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Weather Maps and Images: Forecast Help Page
for Oklahoma City (KOKC), Oklahoma

Below are links to categories of weather information intended to help you make your regular forecasts, along with brief statements about each category.

Surface Analyses (for KOKC)
Upper Air Maps (for KOKC)
Model Forecasts (for KOKC)
Satellite Imagery
Radar Imagery (for KOKC)

Surface Analyses

Surface maps display various quantities such as sea-level pressure (based on observed surface pressure), observed surface temperature, and observed surface dewpoint temperature. Low and high sea-level pressure centers and fronts are drawn on some maps. These can be used to track areas of low pressure (usually producing cloudiness and precipitation) and high pressure (usually clearer weather).

Upper Air Maps

Upper air maps show conditions in the atmosphere at levels above sea level. The 300 and 500 mb maps (middle and upper troposphere) help us identify the jet stream position and show the positions of troughs and ridges, which are often associated with areas of stormy or fair weather. The 850 mb map (lower troposphere) can be used to indicate the presence or absence of moisture available for precipitation. Temperature and dew point temperature soundings (recorded by radiosondes) can tell us about atmospheric stability.

Model Forecasts

Computer forecast models start with current weather conditions and project how conditions will change in the coming hours and days. The model output must be interpreted or "translated" to conditions at particular places, since most models don't provide very much detail. Computer projections are not always correct; they only as good as the observations provided to them to initiate the forecast, for example. These are good for general guidance, particularly if you don't rely on them for forecasts to far into the future (usually beyond 3-5 days).

Satellite Imagery

Satellite observations show current or recent cloud conditions. The visible image gives a "camera shot" from space during the day. The infrared shows temperatures of cloud tops and land, ocean, and snow/ice surfaces (but not air temperatures); it is useful during the day or night, particularly for shown the locations of deep, high-topped clouds (deep cumulus clouds) that are capable of producing precipitaiton. 

Radar Imagery

Radar imagery displays areas where precipitation is occurring in liquid or solid form.  This is not a forecast product, but rather a depiction of current or recent conditions.  A radar loop can be used show the progression of precipitation over several hours.

Last updated 3/30/10.

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