middle of January.

On average, the first freeze in the city shows up around the 4th of November, which is still a way off. But there's about an eight-week range: in one year — 1952 — the first freeze was October 7. (In 1998, the first freeze held off until December 8.) At least things aren't going to be dull, unless of course they are.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:32 AM)
4 October 2004
Storms? We got some

After a placid September, one could be forgiven for thinking that maybe we were going to escape the usual fall storm season this year.

Until about 3:50 this morning, when a single clap of thunder rattled windows for blocks and initiated the standard cacophony sequence for aftermarket car alarms, and a single lightning strike turned the black sky — well, less black.

Then came the rain, fast, then faster, then faster still. There wasn't that much of it — the National Weather Service says .08 inch at the airport, probably less than a quarter-inch up here near Deep Fork Creek — but it was enough to play havoc with the weary travelers trying to beat the dawn.

This pattern should hold for the next few days, as we make up the September rainfall deficit in less than a week.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:35 AM)
1 November 2004
Season's bleatings

The weather was sufficiently nasty last night to keep the ghouls and goblins away from my door, but the real weirdness started this morning: for a couple of weeks, it will actually be almost daylight for the last segment of my morning commute.

(Saturday, the sunrise was at 7:49, the latest — per the clock, anyway — it ever happens; this morning, post-DST, what sun we got, which wasn't much, started at 6:50. The dead-of-winter sunrise runs 7:40 or so.)

And a cold front is poised to slice through the area today, spelling the end of the easy part of the fall and the end of the outdoor-frolicking period. This is when we get serious about winter.

Some things, however, don't change; about a mile from the Grey Cavern where Treadmill crosses 42nd, the familiar fragrance of eau de polecat wafted into the ventilation system, just like it does in the spring and the summer.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:30 AM)
3 November 2004
Pouring over the results

Rain.

It started between nine and ten last night, about the time most of the state races were called. It continues to fall, and will likely continue to fall most of the day.

On the morning after the night before, I offer my congratulations to the winners and my condolences to the losers. The people have spoken, and in the best Oklahoma tradition, we said our piece and then got the hell off the stage. The rain will wash away the detritus of the election, the negative campaign ads, the temporary animosity steeped in the heat of the moment, all the things that divided us those many months. And the sunshine will return: it may not be as warm as we might like, and for a while it may not last as long as it used to; but it will return, a reminder that there are things beyond politics, beyond the power of mankind.

We now resume life as we know it.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:23 AM)
18 November 2004
Bubbling under

Early spring rains are gorgeous: you can see the leaves unfolding, the petals unfurling, the grass responding as the water falls from the sky.

Late fall rains, however, are annoying, especially when they go on for five or six days. Wet leaves compress into a sodden mass that responds neither to rake nor to blower; trees, already drooping, abjectly surrender. And my office is flooded, which does nothing to improve matters. Still, it's worse in Texas.

If there's a bright side to all this, and trust me, there isn't, it's the fact that temperatures have remained well above freezing through the entire period: otherwise, we'd be digging out from under four or five feet of snow.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:18 AM)
23 November 2004
When will it ever end?

Supposedly, this weather pattern will finally shift about 36 hours from now, and good riddance. Since the 10th of the month there have been maybe five hours that weren't overcast, and we've had close to half a foot of rain, carefully timed to ensure that the rivers remain just under flood stage. My office is wetter now than it was last Thursday when the seepage started.

Of course, this mess isn't about to go quietly. Between now and tomorrow afternoon, we're being threatened with thunderstorms, another couple of inches of rain, and maybe some snow on the way out. It's not going to stick — ground temperatures are way above freezing — but this is the classic example of adding insult to injury.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:20 AM)
24 November 2004
Red rubber ball

Well, actually, when the morning sun showed up (around half past nine) it was more of a yellow ball, but I wouldn't have cared if it was chartreuse: at least it was there. Two weeks of life in greyscale played hell with both my sense of well-being and, no thanks to humidity in the 95-to-100-percent range, my damaged knee joint.

The reprieve lasts only a couple of days, though. (Dear Mr. Sun: I should have known you'd bid me farewell. There's a lesson to be learned from this.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:04 PM)
28 November 2004
Dark and dank and dismal

Lest you think I was kidding about how grey and gloomy it's been for most of this month, well, the numbers bear me out.

We got our reprieve for the holiday. Now we go back under the clouds and wait to get soaked again.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:19 AM)
14 December 2004
Crisp, not brittle

Sunset has started to advance again, after retreating back to 5:17 pm, but nights are still just about as long as they can be. Fortunately, last night was about as nice a period of winter darkness as you can find in Oklahoma: the air was cold but dry, clouds had been banished from the premises, and the lights of Bricktown seemed brighter than usual, even beyond the usual holiday decor.

