We started off the day with widespread showers and thunderstorms, but fortunately no severe weather. As the morning rain moves farther to the east and dissipates, we’ll see some breaks in the clouds by midday and this afternoon. The mid-May sunshine will push high temperatures up into the 80s:
That kind of warmth, combined with the humidity that’s already in place, will allow the atmosphere to re-charge for the potential of stronger storms this evening and tonight. Why such a heavy emphasis on “potential”? Because it’s far from certain that the storms will happen in our neck of the woods when the best severe-weather ingredients are in place. The best mix of instability (to fuel the storms) and wind shear (to organize the storms) will be present this evening and early tonight…basically, until about midnight. The Storm Prediction Center’s short-range ensemble forecast (SREF) model shows a favorable “supercell composite index” in that time frame:
But that’s meaningless unless thunderstorms actually develop to take advantage of those ingredients. The SREF model only estimates a 50-50 chance of that happening, at the highest:
Two of our Futurecast models, the RPM and BAMS, show storms developing along the Ohio River this evening, with some storms then developing southward into the Midstate late this evening and overnight. They don’t necessarily look impressive on the radar simulation, but that’s right in the time frame when the severe weather ingredients will be most favorable:
Both models also agree that the most widespread thunderstorm activity will be later in the night, after the best severe weather setup has diminished. That doesn’t the mean the storms won’t be capable of becoming severe, it just means the severe threat won’t be as widespread:
However, a third model, the high-resolution rapid-refresh model (HRRR), keeps the Midstate dry through the end of its data run at 10pm:
Just to complicate things, I’m not willing to rule out the possibility that storms develop ahead of schedule, in the late afternoon and early evening. There are just too many uncertainties with this kind of loosely-organized storm system.
All in all, it adds up to a “conditional” severe weather threat: IF storms move into the Midstate, and IF they move in early enough, damaging winds and hail will be possible:
The tornado threat should stay farther to our north, along the Ohio River, but we’ll keep an eye out for signs of rotation, just in case.
The Storm Prediction Center has outlined a “Slight Risk” (level 2 of 5) of severe weather along and north of I-40 — we’re on the southern fringe of that risk area, so it’s possible the SPC will trim it back even farther if it looks like the storms will avoid us.
The “Enhanced Risk” (level 3 of 5) region is just off to our north, which coincides with the greatest tornado threat:
Within the Slight Risk region, SPC estimates a 15% chance of 60+mph wind gusts or 1″+ diameter hail within 25 miles:
More scattered storms are in the forecast tomorrow and Thursday, but the severe weather threat should be lower. Warm and muggy conditions will prevail in between the storms, until we dry out and cool down for the end of the work week and the weekend:
Some weather stuff to lead off, then a smattering of other nerdiness…
- Multiple violent tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma yesterday — some of the video captured by storm-chasers is ridiculous.
- More tornado video: the tornado near Wray, CO over the weekend was captured on a 360-degree camera.
- The weather is finally a bit more favorable for the effort to contain the Fort McMurray wildfire in Canada.
- The soot from wildfires could have an impact on the landscape thousands of miles away.
- New research indicates that Earth’s atmosphere used to be much MUCH thinner.
- A bunch of small earthquakes indicates that Mount St. Helens might be “re-charging.”
- The clouds kept us from observing it here yesterday, so here are some of the best views of Mercury’s transit across the face of the Sun.
- Toward the bottom of this article, a little about why planetary transits are an important part of the search for planets outside our own solar system.
- We’ve got wireless phones, wireless internet, and wireless speakers…what about wireless power?