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The Gary Lezak Weather Blog

Excessive Rainfall Likely: Flooding Potential High

Good Saturday evening bloggers,

Our weather team at 41 Action News is the official meteorologist of the Kansas City Royals. We have another challenge tonight and Sunday as a very wet pattern is evolving right before our eyes. Yes, this is actually an exciting weather development for us weather enthusiasts. But, sometimes the exciting weather events get way out of control and become too excessive. This is what we are at the beginning of right now as I am writing this tonight.  Take a look at our spring forecast from early April:

Spring Forecast Graphic

In watching and reading this forecast, it was not perfect, but we did pick out some very important parts of this pattern and forecasted them accurately. In the transition from the warm phase into the cold phase of this pattern we had some rather violent weather, including the worst severe weather of the season for the KC region on last Saturday night into early Sunday morning. And, now we are in the part of the pattern that we forecasted the wet conditions to arrive. Now, did I expect 5 to 15 inches of rain? Maybe 5 to 1o inches, but this could get out of control and a major flood is likely in some locations during the next few days to two weeks as the cold phase of the pattern produces the wet weather. Just look at one of the forecasts that came out from this mornings GFS model:


The first disturbance, from this latest storm system, is approaching right now as I am writing this entry. Rain will likely fall before the end of the St. Louis Cardinals/Kansas City Royals game at Kauffman Stadium. If it’s a fast game, the game may get played without a delay, but this is going to be a tough thing to accomplish.

Look at that forecast map. We may never see another year with this kind of rainfall potential over such a large area.  That is a 15 inch bulls-eye centered on KC.  Now, will it verify?

Here is a look at the 8:30 PM radar on May 23rd. Two Saturday night’s in a row with tornado warnings. Who would have thought this would happen this week?

May 23 Radar

Those are tornado warnings in the Tulsa, OK market with the huge area of rain from Texas north to KC.  Have a great night and early Sunday. Here is a picture of my wonderful new doggy, that is still nameless:

Dogs Day 1


Weather Advisories Across The USA

Good morning Weather2020 bloggers,

The Weather2020 contest begins tonight.  How many of you predicted a lot of rain in that specific question for Kansas City? The heavy rain will likely be in progress as our May 24th-30th forecast period begins at midnight tonight. I entered the contest as well, even though rather obviously I am not eligible for the $100 prize. My prediction was for 3.12″ to fall at KCI Airport this next week. Remember, all of you took a stab at a long range forecast, as the deadline to enter was May 15th. Good luck!

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 6.21.18 AM

On this Saturday, there are Flash Flood Watches in effect from the KC metro area south to the Texas coast, and there are freeze warnings across a large part of New York state. It’s May 23rd, wow. As many of you know, this cold wave part of the cycling pattern was forecast months ago to arrive this week. We are into week one of the cold phase, and we forecasted this to likely produce excessive rainfall in our area of the plains. It is now doing it. The big question is going to be how much rain will fall during the last two weeks of this cold phase, before the warm phase part of the cycling weather pattern returns in June?

A very slow moving storm system is over Utah this morning. It is an upper level storm that has many disturbances rotating around it, and now that the Gulf of Mexico air has returned northward, the area is prone to have each one of these disturbances produce bands of rain and thunderstorms. One of these disturbances has produced an MCS (Mesoscale Convective System) over the Texas Panhandle. And, this is likely not going to fall apart as it approaches Kansas City.  Here is the Water Vapor Satellite picture from 6:30 AM this morning.


We will be tracking this complex of thunderstorms as it moves northeast today. This is just one of a series of disturbances that will bring waves of rain across the Flash Flood Watch area during the next 48 hours.  There are risks of severe weather this weekend and the storm chaser will have to head out west:


The map above is the categorical risk for today, and the map below shows the tornado risk:


Today is a big day.  We are adopting a new dog. What should we name this dog? Lightning, Thunder, Haily, Misty???? Provide me with some suggestions. It’s a female dog, a Corgie/Australian Shepard mix.  Have a great Saturday. Let us know if you have any questions.


