After the rainy Thurby Day we've had, all eyes turn now to the Oaks and Derby forecast. We are thrilled to tell you both days will be dry, but there's another weather element you will need to plan around - ladies in particular.
Friday the wind will be moving in from the northwest, so it won't help us warm up a ton. That wind will also be fairly strong - blowing consistently 15-20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph possible through the day. If you're celebrating Derby weekend at home or planning to head to the track, hold on to your hats!
By Saturday the wind shifts. Now it's moving in from the south, bringing you warmer air. Temperatures will climb a bit higher on Saturday, but the wind will still be breezy. Expect the wind to blow consistently 5-15 mph with gusts up to 20 mph possible.
When talking about a windy forecast, we want to look at what the wind is doing higher up in the atmosphere and how the air pressure is changing down here at the surface.
We start by looking at the jet stream level; think of this as where planes fly. On Friday (the image above) we are on the edge of a jet streak, an area of stronger wind embedded within the larger flow pattern. By Saturday the upper level wind has calmed down because that jet streak has moved farther east within the flow. By Saturday (the image below) we are in an area of convergence - the wind from the northwest and due west both flowing right into our area. Upper-level convergence leads to surface divergence which will keep the sky clear on Derby day.
A little closer to home (around 850 mb) we look for the low level jet. This wind pattern is a little more disturbed, but this also helps us see how the air pressure is changing closer to the ground.
On Friday there is a high pressure center positioned west of us - it's the area where the wind is moving in a circle just north of Wichita in the image above, as opposed to moving in a line. By Saturday (image below) that high pressure center has moved into our area. Both days the low level jet is fairly unremarkable, but you can see how and why the wind is stronger Friday than Saturday.
Temperatures on Oaks Day will be very seasonable (or near-normal for this time of year). We start the day in the 50s and climb into the 70s with that strong northwest breeze blowing through the day.
It's also worth noting Derby morning will be much cooler. Temperatures will dip into the lower 40s in the morning before rebounding nicely back into the middle and upper 70s. All of that with sunshine and a breeze coming out of the south (by the afternoon) should make for a very comfortable Derby Day in the Derby City.