Sporadic Severe Weather Possible Today across southern U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Isolated severe thunderstorms are possible across the Gulf Coast and the Mid-Atlantic, as well in to parts of central Pennsylvania. The cold front continues to move eastward across the Appalachian Mountains. Heavy showers and a few strong gusts are possible in the Mid-Atlantic and central Appalachia. Meanwhile in the southern U.S., ongoing heavy thunderstorm activity will influence the potential for an isolated severe gust or two, with a low chance of medium sized to large hail.

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This afternoon’s Severe Weather Outlook via the Storm Prediction Center.

Discussion… For the Gulf Coast, morning sounding observations showed a modestly unstable environment with instability near 1,000 to 1,500j/kg. While surface to mid-level wind fields appear relatively weak i.e. 20-30 knots average, an upper-level jet streak is moving over the region and will potentially aid upper air forcing, allotting isolated medium to large hail perhaps to 1.0 inch in diameter. A large, multi-cellular cluster of thunderstorms over the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico continues to move east-northeast along an axis of robust theta-E advection (theta-E is potential temperature in air parcels). Kinematic and thermodynamic analyzations off the current mesoscale analysis indicate water loading and high precipitable water values near 0.75″ – 1.00″ of liquid; flash flooding could be possible across the southern Gulf states. Doppler radar scans indicate very heavy precipitation in the stronger cores and I will mention the possibility of an isolated wet-microburst across eastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and Alabama as storms move inland.

3:26 LIX Sounding

1200z / 8am EDT observed sounding from Slidell, Louisiana. Image via the Storm Prediction Center.

 

Mid-Atlantic and central Pennsylvania / Appalachia… The warm front continues to drift northeastward through the region where surface temperatures have warmed into the middle-upper 60s and into the lower 70s. Despite ambient cloud cover hindering any robust surface heating, moisture content and water loading could yield an isolated strong gust or two as storms migrate into the region later this afternoon. The 1200z observed soundings from Washington D.C. and Wallops Island, Virginia, indicate meager CAPE (instability) values near 500-750j/kg. While instability is fairly weak, the low-level jet is near 40+/- knots and winds become more unidirectional in the mid-levels, increasing to 50-60 knots. The unidirectional wind shear will enhance the potential for an isolated damaging wind event if storms can become strong enough with the ongoing clearing in central Appalachia based off the visible satellite. Also, a small to medium sized hail event, up to penny size, cannot be ruled out. Heavy rain could be possible in any organized cluster of thunderstorms, so minor flash flooding of urban creeks and streams is possible across the region.

3:26 IAD Sounding

1200z / 8am EDT observed sounding from Washington D.C. Image via the Storm Prediction Center.

While the severe weather risk if much lower today, the main hazards will be possible flash flooding and isolated wind events. Remember: If a roadway is flooded, turn around and don’t drown! An update will be issued if/as needed later this evening if flood potential enhances across the eastern portion of the nation. This forecast is valid through tonight.

…Forecast initialized 2:28pm EDT / 1828z, 3/26/15…

– Student Meteorologist Harrison Sincavage, Penn State University.

 

First Tornado Warning In March Occurs in Arkansas

Image courtesy of National Severe Storms Labratory.

Image courtesy of National Severe Storms Labratory.

LOWELL, AR – It took awhile, but Mother Nature finally got back in rhythm on Wednesday when severe weather  produced tornadoes across Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The first tornado warning for the month of March in the U.S. occurred at 4:51 p.m. CDT on Wednesday when a severe thunderstorm was capable of producing a tornado near Lowell, Arkansas.  The warning was issued for portions of Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties.

There would be 19 more tornado warnings issued throughout the evening with at least 8 reports of twisters according to the Storm Prediction Center.  The hardest hit area was 4 miles west of Sand Springs, Oklahoma where 1 person was killed as the result of damage in a mobile home park.

In addition, large hail the size of softballs fell in Chandler Park in Tulsa creating vehicle and property damage.

Image courtesy of RadioInsight.com

Image courtesy of RadioInsight.com

Moore, Oklahoma, a city that was hit hard by deadly tornadoes in 1999, 2003 and 2013 was struck again by high winds and a tornado on Wednesday.