Then came the morning, and the revelation that the Mother of All Potholes (well, I don't know if it's truly the Mother, but I recall addressing it in some related fashion) has now reached across almost an entire lane of traffic. And since it was filled with water yesterday afternoon, I can't think of any reason why I should have been surprised that this morning (low 24) it was full of ice, but I was definitely grateful not to be facing any oncoming traffic during the inevitable Swerve Mode.

Generally, I don't normally travel that direction in the morning, but I figured I'd go vote. I arrived at 7:09, and the poll workers were just getting things opened up. Given the amount of turnout one can reasonably expect for an election this minor, they probably needn't have rushed.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:57 AM)
22 December 2004
For all you Irving Berlin fanatics

If a white Christmas is just like the ones you used to know, you're not from around here; Oklahoma City has had snowfall on the 25th of December a mere ten times since 1890, and only six times has there been more than an inch on the ground.

Then again, the stuff is falling right now, and the temperature is 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and this is as warm as it's going to get for the next couple of days, so....

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:30 AM)
5 January 2005
20 degrees

That was the temperature (Fahrenheit) when I got home today.

Not to be confused with 30 degrees, which is the angle of the driveway it took me three tries to climb, no thanks to today's ice storm.

(Or with 9 degrees, which is the expected low tonight.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:19 PM)
22 February 2005
Stumbling toward spring

The warmest it's ever been in February in this town was on this date in 1996, where the temperature topped out at an unreal 92 degrees. We won't see anywhere near that today — in fact, if the fog doesn't lift, we won't see much of anything at all — but usually Washington's Birthday suggests the beginning of the transition to spring. The average daily low is now above freezing, something it hasn't been for two months or so. In fact, all we really need to make it a true spring day is an outcropping of thunderstorms — which is promised for this evening.

I'm not putting away my ice-scraper yet, but Old Man Winter has likely done his worst for this year.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:02 AM)
23 April 2005
Thoroughly frosted

Since they started collecting data in the 1890s, the coldest it's ever been in the city on the 24th of April has been 35 degrees Fahrenheit, which happened in 1995. We're supposed to break that tomorrow morning. It will, of course, be even colder in the northern reaches of the state.

This won't bother me much, but I really feel for the folks who have to roll out for the Memorial Marathon some time before sunrise. Geez, you'd think it wasn't even March yet, let alone April.

"Twenty-six miles through OKC,
February frostbite is waiting for me,
February frostbite, it goes right through
Your pants, your pants, your pants, your pants...."

(With apologies to at least two of the Four Preps.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:46 PM)
13 June 2005
Spring delayed

Or something like that; last night's eruption of thunderstorms was far more reminiscent of early April than of mid-June, and just about everyone got an inch of rain for their trouble. Surprisingly, no tornado showed up, but 90-mph straight-line winds can do enough damage, thank you very much, and five TV stations had their hands full juggling on-screen graphics and live reports from people who for some reason enjoy watching these things close up and personal. (I don't have the temperament to be a storm spotter, I suppose.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:02 AM)
8 September 2005
Idiot winds

The Atlantic storm season, which runs through the end of November, has already seen sixteen fifteen storms big enough to name; there being only 21 names assigned — there are few names starting with Q and U, and no one ever envisioned getting down to X, Y and Z — the system allows for only five six more.

(Storms #22 and subsequent are designated by Greek letters, so the next storm after Wilma will be called Alpha. Just what we need: an Alpha storm.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:25 AM)
16 November 2005
A hard freeze gonna fall

That was the big story from the Weather Guys yesterday: a Hard Freeze. The definition, so far as I can tell, is "28 degrees Fahrenheit or below for several hours," and that's pretty much what we got. What I don't understand is all the ballyhoo: it's hardly unusual to have one of these in November — we've had several in October over the years — and there will be a lot more of them between now and, say, the Ides of March.

The Hard Freeze Warning covered the state south of US 60. It was actually quite a bit colder north of 60, but they didn't get a warning. Reason: they've already had a Hard Freeze this year, on a day when it got down to only 30 here in the middle of the state. Tacit admission, I suggest, that this is more of a tradition than an actual warning.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:45 AM)
6 December 2005
Lord Kelvin snickers in the afterlife

Temperatures have been distinctly below normal for most of the last week, and are about to become more so; moreover, we're expecting snow — not a blizzard or anything, but not a mere dusting either — to drop upon us tomorrow.

