Let me start off again by saying that none of what I am about to write here is meant to scare anyone. 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 48 hours, the Storm Prediction Center as well as the StormTrack 5 team have been keeping a close eye on the potential for thunderstorm development this afternoon and evening. The atmospheric ingredients at play have led the SPC to keep our area in the Slight Risk category for severe weather.
In a previous blog post of mine called, "80s and A Chance of Storms," I talked about how heat and moisture contribute to an unstable atmosphere and how lift is necessary for development. The graphic below shows the weather set-up we're dealing with this afternoon:
Our instability comes from the fact that we have high pressure in the Gulf of Mexico feeding us with warm and moist air, which has been a typical summer-time set up for us. To our west, the blue-toothed object is a cold front. 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 evident. The white, whispy arrows represent the jet stream, an upper level wind maximum that typically separates warmer air to the south from cooler air to the north. In this case, its energy will help move the front into our area and could potentially 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. (Sidenote: Its cooling affects won't be felt until late tomorrow through Thursday.)
From an atmospheric ingredients perspective, the atmosphere is primed for thunderstorm development. The lift is the tug on the lawn mower that gets the engine started.
What should we expect? As it stands right now, it seems as though the best time range for storms would be late afternoon into the evening .
Current radar and precipitation models point towards a weakening line of storms, with some of them still being strong to severe. High winds and large hail remain the main threats with this system. Any storm could produce heavy downpours which would lead to localized flooding.
Have a severe weather plan. Sometimes, the best way to put this is just to be weather aware. If you hear thunder roar, move indoors. Stay in a sturdy structure, away from windows and electrical outlets. Keep a flashlight with batteries should the power go out. If you have power, keep tabs with us on the air 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.
Like I said, this is by no means an emergency statement or call to action. However, it is a friendly reminder that we know the ingredients at play, and want you to know how to be weather aware. Be prepared, not scared! We'll be watching things and alerting you to any potential dangers that may arise.
---Meteorologist Chris Michaels---
Facebook: Chris Michaels WCYB