The storm was blamed for widespread structural damage and toppled 2 of the 3 KOKC-AM radio towers with the third being snapped in half.

Severe Weather Underway in south-central Plains

Severe weather is underway in the south-central Plains, where a Severe Thunderstorm Watch is effective for northwest Arkansas, southeastern Kansas, southwest Missouri and east-central Oklahoma until 10:00pm CDT. Primary hazards include extremely large hail to 2.5 inches in diameter (baseballs), scattered destructive wind gusts to 70MPH and perhaps some tornadoes.

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Severe Thunderstorm Watch polygon valid until 10pm CDT. Image via the Storm Prediction Center.

 

Discussion… The 1800z / 1pm CDT radiosonde launched from the Springfield, Missouri National Weather Service office was destroyed before reaching the mid-levels of the atmosphere due to ongoing severe thunderstorm activity. Regardless, the latest 1-km visible satellite imagery over central Oklahoma reveals elevated cumulus convection east of the dry line. The potential for severe hail is increasing exponentially over central and northeastern Oklahoma. Hodograph curvature suggests discrete supercell development is possible initially, but interaction with the outflow boundary in extreme southeastern Kansas may delineate broken lines/ quasi-linear storm structure in the afternoon.

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1-km visible satellite imagery valid 2:30pm CDT. Image via the College of DuPage

The dry line is currently positioned in west-central Oklahoma and with a stationary front now over north-central Oklahoma into Missouri, widespread development of storms are possible, quickly merging. Any broken lines or quasi-linear segments will have the potential to produce very heavy rain as well; flash flooding is possible. Boundary layer moistening and steepening lapse rates (rate at which air parcels cool) will result in extremely large hail within high precipitation, or HP, supercells. In the later part of the afternoon as the cold front undercuts moisture and relative inflow, storms will have the potential to gust out and perhaps become outflow dominant which will diminish the tornado threat. Maximum cloud tops will be near 50,000ft based off of morning sounding data (see the 1448z morning forecast update). Mean storm motion is west-southwest at 35 knots.

 

Be sure to listen to your NOAA Weather Radio and heed any warnings that are issued by the National Weather Service.

…Forecast initialized 2:55pm CDT / 1955z, 3/25/15…

– Student Meteorologist Harrison Sincavage, Penn State University

 

Significant Severe Weather Likely in southern Plains Today

Severe weather will pick up once again today in the southern Plains. The potential exists for severe storm development in the afternoon, and a few supercells will be capable of producing extremely large hail, perhaps to 3.0 inches in diameter. Additionally, scattered damaging winds and an isolated tornado are possible across the southern Plains and eventually into the Ozark mountain region as storms evolve into a quasi-linear segment / squall line. The 12z / 7am CDT observed sounding from Norman, Oklahoma, analyzed an increasingly unstable atmosphere influenced by a capping inversion. Although, surface to low-level winds remain quite weak before turning clockwise in the mid-levels. Upper air forcing will lead to the development of discrete cells despite a lack of more robust surface heating this afternoon over northeastern Oklahoma; however, storms are expected to merge over the latter part of the afternoon. Very heavy rain is possible as previously mentioned over the past few days as well, and supercells may likely become HP (high precipitation).

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12z / 7am CDT observed sounding from Norman, Oklahoma, on 3/25/15. Image via the Storm Prediction Center.

Wind fields are expected to strengthen over central Oklahoma this afternoon, with a 55-65 knot mid-level jet streak arriving as a low starts to propagate eastward. The low-level jet will strengthen to near 50 knots as well given an axis of extreme low-level theta-E advection (theta-E is potential temperature in air parcels) ahead of the cold front. As I mentioned last night, there is a caveat to the tornado potential. While some supercells may be impressive hail producers, the interaction of storms lining up ahead of the cold front and dry line may result in some tornadic activity. The overall tornado threat looks to be on the low side as the cold front will eventually move eastward, undercutting moisture and instability, as well as weakening mid-level winds aloft.

3:25 morning analysis

Surface analysis over the south-central Plains valid 9:00am CDT. Image via the Storm Prediction Center.