The Holiday Weekend Outlook

Good morning, It’s FRIDAY!

We had 179 entries into the first Weather2020 Long Range Forecasting Contest. I would like to thank all of you for entering.  The contest week that we forecasted for begins at midnight Saturday night, and it may very well be raining in Kansas City at that time.  Here is the spread of forecasts for the specific question, the tie breaker question.  How much rain will fall at KCI Airport between May 24th and 30th?

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 2.12.34 PM

As you can see on the above graph, the 179 forecasts are all plotted out here with amounts ranging from none to over 6 inches.  This is just one of the five questions asked. The winner is going to need to get the first four questions right, and then this one goes into play. Again, good luck. We will keep track of the answers as we move through the week.

  • Q1: How much rain will fall in Kansas City, at KCI Airport, between May 24th and 30th?
    A: Over 1.25″=108 Under 1.25″=71
  • Q2: How much rain will fall in Chicago, IL, at O’Hare airport, between May 24th and 30th?
    A: Over 1.00″=124 Under 1.00″=55
  • Q3: What will the hottest temperature be in Palm Springs at the PSP airport between May 24th and 30th?
    A: Over 100F=64 Under 100F=115
  • Q4: What will the lowest temperature be in Boston, MA between May 24th and 30th, at Boston Logan Airport?
    A: Over 52F=22 52° or lower=157
  • Bonus Question: Exactly how much rain (in inches) will fall at KCI Airport between May 24th and 30th?
    Mean/Average: 1.66 inches
    Median/Middle Number: 1.47 inches
    Mode/Most common answer: Tie 0.75 inches and 1.75 inches (6 people each)


Memorial Day weekend is starting. Let’s take a look at the weather pattern

We are in a cool May weather pattern right now and there are frost and freeze warnings now issued for the inland areas of the northeastern states.  Here are the advisories in effect as of this morning across the United States:


A slow moving storm system is approaching the plains states.  This will be a rain producing machine and many spots will likely end up with way too much rain during the next few days. Flooding is the main risk type. There will also be some severe weather with the most likely spots for large hail, damaging winds, and a few tornadoes to be located over the western plains. Here is Saturday’s Severe Weather Outlook:


We will continue to monitor the severe weather risk from day to day. As this slow moving storm system approaches it will begin producing excessive rainfall once again. Here is one of the forecasts for rainfall totals ending late on Memorial Day.  The red areas indicate 3 inches or more:

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 7.35.14 AM

What is causing this?  A high amplitude pattern has developed.  Here is the 500 mb flow at 7 AM Central today:


Take a look at the pattern at the end of December, below, and compare it to the flow aloft today, above. The upper lows are even in almost exactly the same spot over the southwestern United States.  The same pattern has returned and right on schedule. New Year’s Eve is 142 days before May 22nd. We have been describing this 43 to 50 day cycle, centered on 46.5 days since it set up last fall. 142 days is a 47.3 day cycle.

LRC Cycle 2 GFS December 31

In late December into early January, this storm system began developing on December 29th and it took seven days to finally pass Kansas City on January 4th.  We were at the beginning of the cold phase of this year’s pattern then, just like we are right now on May 22nd.  About an inch of snow fell in Kansas City during this December 29th to January 4th stretch as we were deep into the cold air.  In Dallas, they had three days of a cold rain, some snow at the beginning with 1 to 2 inches of rain falling. This time we are expecting a flood!

I am going to my first Royals game of the year tonight. The St. Louis Cardinals are in town, two of the best teams in Major League Baseball going battling tonight. There is an area of rain heading this way. It will weaken, but I do expect some rain showers this afternoon and evening.

Thank you for sharing in this LRC Forecast Experience blog.  Let me know what you think of this latest comparison. Have a great and safe holiday weekend.


