October 20: Strong Storms, Cooler Weather, Daily Links


After three straight days of record high temperatures, the heat wave comes to an end with a good chance of showers and thunderstorms today.  We can expect scattered showers this morning with a few non-severe rumbles of thunder, then a break around midday, as the RPM model’s radar/satellite simulation shows:
rpm-9a-thu rpm-11a-thu rpm-1p-thu
During that break, temperatures will warm up to the mid to upper 70s…maybe even 80 degrees if enough sunshine peeks through the clouds:
The warmer we get, the more the atmosphere will “re-charge” for a better chance of strong to marginally-severe storms this afternoon.  The same forecast model shows the storms firing up in western Middle Tennessee this afternoon, moving toward Metro Nashville around rush hour, then into eastern Middle Tennessee around and just after sunset:
rpm-3p-thu rpm-5p-thu rpm-7p-thu rpm-9p-thu
The HRRR model is in pretty good agreement with that scenario:
It’s never a good idea to put too much faith in one or two specific models, though — averaging out the various models (along with analysis of how these types of storms usually behave) leads us to this estimate of when the strongest storms will affect different parts of the Midstate:
The strongest storms will be capable of producing gusty straight-line winds and hail, but the overall severe weather setup isn’t impressive with this system — a decent amount of instability and wind energy, but those factors aren’t likely to come together perfectly to really enhance the severe potential.  The Storm Prediction Center’s short-range ensemble model (SREF) is a “superblend” of various forecast models, and it estimates a 20-30% chance of thunderstorms with severe characteristics north of I-40 this afternoon, with decreasing chances farther south:
The SPC’s official outlook calls for a “Marginal Risk” (level 1 of 5) of severe thunderstorms:
Overall, expect numerous thunderstorms to develop this afternoon, but only a few of those will strengthen enough to prompt severe thunderstorm warnings.  To sum everything up:

Lingering showers tonight will give way to decreasing clouds on Friday, with breezy conditions and highs only in the low to mid 60s:
Dry and pleasant this weekend — highs in the mid to upper 60s Saturday, in the low to mid 70s Sunday.  Overnight lows will feel a little chilly, but that’s normal for this time of year!



  • Wind damage, landslides, storm surge, and flooding rains: the Philippines are dealing with the aftermath of yet another major typhoon.
  • The US National Hurricane Center flies “hurricane hunter” aircraft into tropical systems in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific, but storms farther out the Pacific have primarily been studied with satellites.  Now Japan is going to start flying research aircraft into typhoons in the western Pacific Ocean.
  • A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the stirring effect that Hurricane Matthew had on the ocean — the violent waves and water movement allowing cooler water to “upwell” from below the surface.  You can actually see that effect in the path that Hurricane Nicole followed, using NASA’s ocean temperature measurements.
  • Most climate projections talk about “the next 50 years” or “the next century” in terms of potential effects.  But should we think about climate change and sea level rise in truer and longer time frames?
  • The European Space Agency’s attempt to land a probe on the surface of Mars didn’t work out as planned.
  • Elon Musk’s idea of a self-sustaining colony on Mars needs more work.
  • Uranus might have a couple of moons that astronomers haven’t even noticed so far.
  • Forecast on Pluto: 99% clear, with a 1% chance of clouds.
  • Meanwhile, in the outer solar system: very large trans-Neptunian object (that mean’s it WAY out there) “2007 OR10” has a moon!
  • Astronomers are getting a better look at one of the most-violent star systems in the galaxy.
  • This sounds both hard to believe and very frightening: China’s future submarine could travel the speed of sound.
  • 25 medical myths that just won’t go away.
  • Most communities do occasional “drug take-back” programs, but a lot of people are just dumping old prescription medications down the drain.  That’s causes some big problems.
  • Well, this is terrifying: how a ghost pepper led to a torn esophagus.

About paulheggen33

Morning meteorologist for WNCN-TV in Raleigh.
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