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Weather Talk: No rain, why not?

Weather Talk: No rain, why not?
MGN Online
Weather Talk

POSTED: Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 3:31pm

UPDATED: Friday, January 17, 2014 - 5:33pm

East Texans: We know what it’s like to be in a drought! It is never fun. We love the outdoors—from outdoor burning to other activities, the outdoors has a role in everyone’s life.

We’re halfway through January, and East Texas is behind for our rainfall for the month.

  • For Tyler, we have received 0.70” of rain; the monthly average is 3.06”.
  • For Longview, we have received 0.47” of rain; the monthly average is 3.32”.
  • For Lufkin, we have received 0.61” of rain; the monthly average is 4.18”.

The monthly averages are taken from climatological data. But here in East Texas, we know what a drought can do. Unfortunately, we had an outdoor fire get out of control and injured two people earlier this week.

Since last week, we have had 4 cold fronts move through East Texas. We had one Friday evening—January 10—that provided some decent rainfall. Another front Sunday evening—January 12—which produced some light showers. The next on Tuesday afternoon—January 14—and that gave some sprinkles across East Texas. We also had one Thursday—January 16.

Usually, these cold fronts have moisture associated with them that provide us with some beneficial rain. That unfortunately has not happened. Let’s talk about how the movement of air in the upper levels of the atmosphere impacts our weather at the surface.

A Northwest Flow

Meteorologists look to the upper levels of the atmosphere to understand how the surface responds. At 30,000 feet (300 millibars), winds are out of the west/northwest. A northwest flow provides us with very dry air and we are left with little to no precipitation. This pattern also sends down cold air into our region via the northwest winds. Now, by time it reaches us, it is translated to highs in the upper 40s and lower 50s and lows in the 20s and 30s.

Moisture Source Closed

Our source of moisture in East Texas comes from the Pacific or the Gulf of Mexico. Because of the strength of the jet stream providing a northwest flow aloft, the moisture gets pulled more toward the Mid-South and Deep South region of the United States. You can see that by looking at the wind barbs and how they are directed toward the west/southwest.

Looking Ahead…

The forecast models continue to indicate more blasts of cooler air headed for our region over the next week. KETK Meteorologists have been tracking another cold front that should move through during the day Monday. Once again, moisture will be limited with increasing clouds likely. 

Beyond that, the weather pattern looks to become interesting.

I want to point out to you that according to the Climate Prediction Center, Alaska is likely to be above average (image below). The average high in Anchorage for this time of the year is about 23°. Notice that in the eastern USA temperatures look probable to be below normal. Even East Texas is included in some shades of blue.

With warming in Alaska, the core of the very cold air in Canada and near the Arctic Circle will be forced southward toward the USA. This is only speculation for the moment, but it is possible that we could have another cold air outbreak across the eastern half of the United States near the end of January and early February. It’s too far out to give any kind of certainty, but when you warm up a location like Alaska that is almost always cold during the month of January, the coldest air that is usually confined to upper Canada will shoot down to the states.

Winter is not over just yet. Meteorological winter ends February 28. Astronomical winter ends March 19.

We’ll keep you updated as the weather changes. You can get the full weather forecast for East Texas anytime at the KETK Weather Page.

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