The surface analysis above analyzed a warm front draped across central Oklahoma into the Ozark Plateau. A low was positioned in the Texas Panhandle, with a cold front extending west-southwestward into New Mexico. The dry line retreated overnight to the Texas/New Mexico border and is in far western Oklahoma. As the base of the trough arrives and the low-level jet strengthens this afternoon, storms are expected to fire (perhaps discretely) before increasing in coverage. Current storm motion vectors are projected to be west-southwest at about 30 knots roughly. Cloud tops could be 50,000ft based off the equilibrium level heights (height where atmosphere becomes stable again) on the Norman observed sounding. We will be monitoring satellite imagery and if the NWS Norman does an afternoon radiosonde launch for more observed data.

 

Be sure to have your NOAA Weather Radio turned on today, as the hazard for destructive hail is very possible.

…Forecast initialized 9:48am CDT / 1448z, 3/25/15…

– Student Meteorologist Harrison Sincavage, Penn State University

 

Severe Weather Likely Again Tomorrow for South-Central Plains

After an active afternoon and evening across the southeastern Great Plains into the northwestern Ozark Mountain region, the severe weather threat will continue tomorrow as an upper-level trough moves over central Oklahoma. Currently, a quasi-linear line of weakening thunderstorms continues to move east through central Missouri as the storms diminish due to erosion of the low-level jet and loss of surface heating. Flood Watches are in effect at this time (9:10pm CDT) for central Missouri. At 9:43pm CDT, the low associated with today’s severe weather was positioned over central Missouri, with the cold front trailing behind the majority of ongoing activity. A cold front was draped over the southern Plains and is interacting with another low centered along the northern Texas and southern Oklahoma borders, where the dry line will continue to retreat westward overnight.

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Surface analysis valid 8:43pm CDT. Image via the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

 

The severe weather threat continues into tomorrow afternoon as another low associated with an upper-level trough moves over the south-central Plains. The low is forecasted to deepen to 1002mb by the afternoon and be positioned in the Texas Panhandle as per the latest 00z NAM models. Latest forecast soundings indicate strong to extreme instability, with very large CAPE between 2,000 to 3,000j/kg in the mid-levels and steep lapse rates (rate at which air parcels cool as they rise). This, accompanied with clockwise curving hodographs and deep bulk shear values near 50-60 knots suggests supercell development tomorrow afternoon across the central Oklahoma region. Supercells will be capable of producing very large to extremely large hail, perhaps near 3.0 inches in diameter, in the most intense cores. Additionally, supercells will be capable of producing damaging winds and perhaps an isolated tornado. The caveat to the tornado threat is the cold front undercutting instability in the later part of the afternoon and evening, which will decrease the tornado threat drastically. Regardless, storm coverage is expected to increase as mid-level storm relative winds suggest storm mergers and multi-cellular development after discrete cells initiate in the afternoon. The amplified upper-level trough will enter a more zonal flow environment and possibly develop a quasi-linear convective system (QLCS) or squall line that will propagate eastward rapidly before weakening tomorrow night.

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00z NAM forecast sounding valid for 4pm CDT, 3/25/15, for Norman, Oklahoma. Image via the College of DuPage. 

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00z NAM forecast hodograph valid for 4pm CDT, 3/25/15, for Norman, Oklahoma. Image via the College of DuPage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice the surface winds are directly out of the south tomorrow afternoon before veering (shifting clockwise) in the low-levels as the low-level jet strengthens again. The interaction with the low and the dry line may cause rapid storm development and could perhaps cause storms to line up along the dry line tomorrow afternoon. Storms may become severe rather quickly if and when the forecasted cap becomes breakable. At this time, storm motion vectors appear to be west-southwest at about 30-35 knots with cumulonimbi tops near 50,000ft. We will rely on observed sounding tomorrow morning and any afternoon soundings that are launched to hone in on cloud top heights and mean storm motion. Again, the main storm hazards tomorrow will be very large hail and damaging winds, and perhaps a tornado.

 

Remember to have your NOAA Weather Radio turned on tomorrow, as the weather can change quickly.

 

…Forecast initialized 9:37pm CDT / 0237z, 3/24/15…

– Student Meteorologist Harrison Sincavage, Penn State University.