The cool pattern continues

Good morning Weather2020 bloggers,

We are suddenly in this cooler pattern, and it has been quite wet across parts of the plains states.  Here is the rainfall map showing precipitation over the past 30 days from April 20th to May 20th.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 8.18.10 AM

As you can see, it has been getting quite wet over the plains states. This next map shows the percentage of average:

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 8.22.46 AM

Kansas City is very close to average on the year, with below average rainfall to our northeast and way above average precipitation (including melted down snow) over Colorado and most of Texas and New Mexico.  This wet trend will continue in the next couple of weeks. Let’s look at the weather pattern setting up now:

Let’s begin with the 06z (1 AM Central) computer model run of the GFS.  As you can see there is a large area of 5 to 10 inches of rain forecast to accumulate during the next two weeks down the Missouri River along the Nebraska/Iowa border south down the Missouri/Kansas state line into Oklahoma. Surrounding this area is a huge 3″ plus forecast from Oklahoma and Kansas east to Florida and south into Texas.


Let’s look at the weekend set-up

A very slow moving storm system will be drifting eastward into the Rocky Mountain states over the next three to four days. Disturbances rotating around this system will bring rounds of rain and thunderstorms to many areas.  Here is the upper level flow forecast valid at 1 AM Sunday:



I just looked at the morning NAM model. And, it is quite wet. We are likely heading into a rather wet weekend pattern and I will write up another blog later tonight.  Have a  great day everyone. I just worked 17 days in a row, so I am taking a couple of days off from 41 Action News.

Glen Hemberger took this great picture near 143rd & Nall Saturday night as the thunderstorms were moving through.  This is about the time that the supercell thunderstorm was producing tornadoes just off to the northeast of Kansas City.



Summer Forecast For Kansas City

Good morning Weather 2020 bloggers,

On a very cool May morning we can discuss the summer forecast.  Here is the link to the summer forecast that I presented last night on 41 Action News. I did get a bit technical in the discussion, but still made some conclusions on what will likely happen this summer: Kansas City’s Summer Forecast

The new data is coming out this morning. There has been a trend for days now for the models to pick up on this cold phase of the cycling pattern and produce tremendous amounts of rain in the plains. The flooding across Oklahoma and Texas will likely continue to worsen and the water will continue to rise farther north.  The bright orange area indicates five to ten inches of rain within the next two weeks.  That is one of the largest five to ten inch areas I have ever seen on the models. Our forecast based on the LRC predicted it would get wet in the second half of May, but this could be way too much.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 8.02.08 AM

Have a great day! And, thank you for joining in on the LRC Forecast discussion.


Weather2020 Contest Update

Good morning Weather2020 bloggers,

The Summer Forecast Is On 41 Action News at 10 PM tonight. If you are out of town you can watch it on!

We had a very good response to our first long range weather forecasting contest. The week we forecasted for begins on Sunday.  Here are the questions. We have already passed the deadline, so you can no longer enter. We will have our second contest beginning in a couple of weeks.

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 2.42.58 PM

179 people entered the contest.  Let’s take a look at the spread of answers:

  • Q1: How much rain will fall in Kansas City, at KCI Airport, between May 24th and 30th?
    A: Over 1.25″=108 Under 1.25″=71
  • Q2: How much rain will fall in Chicago, IL, at O’Hare airport, between May 24th and 30th?
    A: Over 1.00″=124 Under 1.00″=55
  • Q3: What will the hottest temperature be in Palm Springs at the PSP airport between May 24th and 30th?
    A: Over 100F=64 Under 100F=115
  • Q1: What will the lowest temperature be in Boston, MA between May 24th and 30th, at Boston Logan Airport?
    A: Over 52F=22   52° or lower=157

Bonus Question: Exactly how much rain (in inches) will fall at KCI Airport between May 24th and 30th?
Mean/Average: 1.66 inches
Median/Middle Number: 1.47 inches
Mode/Most common answer: Tie 0.75 inches and 1.75 inches (6 people each)

Here is the spread of answers from near zero to over 6 inches:

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 2.12.34 PM

Today’s Weather Discussion

It has been a very busy couple of weekends for our weather team at 41 Action News. Saturday night we had a tornado touch down in Jackson County just northeast of Kansas City, and then this tornado increased in strength becoming an EF2 near Orrick, Missouri. There was significant flooding in a few spots that had over 4 inches of rain in less than two hours. Mosby, MO was one of the heaviest hit areas.


