Wednesday Storm Update – 9AM

July 18, 2018 - Leave a Response

Heavy rain continues to fall over the KC Metro, and our surrounding cities to begin your Wednesday.  Many have picked up 1-3″ of rainfall the last 24 hours – or more!! Please be cautious with slower travel times and flooding concerns through the lunch hour.

The rain looks to taper off by the evening rush hour – but we are tracking more storms overnight tonight and again on Thursday.

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Brett’s Blog (Heat Retreats…For Now)

July 15, 2018 - Leave a Response

The heat retreats this week!  It comes as we enter, on average, the hottest two weeks of the year!  Yep, between now and the end of the month, climatologically speaking, is the hottest of the Summer and year!

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Temperatures are going to be pretty close to average over the next 7-days.  But coming out this recent heat wave, near normal highs will feel cool compared to where we’ve been.  Just look at forecast highs for Wednesday!

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Why is this happening?  Remember that bubble of heat that was directly over Kansas City last week?  Well it’s retreating and setting up over the southwestern United States again.

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That does a couple of things for Kansas City. 1) It means high temperatures should be near or slightly below average. And 2) It means a chance for rain, especially on Wednesday as you can see on the map above.  The white lines are iso-heights or equal lines of atmospheric heights aloft.  This level is around 20-thousand feet.  I left the white lines on the map so you could see the “kink” in the Jet Stream.  This little kink is a storm.  It forms the same way ripples form in a stream.  The water, or air in this case, is flowing along smoothly from Portland to Billings, then encounters either faster or slower moving air from a different direction or the air sinks or rises.  This change causes a small ripple that turns into a swirl or an upper level storm.  Just like a stream when water starts to spin, the winds aloft spin and creating rising air that can result in a storm.  We won’t get a lot of rain but it should rain in most of our backyards Wednesday night and Thursday morning.  After this storm passes the heat will try and build back toward Kansas City.  While we aren’t sure how hot it gets here next weekend, it does look like the southern plains, including Dallas and Oklahoma City will see 100-degree heat.

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Even if it makes to 90 in Kansas City, we should expect it this time of year. After all, it is on average, the hottest time of Summer.

Brett’s Blog (Weekend Rain?)

July 13, 2018 - Leave a Response

The driest stretch since mid-April could not have come at a worse time.  This is the time of year a lot of crops are pollinating and need rain along with moderate not extreme heat.  But as you know, we’ve gotten no rain and extreme heat!  Just look at the rain statistics for Kansas City. The last time it officially rained at KCI was July 1st!

Kansas City Rain

The deficit since June 1st is growing dramatically and it’s contributed to the growing drought in Kansas and Missouri.  Areas that were classified as Abnormally Dry just a few weeks ago are now considered in Extreme Drought.

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What’s contributed?  1) Temperature. 34 of the 43 days since June 1st have experienced temperatures that have been above normal.  2) Lack of Rain. We have had about half as much rain as we average since the first of June.  3) Wind An afternoon Summer breeze can enhance evaporation rates and further dry out the soil.

Here’s the most  obvious statement you’ll read all weekend.  We need rain!  See I told you it was obvious.  But are we going to get any rain?  Our in-house computer model is projecting several passing rain showers and thunderstorms this weekend.  But the rainfall amounts are not going to bust this drought.
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Breaking a drought can be hard.  But this weekend offers a chance to at least put a small dent in it.  Next week looks unsettled. That means we’ll have more rain chances. Let’s hope they pan out.

 

 

Brett’s Blog (Summer Nights Are Costing Us More)

July 12, 2018 - Leave a Response

Running All Night

Chances are your air conditioner is running more at night than in the past and it’s running up your electric bill!  Just look at last night (Wednesday 11 PM to Thursday 7AM) The overnight low only dropped to 76 at KCI.

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That’s 7-degrees warmer than average. And the 16th time the overnight temperature has stayed above 65-degrees since Summer started June 21st.  That means more money to keep your house or business comfortable this Summer.   But this is nothing new! Warmer than average nights are on the rise since the 1970s.  Data provided by Climate Central shows Kansas City is experiencing 3 more nights a year above 65-degrees than we did almost 50-years ago.

WARMER NIGHTS

While that doesn’t sound like a lot consider nearby Wichita, Kansas where the number of nights above 65 has jumped from 71 in 1970 to roughly 93 in 2017.

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That’s putting a lot of stress on budgets in southcentral Kansas!