 

 

 

Convective Initiation Likely This Afternoon in southeastern Plains

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch is likely to be issued soon in the southeastern Great Plains, particularly west-central Missouri, northeastern Oklahoma and far eastern Kansas. The threat is increasing for potentially large hail and damaging winds as storms are expected to initiate in the next hour or two.

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Mesoscale Discussion on the Severe Threat via the Storm Prediction Center.

A 1008mb surface low has been analyzed in southeastern Kansas, with a warm front drifting northward rather quickly which is increasing moisture and instability to near 1,500j/kg. A 60 knot mid-level jet streak has arrived in central Kansas and will continue to surge eastward over the course of the afternoon, coincident with a strengthening 40-45 knot low-level jet centered over southwestern Missouri. Hodograph curvature is suggestive of veering winds aloft which will enhance the potential for very large hail. Severe thunderstorms and even a few supercells are likely and will be capable of producing very large hail and perhaps a tornado over the region. Latest visible satellite imagery unveils gravity waves over southern Missouri, with cumulus convection in northeastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas into extreme southern Missouri.

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2-km visible satellite image valid 3:00pm CDT. Image via the College of DuPage.

Upper-air forcing and large scale ascent ahead of the slow moving cold front will result in rapid development of thunderstorms, perhaps becoming severe quickly. Multicellular clusters are possible and with strong mid-level winds it will enhance the potential for damaging outflow winds on top of large hail. Mean storm motion vectors appear to be southwest at about 40 knots.

…Forecast update initialized 2:50pm CDT / 1950z, 3/24/15…

– Student Meteorologist Harrison Sincavage, Penn State University

 

 

School District Uses “Blizzard Bags” to Keep Students Working on Snow Days

Image courtesy of WILX-TV

Image courtesy of WILX-TV

DERRY, NH – One New Hampshire school district has created a way for students to keep working when classes are cancelled due to winter weather.

Derry Cooperative School District has experienced repeated interruptions that kept kids from classwork, according to school administrators.  Therefore, “blizzard bags” are designed to keep students up with their studies.

Blizzard bags contain assignments that students complete when they are home on days that school is not in session due to inclement weather or other emergencies.  Officials say the assignments are due the day students return, but they may be given an additional five days to finalize their work.

Unionleader.com says administrators told school board officials that a blizzard forced classes to be called off on January 27th and 28th.  Another snow day was declared on February 16th.

Blizzard bags were used by the entire district on February 2nd and 9th.

Severe Thunderstorms Likely Today in the southeastern Great Plains, Risk Continues Tomorrow

Severe Thunderstorm activity is likely later this afternoon in the southeastern Great Plains, especially in northeastern Oklahoma, southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas. The 7am CDT morning sounding from Springfield, Missouri indicated a moist surface layer with a warm nose just aloft before temperatures cool again 1,500ft above the surface. Drier air is in place in the low-levels of the atmosphere, but a mid-level stratocumulus deck continues to move in behind already ongoing thunderstorm activity in central Missouri as of 8:32am CDT.

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Today’s Severe Weather Outlook for 3/24/15. Image via the Storm Prediction Center.

Current thunderstorm activity in central Missouri continues to move eastward and is expected to clear out by early afternoon. Here is the current visible satellite image and observed sounding seen below.

Visible satellite image valid 8:45am CDT. Image via the College of DuPage.

 

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1200z / 7am CDT observed sounding analysis from Springfield, Missouri. Image via the Storm Prediction Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An amplified mid-level jet streak is expected to arrive over central Kansas and into Missouri later this afternoon. The wave is associated with an ejecting trough over the central Plains, and the potential exists this afternoon for severe thunderstorms and the evolution of a few supercells capable of producing damaging winds and isolated large to very large hail. Hodograph curvature analyzed veering winds and an increase in shear a few kilometers above the surface, which will favor the potential for very large hail today. Current mesoscale analyses indicate bulk shear values between 50-60 knots across central Missouri into Kansas, also indicative of a directionally sheared/speed sheared environment. Also previously analyzed on the Springfield observed morning sounding was veering of winds from surface to aloft. Although low-level winds at this time are weak, the low-level jet will strengthen this afternoon with moist, relative inflow which will enhance the severe hail potential across the area. Additionally, a few tornadoes are possible given modest forecasted instability this afternoon and low-level directional shear and upper-level speed shear. Heavy rain may accompany the stronger storm cells as well. Storms are expected to develop this afternoon and at first may be discrete; however, storm mergers are likely as storms congeal near the center of low forecasted to be over west-central Missouri this evening. The current surface data indicates an abundance of moisture return across the region, and dew points are expected to rise into the middle to perhaps upper 50s by the afternoon.