Which wouldn't be a big deal, of course, except that local media are anxious to impress upon us the severity of it all, largely because it's been nine or ten months since we had any winter precipitation at all and they assume that we've totally forgotten what it's like in the interim.

Then there's this:

Snow is on the way, forecasters predict, and highs this week are expected to be in the 20s — half of what they normally are.

Emphasis added. This is the first really compelling argument for the adoption of the metric system I've seen in some time: with the normal high for this time of year about 10 degrees Celsius and the expected high tomorrow about -8, nobody is going to look at those numbers and conclude that it's going to be twice as cold as usual. (Comparing to absolute zero, the only way to obtain a meaningful comparison, the difference is about six percent, regardless of whose temperature scale you use.)

And you know, I'm not even grumbling about the farging snow: we haven't had any measurable precipitation in this neck of the woods since Halloween.

Hmmm. I just spun over to Lileks, and he said this:

Note: the current temperature, as I write, is Two. In an hour it will be One. The temperature will drop fifty percent! (Note: yes, I know, as measured against Absolute Zero this is not the case. But it already feels like Absolute Zero, so spare me the emails.)

Maybe that's the proper attitude.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:01 AM)
13 December 2005
Walk through the kindling

Which, these days, is just about anything organic outside: the total rainfall since Halloween is a meager 0.01 inch. (Last week's snowfall was two-tenths of an inch: it started out impressively, then petered out the moment people got home from work.)

The state's had a burn ban for most of this period; dry vegetation and the usual Oklahoma winds make for nasty wildfires. There's supposed to be a shower or two today, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:51 AM)
30 December 2005
Flame on

Every third word out of the National Weather Service these days is "FIRE," and when you've gotten a quarter-inch of rain in two months and winds are whipping up over dried-out and dormant vegetation, it should surprise no one: we're living in a tinderbox, and it won't take much to set it off. Along I-35 south of NE 36th there's a scorched embankment, half a mile long; I wonder if maybe someone pulled onto the shoulder, his muffler was dragging the ground, and suddenly it's like Popeil's Pocket Inferno.

Boinky seemed perturbed that I hadn't brought up this subject, but then grassfires during drought (or "drouth," as some would have it) are about as rare as gas after broccoli. And while temperatures of late have been well above seasonal averages, it wasn't so long ago that we were basking in Arctic breezes; the month of December will go into the record books as just about normal. For the dyed-in-the-wool Oklahoman, this is no news.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:06 AM)
1 January 2006
Fired up

The winds hit 45 mph on a regular basis this afternoon, and the temperature was an amazing (and a record) 75 degrees. Perfect weather for grass fires, and they got bad enough on the northeast side of town that an evacuation order was issued for an area centered on NE 63rd between Coltrane and Sooner, an area largely rural, but only about two to three miles from I-35. Farther north, fires near Guthrie forced the closure of the highway for an hour or so.

Winds are slowing down now, but relative humidities are still low and won't climb much tonight. Monday will be cooler; however, temperatures will rise sharply again on Tuesday.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:19 PM)
4 January 2006
FEMA shows up

Well, their checkbook showed up, anyway: the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved reimbursement grants (at 75-25) for firefighting expenses in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.

Meanwhile, small fires continue to crop up, and the chance of rain between now and next week is somewhere between not much and nil.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:15 AM)
10 January 2006
Textbook snowfall

If I were writing the textbooks, anyway. The world is dressed in white — except for the roads, shiny ribbons of dark grey, wet but nothing more.

How often do we get these? Not very.

And it's odd that almost all the precipitation we've had since mid-autumn (which is not much) has been in the form of snow: maybe three inches, which in terms of actual moisture is barely enough to water one's lawn.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:11 AM)
29 January 2006
Many are cold, but few are frozen

January 2006 bids fair to become the second-warmest January on record in Oklahoma City, with an average temperature between 47 and 48 degrees Fahrenheit. (Records go back to 1891; the warmest was January 1923, at 47.8; the average is 36.7.)

December, by contrast, started out very cold, ended fairly warm, and overall averaged slightly below normal (38.9 versus 39.5).

Yesterday's downpour really wasn't much of one — 0.22 inches at the airport, slightly less up around my part of town — and it brings the total precipitation since the first of November to a parched 0.55. At least we're not being freeze-dried.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:08 PM)
21 February 2006
Air boredom

Not to be too obvious about it, but the purpose of cloud cover is to provide rain or, lower on the desirability scale, some other, more annoying forms of precipitation. Inasmuch as we're not getting any actual rain — the entire horrible weekend produced less than a quarter-inch of frozen crapola, which melts down to barely enough rain to move the dirt on one's car — the past 48 hours of clouds, which have done nothing to quench the thirst of the land and which, by dint of blocking the goddamn sun and all, have made it possible for said frozen crapola to hang around for two farging days, would be considered wholly unacceptable even if I lived in some Land of Shadows like Seattle fercrissake, which you'll note that I don't.

