BLOG: The challenge of forecasting highs with stratus clouds

Posted at 10:38 PM, Nov 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-12 23:42:55-05

When I sat down in the weather center Saturday afternoon, I knew a big challenge (among many in Oklahoma) would be the extent of the low stratus clouds Sunday.

One of the computer weather models suggested we could see some clearing during the afternoon. In fact that clearing did come to fruition, but only well south of Tulsa. See the above visible satellite image. 

As you can see from the high temperature image above, McAlester made it to 70° because of the sunshine, while areas to the north were stuck in the 50s because of the cloud cover.

We were on the back side of a cold front Sunday with a persistent north wind. Sometimes behind a cold front you get clearing, but sometimes you have a stratus deck that lingers and it's quite the challenge to forecast if the cloud deck will break.

As a result, forecast high temperatures can be off. In addition, this time of year the sun angle is not ideal to help disperse the clouds and we have less time in the late afternoon and early evening to work with in terms of the sunset.

While it will be fairly gray this week, there are opportunities to see the sun, especially later in the week.