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Surface data chart valid 8:43am CDT. Image courtesy of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

 

While the moisture return will not be too impressive, the axis of the low-level jet will eventually shift eastward later this evening and will cause thunderstorm activity to taper off later tonight as it becomes displaced. Regardless, the main storm hazards today will be very large hail and damaging winds across eastern Kansas and central Missouri. A few tornadoes could be possible as well, but are not the main focus of the set up today. Severe weather is expected to continue tomorrow across the central Plains, and we will have an update later this evening. Storm motion vectors are indicating a southwest storm motion near 35+/- knots; the relative storm velocity may also enhance the coverage of damaging winds.

Remember to have your NOAA Weather Radio turned on today, as the weather can change rapidly in a short period of time.

 

…Forecast valid 1402z / 9:02am CDT, 3/24/15…

– Student Meteorologist Harrison Sincavage, Penn State University

 

 

 

Tuesday’s Severe Weather Risk into Wednesday

The Marginal Risk for severe thunderstorms today proved marginal as no convective activity initiated earlier this afternoon due to a mid-level stratocumulus deck over central Kansas that prevented any robust convection. The cloud deck also inhibited CAPE (atmospheric instability) to about 500-1,000j/kg, and with weakening surface heating coupled with dry dew points, activity did not flare. There is a band of gusty showers moving northeast near the Topeka area as of 8:30pm CDT but will erode later this evening. Here are the current surface observations as of 0113z / 8:13pm CDT. A warm front was positioned in south and west-central Kansas, with a cold front draped along the Kansas and Oklahoma border into Missouri where another weak low is positioned. The dry line was analyzed in west-central Texas where a low sits near the Texas Panhandle

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Surface observations as of 8:13pm CDT, 3/23/15. Image via the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

Despite the lack of inactivity earlier this afternoon, there still could be a chance for an isolated thunderstorm or two in central Kansas as a low-level jet begins to strengthen with surface temperatures still in the 70s. Isentropic upglide (which is the movement of air that is traveling upward along a sloping surface and favors stratiform clouds and precipitation) may cause an isolated cell or two to develop, which in turn may produce hail around one inch in diameter at most.

Heading into Tuesday, a Slight Risk for severe thunderstorms is likely across the southeastern Great Plains into Texarkana.

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Severe Weather Outlook for Tuesday, March 24th, 2015. Image via the NWS Storm Prediction Center.

Tuesday afternoon, a 90-100 knot mid-level jet streak is expected to arrive over central Kansas as a trough ejects across the central Great Plains. With it, a strengthened/strengthening 40-50 knot low-level jet will be positioned over southwestern Missouri and extreme northeastern Oklahoma. Strong speed shear and some directional shear will be in place over the region, with averaged bulk shear values near 50-60 knots. Thunderstorm activity is possible in the afternoon, and the stronger cored cells/supercells will be capable of producing large hail and damaging outflow winds given the strong wind parameters aloft. A rather robust axis of theta-E advection (theta-E is potential temperature in air parcels) will develop east of the slowly moving cold front, which will enhance the development of surface based storms where instability at or around 1,500-2,500j/kg is possible.

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18z NAM mid-level wind speeds valid 4pm CDT Tuesday, 3/23/15. Image via the College of DuPage.

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18z NAM low-level wind speeds valid 4pm CDT Tuesday, 3/23/15. Image via the College of DuPage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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18z NAM mid-level theta-E advection valid 4pm CDT Tuesday, 3/23/15. Image via the College of DuPage.

