More Sunshine is Returning as Storm Chances Drop Off

May 18th, 2021
The jet stream will take another dip ahead of the weekend once gain promoting severe weather...
The jet stream will take another dip ahead of the weekend once gain promoting severe weather risks, only this time they will be higher as temperatures are expected to be warmer and the dip in the jet stream larger.(KGWN)
Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 12:05 PM CDT
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After a weekend filled with storms and clouds, many may be wondering when we will finally see the sunshine make a comeback to accompany the spring warmth we’ve been seeing. For much of Wyoming we are beginning to see a bit of that today, but for others we will not be seeing a whole lot of sunshine until we get to Thursday. Regardless the state is expecting to see a lot more sunshine today than we did all weekend or yesterday as a midweek pattern shift takes place.

We are once again seeing the jet stream lift a bit as a weak ridging pattern builds in across much of the US. It’s strong enough to allow temperatures to climb for many of us a bit during the work week and allow some sunshine, but not quite strong enough to keep those spring storms away. It will, however, reduce the amount of those storms we see this week after seeing several the past few days. It will also keep those severe weather chances down as well despite warmer temperatures. This does not mean some areas like Cheyenne can’t see any hail with storms that pass through the area. Hail sizes should remain small though and wind gusts should be limited.

The pleasant effects of the ridge should last into Thursday before another trough comes through over the Pacific Northwest. This one, however, looks to dip further south than the last, which will bring a higher severe weather potential into the weekend beginning Thursday. It will also bring in some stronger winds overall, especially over the weekend and early next week. When looking at a map of the jet stream, the colors that are shown represent geopotential height, or the height above sea level that a certain pressure level is. For the jet stream we look at 250 millibars of pressure. The darker colors represent heights lower to the ground and the lighter colors heights that are higher. As height levels fall over a region, the pressure drops, and stormy weather is likely. This is what happens when a trough moves into an area.

Another thing to note of with these lines is how close or far apart they are from each other. Wind flows with lower heights to the left in the mid-latitudes, and the tighter the height gradient is the faster the wind flows. It’s kind of like a highway for the wind, with a looser height gradient like the interstate with traffic and a tighter height gradient like one that is clear. For this coming weekend in Wyoming, the height gradient will be quite tight with powerful winds flowing from the south. For some, these winds will begin on Friday, but for most the strongest winds will make their way in on Sunday. While these may not be quite as bad as what the state saw on a weekly basis during the winter months, it will most certainly bring back memories of the winter and will be the strongest winds the state has seen in some time since we have warmed up.

The blue arrows represent the wind that will be flowing through Wyoming on Sunday. Note how the...
The blue arrows represent the wind that will be flowing through Wyoming on Sunday. Note how the faster winds move through where the white lines are closer together with the darker colors to the left. Wyoming will be seeing powerful southerly winds over the weekend and early next week.(KGWN)

Temperatures will drop a bit into the weekend thanks to the trough, and any storms that it brings will have rainfall totals factored into next week’s drought monitor. Storm chances look to be highest Friday and Saturday across the state, though some areas will likely begin to see thunderstorm activity Thursday evening.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) -

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