I can honestly say that forecasting a series of setups like this week’s always comes with a lot of hand-wringing at the start. This is because what happens on Monday will affect Tuesday. And what happens Tuesday will affect Wednesday. And amidst all of that, there is just enough there for supercells capable of producing a couple of tornadoes and huge hail — but only if things line up correctly.
In short, no one knows what is about to happen, or at least no one can know what they’re doing and feel confident about this one.
Storms will form in very low dewpoint air across New Mexico this afternoon amidst fairly steep lapse rates aloft — so despite the dry air near the surface, there should be just enough instability for a few thunderstorms. These cells will move east towards slightly richer moisture in the Texas Panhandle by evening. I still think there is a chance a couple of these will approach severe criteria for winds towards sunset.
Lower to mid 40s dewpoints will be in place across the Panhandles this afternoon and evening.
Overnight tonight into tomorrow morning, more storms will form over Oklahoma which may delay a warm frontal surge northwards somewhat.
I think the biggest question I have right now about Tuesday is how far north the good moisture is going to get. It is pretty obvious that moisture is not returning as quickly as models once thought a few days ago, which makes sense given a large MCS that drove into the Gulf yesterday. In a lot of ways, this is somewhat expected.
Still, there should be enough moisture and lift around to generate storms, with enough ingredients for severe weather.
The old 3km NAM has been handling moisture fields better than just about any model the last few setups, so leaning into it for Tuesday reveals a belt of lower 60s dewpoints making it as far north as the Red River tomorrow. The NAM does have a tendency to keep the dryline a bit west of where it actually ends up, but I suspect there will be just enough moisture around tomorrow for robust supercells from the SE Panhandle down into Central Texas.
The wind shear doesn’t look too high end for this setup, but there is just enough curvature and bulk shear here for supercells across the Eastern TX Panhandle into central Texas. The low-level winds actually aren’t too robust, with 850mb winds coming in consistently below 30kt. This is a signal that the tornado threat will be low to very low tomorrow.
A sample sounding also shows some capping that is showing up on some models around 700mb. This would further lower the tornado risk as updrafts struggle a bit with tilting/stretching. Regardless, the wind shear is only very marginal for tornadoes. I do think there is potential for a really great storm structure chase on Tuesday. But it’d be further north and west where tornadoes are pretty unlikely.
Now what comes of Wednesday depends entirely on how things evolve Tuesday and overnight into Wednesday morning. Right now there is some disagreement, but I am leaning into the solutions that produce extensive overnight convection that lasts throughout the day on Wednesday.
The extensive convection will surge cooler air southwards and reinforce that as an effective cold front throughout the day. If this scenario comes to pass, I suspect a line of storms will take shape over north Texas in the afternoon with damaging winds, hail, and a very low tornado risk.
I’m typically not a fan of more SW’ly 850s, and Wednesday does feature them leaning into the range I’m not a fan of for storm chasing. There isn’t much evidence of these backing in time into the evening like on Wednesday either. The most favorable soundings I can find on Wednesday are similar to Tuesday but with a bit more mositure. Overall, I’m classifying the tornado threat as low to very low again on Wednesday, though that could change with a well placed and oriented outflow boundary.
After a cold front crashes south through Thursday, another small system will move through on Friday which will probably draw enough moisture up for a low-end severe risk along a much more powerful cold front. This won’t be a major deal for storm chasing, and will result in the weekend being tame once again.
As I discussed in my video yesterday on our Youtube, our next major shots of severe weather will come sometime in May. There will possibly be some Southern High Plains action in the first week of May to check out.
This week is a week that, when I lived in Oklahoma City and could legit chase any setup I wanted, I’d largely skip except maybe on Tuesday where I’d shoot for high-based structure.
From a storm chasing standpoint, I think Wednesday is the day with the biggest potential, but that largely depends on storm processes and getting a well-placed and stalled outflow boundary south of what will certainly be an effective cold front. I’m not sure that’s a reasonable position to hope for right now. There is also some evidence that we might be dealing with thicker clouds throughout the day on Wednesday which could make surface heating a chore. My gut says Monday evening and Tuesday could be somewhat photogenic — but with almost no tornado chance either day.
Overall, the severe weather threats any individual day don’t look much more than low right now, but we’ll certainly be keeping an eye on it.