Spring is a season known for its wild temperatures swings, but they usually aren’t this extreme. In a single day, temperatures climbed 60 to 70 degrees in parts of Oklahoma and Kansas. One town even went from a near-record low temperature to breaking the record high. That is nuts.
The weather whiplash was caused by two strong low pressure systems that moved through the Central United States nearly back to back. The first caused heavy snow in the Midwest, tornadoes in the Southeast and torrential rain in the Northeast. Behind it, winds from the north pushed temperatures well below average for this time of year.
Right on its heels, though, the next storm came out of the Rocky Mountains, flipping the weather from wintry to summery, seemingly overnight.
On Tuesday morning, winds were a slight breeze out of the northeast. By 1 p.m. they were out of the south and gusting to 30 mph or more, pumping in hot, dry air from northern Mexico and Texas. The effect on temperatures was remarkable.
Alva, in north-central Oklahoma, started the day at 33 degrees just before sunrise. Temperature shot up like a rocket after that, eventually capping out at 101, measured by the Oklahoma Mesonet. That’s a temperature rise of 68 degrees.
Dodge City, Kan., started the day below freezing at 28 degrees — four degrees shy of the record cold temperature for the date (set in 1907). Hot, dry wind gusts out of the southwest peaked at 45 mph in the early afternoon. By 4 p.m., Dodge City climbed to 94 degrees and set a record for hottest temperature on the date. The previous record was 93 degrees in 2002.
Similar dramatic temperatures swings happened all over Kansas and Oklahoma on Tuesday. The hot, dry weather fueled the wildfires burning in the region, which firefighters were struggling to control. More than 300,000 acres have burned in Oklahoma over the past week from the Rhea Fire and the 34 Complex.