The thunderstorms most likely to produce tornadoes are the ones that are just ahead of the main line of thunderstorms. There a reasons for this, the biggest of which is that these supercells are by themselves and usually can utilize an untapped environment of warm and moist air. This cell was moving due north at 55 mph.

The weather has calmed down for a couple of days. The next storm system is moving out into the plains today, and it will likely produce snow over western Nebraska later today and tonight.  This is not a strong storm system, and really it is just a fast moving series of waves in the upper levels of the atmosphere coming across a cold May air mass.  The stronger storm system is forming farther west and it will have an impact on the holiday weekend weather forecast. The models are all over the place on this next system and I will address it in tomorrow’s blog.

From Jack, one of our bloggers in yesterday’s comments:  “Good afternoon, Gary! I always notice when you compare maps using the LRC how closely they look. It is quite amazing how storms really do repeat themselves. So what are we looking at this weekend? Is it something to get really excited for, or will it miss us again? I know you always say “this year, we are not in the right spot.” Well, you seem much more confident about this storm than past storms.

What I noticed about last weekends storm is how the brunt of the severe weather was not in the area in the warm sector closest to the triply point in central Kansas, it was down in southern Oklahoma and Texas. Using this storms to predict future ones, quite possibly like this weekend’s one, the targeted area could be further south of the triple on the dry line. But what was different for us than past storms on that one was that we had a lot of sunshine and were very unstable. The morning convection then intensified right to our east and we had an enhanced slight risk type of day, not moderate, but still some severe weather.

With all that said, we need to look where the forcing mechanism is going to reside in this storm. Will it stay in southwest of us keeping the main risks in in south central Kansas and in Oklahoma like it already has many times, or will it move more northeast targeting our area. Gary, what are you thinking so far on the setups you have seen from the models so far? Where will the low and dry line set up and is there anything unique about this storm? I know it’s early, but I was just wondering what you thought of my thoughts and wanted to hear yours. After all, I am striving to be a meteorologist one day. Thanks, Gary. Have a great day!”

Let me address the questions, and thank you so much Jack for posting such a well thought out message.

In each storm system thus far, and I believe it has happened every single time this season, the bigger severe weather risks were significantly affected by rain cooled air. And, not just a little bit of rain cooled air. Thunderstorms would begin forming around 3 to 5 AM due south of the biggest risk areas and then this rain & thunderstorm area would persist long enough into the afternoon to stabilize the lower levels of the atmosphere. This latest version stabilized it so much that north and northeast of the triple point never produced any big thunderstorms and the moderate risk was a bust.  In other storm systems there was just enough instability to produce tornadoes northeast of the triple point but they were not strong tornadoes.  Kansas City has not been in the right spot since this pattern set up, with a few exceptions. We have had some heavy rain events, and they often have intensified right near the Kansas/Missouri border. This did happen Saturday night/Sunday morning.  The energy from these storm systems have consistently been timed poorly for storm chasers in our area. The energy from this latest storm was strong, and it finally hit the line around 11 PM Saturday night. The thunderstorms pulsed up and the supercell formed ahead of the line in response to this energy.

Now, as usual, the models are all over the place with this weekend’s set-up.  The weather pattern is currently amplifying, in other words becoming high amplitude. A huge ridge is forming over the eastern Pacific way up into northwestern Canada. And, this next storm is digging underneath this ridge. This later May version of the pattern in LRC Cycle 5, which is about to go into the beginning of LRC Cycle 6 within ten days, will likely see this storm being impacted. It will eventually come out into the plains, but will it come out in pieces or in full force?  The trend on the models has been for it to come out in pieces. So, my confidence in the strong severe weather set-ups this weekend has waned way down to low.

Have a great day everyone. And thank you Jack, and everyone else for participating in this LRC Forecast Experience Blog.  And, good luck in the contest. Someone will win $100!