FROM THEN, TO NOW....
Just five months ago we were all shivering and dreaming of warmer days. Some of us (including me) counting down to summer when we could walk outdoors in shorts and t-shirts, attend fairs, outdoor events, festivals or simply take the dog for a stroll around the neighborhood. Remember nearly five months ago on January 30th the thermometer dropped to a level it had not before?
Cedar Rapids, and many other communities around the region experienced the coldest temperatures in recorded history. Temperature data for the city goes back to the 1890's and never had the thermometer registered a reading of -30°. Compare that to what the forecast is for this Sunday, 91°, and we have a 121° temperature swing. Incredible! I'm not sure about you, but I know which side of the ledger I'd prefer.
But, we are not the only ones dealing with heat. Temperatures are soaring across Europe as a major heat wave is gripping much of the continent reaching record levels from Warsaw to Berlin and Vienna to Paris.
Below is a plot of temperatures from Wednesday across that part of the world. Readings were well into the 90s for many locations with parts of northern Africa and the Middle East climbing to over 100°F.
Meteorologists say the temperatures are a result from a warm air mass that has traveled north from the Saharan part of Africa.
Below the GFS model has a sprawling ridge of high pressure centered over the continent allowing the warm, stable air to reside leading to the blistering temperatures with little to no relief.
The chart below shows the temperature departure from normal with the highest anomalies centered over western Europe.
Back home, temperatures and humidity will continue to inch higher heading into the weekend. Much like what is occurring in Europe, an upper-level high pressure ridge will continue to build allowing warm air and moisture to surge northward all the way into Canada.
The result, an extended period of warm weather. In fact, this will be the longest warm stretch in about ten months. Below is a meteogram for Cedar Rapids over the next ten days. This particular chart shows data derived from a "national blend of models." They are averages from a wide range of computer weather models that give a sense of the temperature trend ahead. It's right in line with what I'm currently thinking. The blue bars are the high temperatures with the green bars showing the lows. As you can see, even the nights will be warm and muggy.
As the heat builds my area will continue to be on the leading edge where pieces of energy rotate around the high pressure ridge. That combined with instability and moisture in place may lead to showers and thunderstorms through the end of the week. Mainly Thursday afternoon/night and again Friday night. Models still vary greatly on where these will ultimately develop and track.
One scenario is what the NAM 3k is showing for Thursday afternoon/evening. The model develops storms in the northern plains and Minnesota and turns them to the southeast into northeast Iowa along a gradient of instability and moisture.
The Storm Prediction Center is keying in on this idea. They have a "SLIGHT" risk (yellow) which is the standard risk for the possibility of a strong storm with wind and hail the main threats along with heavy downpours. I expect this to get adjusted Thursday as the trends become more clear.
However, other models are not on board with this scenario and keep the local area high and dry. So let's just say confidence is a bit low in storm coverage for Thursday, but something to keep an eye on.
By the weekend, the storm track will generally lay out across the northern plains and upper Midwest.as we will most likely be "capped" where the air will just be too warm for thunderstorms to develop.
Enjoy the warm ride. Summer lovers, this is for you.