Upon receiving updates from the Storm Prediction Center, it appears that much of our area is at risk for some severe weather this afternoon. At the top of this article, you can find the outlook map provided by the SPC. Damaging straight-line winds are likely as well as large hail, with an increased tornado threat for our viewers in Southwest Virginia and Southeast Kentucky. While this isn't something that happens often, it's important to prepare accordingly, should severe weather affect you and your family. Like always, I like to start this by saying "Be prepared, not scared!"
Being scared leads to acting frantic and making poor decisions. Rather, when potentially severe weather is forecast, taking a minute to prepare is helpful. Being prepared allows you to make smart and reasonable decisions when strong storms approach.
Over the past two days or so, the Storm Prediction Center as well as the StormTrack 5 team have been keeping a close eye on the potential for thunderstorm development Sunday afternoon and evening.
In previous posts, I've talked about how heat and moisture contribute to an unstable atmosphere and how lift is the trigger for further development. The graphic below shows the weather set-up we're dealing with Sunday:
Our instability comes from the fact that, yet again, we have high pressure in the Gulf of Mexico feeding us with warm and moist air. A strong cold front moves in from the northwest, providing us with lift at the time of maximum heating. This is where we face the likelihood for severe weather to begin developing. Usually during the summer-time, these fronts are rather weak, because they lack the upper level energy to really pack a punch. This time around, the upper level energy is clear as day. This energy comes from the fact that an upper level wind maximum, the jet stream, is helping guide the system along (so to speak). This jet stream separates warmer air to the south from cooler air to the north. That temperature difference can sometimes act to strengthen the boundary.
AHEAD of this front is where most of the activity will be as it is the lifting mechanism that could help trigger some storms. Wind differences in between the surface and upper levels will help maintain storm organization this afternoon and evening, with rotation possible in some. (Sidenote: Its cooling affects won't be felt until Monday.)
What should we expect? As it stands right now, it seems as though thunderstorms are most likely from mid-afternoon into the late evening. Solid time frames are not yet known, and we will be watching radar models along with talking frequently with National Weather Service staff. The best timing estimate at this point is 4 pm and midnight. Any little change in the atmospheric ingredients could make a big difference in how the forecast pans out, as the atmosphere is in a volatile state.
Have a severe weather safety plan. Sometimes, the best way to put this is just to be weather aware. Know where your safe place is, and what things you need in order to stay safe and informed. Keep a flashlight with batteries should the power go out. Keep tabs with us on the air, here on WCYB.com, or with our StormTrack 5 Mobile App. Another wonderful thing to invest in is a NOAA Weather Radio which will sound when a warning is in effect for your area.
Now is the time to prepare! Be prepared, not scared! We'll be watching things and alerting you to any potential dangers that may arise.
---Meteorologist David Boyd---
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---Meteorologist Chris Michaels---
Facebook: Chris Michaels WCYB