The Thunderstorm Cookbook: Sunday 7-27-14

Once again, we are being put under a risk area for severe weather this summer.  While it hasn't happened very often this summer, it is still something we contend with every now and then.  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 day 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.  Much of the viewing area is under the slight risk, while extreme northern parts of the viewing area are in the moderate risk (parts of Buchanan County, VA). This map can be found at the top of this blog post. 

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. 

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.  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.  (Sidenote: Its cooling affects won't be felt until Monday.)

From an atmospheric ingredients perspective, the atmosphere is primed for thunderstorm development.  I always refer to the lift as the tug on the lawn mower or four-wheeler that gets things going. 

What should we expect? A few showers and thunderstorms are possible Sunday morning, but 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, but here seems to be the general consensus for the START time:

High winds and large hail remain the main threats with this system.  Any storm could produce heavy downpours which would lead to localized flooding and frequent cloud-to-ground lightning.  Isolated tornadoes are also not out of the question.

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.  Keep tabs with us on the air, here on, 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, we do think it's necessary to have a plan in case your area is affected by strong to severe storms.  Be prepared, not scared!  We'll be watching things and alerting you to any potential dangers that may arise.

---Meteorologist David Boyd---

Facebook: David Boyd WCYB

Twitter: @WCYB_DavidBoyd


---Meteorologist Chris Michaels---

Facebook: Chris Michaels WCYB

Twitter: @WCYB_Michaels


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