I blame Karl Rove. Cheap sumbitch probably outsourced the maintenance on the Weather Control Machine to Ecuador or some such place.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:28 PM)
28 February 2006
Because it can, evidently

Weather conditions

Ten days ago, the high was 22°F (-6°C).

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:00 PM)
9 March 2006
Slightly less dry

Rainfall, 1 January through 7 March: 0.36 inches.

Rainfall, 10 pm last night until now: 0.54 inches.

To my utter amazement, I slept through it, which is more remarkable given the candlepin-bowling noises that tend to accompany spring rains out here.

There may be some more today.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:22 AM)
16 March 2006
Spring test

I think we can pass this pretty easily:

[ x ] Sunrise and sunset 12 hours apart.

[ x ] Trees beginning to develop new crop of leaves.

[ x ] Rainy weather pattern beginning.

[ x ] Pre-dawn freeze more the exception than the rule.

[    ] Twentieth of March has arrived.

Four out of five. I'd say that's probably good enough — though that "rainy pattern," predicted for tomorrow through Monday, had better produce more than the meager three-quarters of an inch the skies have coughed up so far this year.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:25 AM)
19 March 2006
Still I wonder, who'll stop the rain?

It's supposed to stop by itself sometime tomorrow, which is fine with me: we're getting a decent soaking.

Still, this hardly means an end to the drought. The last month we had with average rainfall or above was August. Since then:

September: 1.89 inches (average 3.84)
October: 1.17 inches (average 3.64)
November: < 0.01 inches (average 2.11)
December: 0.28 inches (average 1.89)
January: 0.27 inches (average 1.28)
February: 0.08 inches (average 1.56)
March 1-17: 0.40 inches (average 1.54)

For a period when we should have had 15.86 inches of rain, we got 4.09. (All figures from Will Rogers World Airport; at Wiley Post Airport, which is closer to where I live, we've had 3.89.)

So yesterday's 1.61 inches, impressive as it sounds, plus whatever we get today and tomorrow, likely won't make that much difference: the statewide burn ban remains in effect.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:56 PM)
23 March 2006
Old Man Winter keeps hanging around

The final totals for the day aren't in yet, but this figures to be the snowiest 23rd of March on record in Oklahoma City.

Which, in itself, doesn't mean a whole lot; there has been substantial (which is to say, more than a trace) snowfall in the city as late as the 14th of April. But I look upon the events leading up to the snow, which included three different forecasts in the space of four hours, and I can't help but snicker at the various Chickens Little whose very souls are in turmoil because of all that global climate change they've been hearing about. (As the baseball analogy says, Nature always bats last; you can twiddle your lineup all you want, but you'll never get past that simple fact.)

For the statisticians: normal high for this date is 65, normal low 41. Only once since 1891 — in 1974, to be exact — has it failed to get above 36 on the 23rd of March. I suspect that this record is about to be broken, or at least tied. And the record low for the 24th — 23, in 1965 — may also be in jeopardy.

Update, 24 March: An appearance by some mysterious yellow ball in the sky propelled temperatures above 40 yesterday afternoon, though it vanished as quickly as it appeared; around 6 am the temperature fell to 23, which ties the record low for this date.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:24 AM)
15 June 2006
Take a deep breath

There was a Clean Air Alert today, which, as a term, is risible: "Omigod, we have clean air! Hide the children, quick!"

Actually, I suspect the "Clean Air" tag is related to the Clean Air Act, which mandated this sort of thing. There were seven cities with Action Days today: Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Lawton, Dallas, Houston, Birmingham and Memphis. Tomorrow's list eliminates the more-westerly cities and adds some to the east, as you might expect given the standard west-to-east motion of weather patterns in the Northern Hemipshere. (The list is posted here.) The three pollutants considered important enough to spring into Action are ozone, carbon monoxide and particulate matter; each day in each city monitored an Air Quality Index is issued, along with the most significant pollutant for that day.

This is the third such Alert this year; there was one Monday, and one in May. There were nine last year, though two of them covered more than one day. All these alerts were for ozone; for some time ozone has been the only pollutant within spitting distance of putting Oklahoma metro areas out of compliance with the Clean Air Act. (Currently we're not on the EPA's blacklist.)