Magic Number

Why use 65-degrees as a measure of comfort? 65-degrees is an engineering temperature standard for keeping buildings cool. The Climate Central study analyzed the number of nights each year when the temperature remained above 65°F (for cities that rarely experience nights above 65°F, they chose 55°F).  Climate Central analyzed 244 cities across the U.S., and found that 87 percent are having more warm nights since 1970, with the biggest increase in the Southwest.  Check out the stats for Albuquerque, New Mexico!

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What’s to Blame?

Climate scientists blame the burning of fossil fuels for raising the concentrations of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. That’s leading to warmer nights!

Another Way to Measure Warming

We can also measure night-time warming by looking at something called “Cooling Degree Days” Cooling Degree Days or CDDs are used to determine how much cooling is needed to keep a building comfortable.  CDDs don’t measure days at all. Instead, CDDs measure the number of degrees that the daily average temperature is above 65°F.  For example, if the average temperature for a day is 80°F, there were 15 CDDs in that day.  Some of the largest increases in Cooling Degree Days have been seen in places that typically don’t think about air conditioning, places such as; San Francisco and Portland Oregon where CDDs have nearly doubled in the last half century.  So how are we doing in Kansas City?  Here is the comparison.

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Nearly flat over the last 50-years! But this year is trending toward higher Summer electric bills.  Since June 1st, in Kansas City, we’ve measured 568 Cooling Degrees. That’s 21-percent higher than average and higher than our long term average.  That means get ready to write a bigger check to the electric company!  And you can blame that on your air conditioning running all night!

 

 

 

Brett’s Blog (100-degrees on Thursday?)

July 11, 2018 - Leave a Response

We missed the century mark by just a smidge today.  For most of each hour between 3 PM and 5 PM the thermometer read 99-degrees.

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Thursday may be the day we hit 100 for the first time in nearly 5 years.  Here’s why!

Check out the 500 millibar forecast map for Thursday. 500 millibars is about halfway up through the atmosphere or roughly 18 to 23-thousand feet off the surface.  This level often holds the clue when it comes to heat-waves!  Since warm air is not as dense as cold air it takes a lot more warm air to achieve the same atmospheric pressure.  Because of this, hot air build over a large region and build high into the atmosphere.  This hot air sinks toward earth and the air mass warms as it falls back to earth creating heat domes like the one we are under.

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This is hot air is baking a surface that’s been heating up since Monday! Top it off with dry ground, which is easier to heat then a wet surface, and I think Thursday will be the day we hit 100!

Now look at Friday’s 500 millibar map.  The core of the hot air may not be directly overhead but there will still be enough hot air around for another day where the high temperature reaches the mid and upper 90s.

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Also notice the edge of the heat dome is sagging into southern Iowa and Nebraska. This may allow thunderstorms to form on the edge of the heat and they could pop up closer to Kansas City.  That would impact the high Friday. But for now let’s stick with highs around 95.

Finally, Saturday, the heat dome will begin to move into the southern United States.

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Kansas City will still be warm but excessive heat should begin to break down. Without the sinking air overhead, there should be a better chance for much needed rain and thunderstorms over the weekend and into early next week.  It’s looking like we could see highs in the 80s by Monday!  Almost 20-degrees cooler than today & Thursday!

Brett’s Blog (Tracking Another Heat Wave)

July 7, 2018 - Leave a Response

Could Kansas City hit 100-degrees for the first time in nearly 5 years? It is looking very possible by the end of the week!

A large area of intense hot air will overspread the western U.S. and move into the central plains, including Kansas City next week.  It’s called a ridge, or an area where more air piles up in the atmosphere because warm air is less dense than cold air.

As the warm air piles up, it sinks and the sinking motion causes warming of the atmosphere below.  This can result in intense heat waves.

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On top of the heat, it will likely be dry since sinking air can also limit cloud development. And since you need clouds for rain, rain is not likely for at least a week.  When the ground dries out, more of the sun’s energy can be absorbed by the earth’s surface.  With long amounts of daylight, limited cooling overnight because of higher humidity, the heat can build on itself.  If this scenario plays out, the end of next week will be very hot in Kansas City.

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As of now, Thursday could be our first 100-degree day in KC since September 8th, 2013 or 1763 days.  Even if we don’t reach 100 it’s still going to be a hot week even by July standards.

Brett’s Blog (Looks Can Be Deceiving)

July 6, 2018 - Leave a Response

Chances are you’ve heard the adage, “Knee high by the Fourth of July or as high as an elephant’s eye”.  Corn farmers use the saying as a way to predict the success of their crop around Independence Day.  Judging by some fields in eastern Kansas and western Missouri, including these pictures from Pat Smith’s farm in Chula, Missouri, it looks like it’s going to be a bumper crop.