 

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18z NAM surface temperatures valid 4pm CDT Tuesday, 3/23/15. Image via the College of DuPage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surface temperatures tomorrow afternoon will be very warm across central Oklahoma into southeastern Kansas and southwest Missouri. However, the current position of the warm front over the region as the low begins to accelerate east will cause the low-level jet to shift east. Thunderstorm activity will taper off tomorrow night as wind fields weaken. Given the wind field parameters aloft, storms may initiate as isolated cells but will quickly merge due to the zonal flow and could perhaps become quasi-linear or multi-cellular; heavy rain is also possible in the stronger clusters. Hodograph curvature and relative winds are suggesting a storm motion of about 40 knots out of the southwest, so storms will be moving a bit fast tomorrow which will enhance the damaging outflow wind potential. Aside the main hazards of large hail and damaging winds, an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out either even though directional shear is minimal.

The severe weather potential also continues into Wednesday as well over the central and southeastern Great Plains into the middle Mississippi River Valley, and we will be watching as the forecasts tomorrow pan out. The main storm modes Wednesday appear to be large hail and damaging winds.

 

…Forecast valid 0200z / 9:00pm CDT, 3/23/15…

– Student Meteorologist Harrison Sincavage, Penn State University

 

 

 

 

Severe Weather Possible Today through Wednesday in Central Plains

Convective season has finally arrived across the Central Plains. Today and the next few days appear to be active. A Marginal Risk for severe thunderstorms is possible today across the majority of central Kansas into western Oklahoma and extreme northwestern Texas.

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Today’s Severe Weather Outlook for the Central Plains. Image via the NWS Storm Prediction Center.

The main storm hazard today appears to be large hail, with a minimal risk of damaging winds. The 1200z / 7am CDT observed sounding from Dodge City, Kansas and Topeka, Kansas, analyzed a moisture starved environment with weak surface to low-level winds. Veering (clockwise) shifting winds near the 700mb level, or roughly 1.5 miles up in the air, strengthen to about 25-35 knots. However, winds remain relatively de-amplified as wind shear parameters will be relatively weak today. Given the strengthening, veering, west-northwesterly mid-level flow, colder air aloft will set in over the region thus supporting supercells capable of produce large hail today. Overall today, the severe thunderstorm risk is quite low given weak kinematic and thermodynamic fields. We will be watching the strengthening of wind fields overnight and into tomorrow as a stronger mid-level jet streak arrives given the trough will eject across the central Plains.

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12z / 7am CDT Dodge City, Kansas observed sounding analysis. Image via the NWS Storm Prediction Center.

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12z / 7am CDT Topeka, Kansas observed sounding analysis. Image via the NWS Storm Prediction Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow: Convective activity probabilities increase exponentially across the Central Plains as a rather robust mid-level jet streak, near 80-90 knots, arrives over central Kansas. Coincident with the mid-level jet streak, a strengthening low-level jet at or around 45-50 knots will surge into the southern Plains which will delineate stronger speed shear and directional shear parameters. Thus, a few isolated tornadoes could be possible tomorrow, along with large hail and damaging outflow winds. Moisture will not be too impressive along the front, so a brief period of isolated supercell formation is possible before storms may perhaps line up along a slow moving cold front that is expected to become stationary over north-central Texas tomorrow evening. Thunderstorm activity will taper off tomorrow evening as cells move toward the Texarkana region where the core of the low-level jet will move out of the region and instability weakens tremendously.

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12z NAM mid-level wind analysis valid 21z / 4pm CDT, Tuesday, March 24th. Image via the College of DuPage.

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12z NAM low-level wind analysis valid 21z / 4pm CDT, Tuesday, March 24th. Image via the College of DuPage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thunderstorm initiation will be sparse as aforementioned, but we will be watching to see if storms can line up along the dry line at some point tomorrow afternoon. Forecasted winds aloft and hodograph curvature are suggesting a decent storm motion of about 40 knots out of the southwest. As aforementioned, damaging outflow gusts are possible in the stronger cells. I will post an update later tonight on tomorrow’s convective activity, as well as discussing Wednesday’s potential.

Forecast initialized 12:15pm CDT / 1715z, March 23, 2015.

– Student Meteorologist Harrison Sincavage, Penn State University.