There's one other weird aspect of these things: the mandated wording. It is common to run into statements like "The Air Quality Index was 46, with the air quality rated Good. The primary pollutant causing this condition was ozone." This bumps up against the brain every time I hear it, even though I know perfectly well that the EPA doesn't have any higher praise than "Good."

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:02 PM)
19 July 2006
It's hotter than you think

The guy on the NPR station keeps announcing the predicted high for today as "middle to high 100s," which comes off, at least to me, as scary: I hear that, and it sounds like somewhere between 150 and 199, despite the fact that not even in Al Gore's most fervid fantasies has it ever been as high as 140. (The current world record is more like 136.)

The National Weather Service says today's high will be 106.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:44 AM)
1 August 2006
Wishful thinking, maybe

The automated voice over the National Weather Service's VHF radio this morning reported 0.35 inches of rain yesterday, which so far as I can tell is either a glitch, a fluke, or a complete and utter flub.

As it happens, July was a little wetter than average, at least at the airport, but we're still way below normal for the year.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:23 AM)
3 August 2006
You call this heat?

Why, this is nothing:

We've become so lame. It's global warming, everyone is sure. After all, it's "never been this hot before".

On July 11th, 1936, it hit 101 degrees on the north side of Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba. Take a look at that list — "One Hundred Teens" were very common. 120 in North Dakota. Strangely enough, the Oklahoma 120 degree temps are not on that list, but they are on another Weather Underground page.

120 at Alva, OK on July 18, 1936
120 at Altus, OK on July 19 and August 12, 1936
120 at Poteau, OK on August 12, 1936
120 at Tipton, OK on June 27, 1994

And in '36, they didn't have air conditioning.

Willis Haviland Carrier built his first A/C rig in 1902, but it was an industrial product: production of home units didn't begin until around 1928, and the Depression put them out of reach of most people anyway.

(The Oklahoma City record is 113, set on 11 August 1936.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:22 AM)
26 August 2006
Dem dry bones

Dry or not, they're under a flood watch. From the National Weather Service's wire:

ALTHOUGH MANY AREAS ARE STILL DRY... WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE COMING TOGETHER TO INCREASE THE RISK OF FLOODING TONIGHT OVER SOUTHWESTERN... CENTRAL... AND NORTH CENTRAL OKLAHOMA. A FAIRLY STRONG COLD FRONT MOVING THROUGH SOUTHWESTERN AND CENTRAL OKLAHOMA THIS EVENING IS EXPECTED TO SLOW DOWN AND EVENTUALLY STALL ACROSS SOUTH CENTRAL AND EASTERN OKLAHOMA LATER TONIGHT. LOW-LEVEL SOUTHERLY WINDS WILL INCREASE LATER TONIGHT... CREATING ADDITIONAL LIFT NORTH OF THE FRONT. A VERY MOIST AIR MASS REMAINS IN PLACE OVER THE AREA. THUNDERSTORMS WITH HEAVY RAIN... WHICH ALREADY ARE NUMEROUS FROM WESTERN NORTH TEXAS INTO CENTRAL AND NORTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA...ARE EXPECTED TO INCREASE AND BECOME EVEN MORE WIDESPREAD LATER THIS EVENING NORTH OF THE SURFACE FRONT. THUNDERSTORMS WILL CONTAIN LOCALLY HEAVY RAIN... WHICH WILL CREATE A POTENTIAL FOR FLOODING... ESPECIALLY IN AREAS WHERE HEAVY THUNDERSTORMS TRACK REPEATEDLY OVER THE SAME AREAS.

Feast, famine — pick one of two.

Update: The station at Will Rogers Airport recorded 1.99 inches of rain during the evening, setting a new record for the date. Incidentally, the total rainfall from the 1st through the 25th was a close-to-average 1.78 inches.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:04 PM)
31 August 2006
Or wait for the trees to catch fire

A University of Oklahoma professor of meteorology and an Arizona lightning expert have come up with a a gizmo that can predict lightning strikes by scanning the atmosphere for electrical discharges.

The concept resembles the electric field detection used by NASA in Florida, says Professor William Beasley:

They use a network of electric field meters. If the electric field is greater than 1,000 volts per meter anywhere on the place, you can't fuel a car, you can't launch a rocket, you can't do anything because there's a charge overhead and it could lead to lightning.

However, this version doesn't cost space-shuttle prices: the production model from Campbell Scientific sells for about $3500, plus power source (solar cell) and mounting.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:13 AM)
This Archive continues here.
The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

Click the Permalink on an individual entry to read comments and TrackBacks if any