Corn 1

But looks can be deceiving.  Dennis Patton, with Johnson County K-State Research and Extension says the next few weeks are critical to the corn crops success or failure.  “Patton says, “if the next few weeks are too hot and too dry then you don’t have tasseling and pollinating”   At the top of these tall stalks are the tassels.

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The tassels produce the pollen that pollinate the ears so the ears can form the kernels. Tasseling provides pollen that blows down to the silk.  Every silk is attached  to a potential kernel.  If corn doesn’t tassel, it can’t produce edible ears, whether you grow sweet corn or feed corn.  Patton says what we need right is now is more widespread rain and moderately cooler temperatures. “By cooler, we mean temperatures in the low 90s, a heat index of 100 or higher won’t affect the corn.

Patton tells me too much heat and too little water will lead to incomplete pollination and that leads to missing kernels and misshapen ears.  For the farmer, fewer and smaller kernels means less yield.

Generally this time of year, from an agricultural aspect, it takes about an inch of rain a week to sustain crops, keep our lawns green and our backyard tomato plants growing.  Patton says, that’s because our soil allows that kind of moisture to soak down to the plants’ roots at about 6 to 8 inches beneath the surface.  He says, lately Kansas City has experienced what he calls “feast or famine” rains.  “Three inches all at once does not help plants. You can’t put water in a bank for drier days.”

So yes, the corn was as high as an elephants eye at the Fourth of July but what will it look like at the of the month?  Time will tell whether looks prove to be deceiving.
 

Brett’s Blog (Drought Worsens)

July 5, 2018 - Leave a Response

It seems some of us can’t even buy a drop of rain lately.  The latest “Drought Monitor” released Thursday shows areas of Severe drought growing across northern Missouri and eastern Kansas.

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Severe drought also expanded over central and southcentral Kansas.  Just looking at rainfall data at Kansas City International will give you some idea of how dry it’s been since the beginning of meteorological Summer (June 1st)

Kansas City Rain

While the above graphic tells a good story it doesn’t tell the whole tale. Not every town has picked up nearly four inches of rain. There are some locations that have seen a lot less.  You can look at the Drought monitor graphic again to see where the rainfall deficits have been the greatest.

We need rain and a cold front is on the way. It should rain, right? While Summer cold fronts can bring heavy rainfalls, that doesn’t appear to be the case with this next front.  We might be lucky for some spots to see a half inch of rain by Friday evening.

Brett Precipitation Accumulation

That is not what a lot of us want to see. To make matters worse, the next decent chance of rain isn’t showing up for another week or longer.  By then some of us might pay a premium for some rain.  At least we have some cooler weather headed our way.

Amble’s Ramble

July 4, 2018 - Leave a Response

Hot as the 4th of July. That nearly worn out statement actually rings true this year as the 4th lands in the middle of our latest heat wave. A heat advisory will remain in effect until the evening of the 5th with temperatures in the 90s during the day and enough humidity in the air to make that same air feel warmer than 100 degrees.

Watch

Area fireworks displays will provide a great show in reasonably nice conditions. Temperatures by sunset should settle into the middle 80s and a very gentle breeze out of the south should offer some relief from the residual heat of the day all under a fair sky. Humidity levels will be very high though so be sure to pack plenty of water in your cooler and try to have the discipline to mix in a water or two if you also have alcohol in your ice chest.

Fireworks

If you need a little more excitement in you 4th you could snag a few tickets to the Royals, Cleveland game at the K this evening. There will be fireworks after the game and you can stay in a comfortable seat to enjoy both the game and the fireworks show.

Royals

However you decide to spend the 4th be sure to stay safe and have as much fun as possible celebrating our Nations birthday.

Brett’s Blog (Hot, But Not The Hottest 4th of July)

July 4, 2018 - Leave a Response

Happy Independence Day!  Today is going to be a hot day but not even close to a record high.

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95! yes that’s hot, warmer than our average high of 89 but when compared to some of the hottest 4th of Julys on record, it pales in comparison.

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2012 was the last excessively hot 4th in Kansas City.  Here is how the last 5 Independence Days stack up:

2017 ——— 79
2016 ——— 82
2015 ——— 81
2014 ——— 82
2013 ——— 85

That’s 5 straight Independence Day holidays below average.  Here are some other stats to ponder courtesy the folks at Climate Matters.

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So there you have it.  It’s hot today but not the hottest!  Happy Independence Day!