We’re racing off to a hot start on the Southern Plains for severe weather season with yet another threat of severe storms and tornadoes today. There will be notable rounds/modes of storms: more isolated supercells with very large hail potential this afternoon and then a growing line complex into the night.
Storms will form pretty early today. Let’s jump in so they don’t beat me to publish time.
A Moisture Rich Atmosphere
Low to mid 60s dewpoints will contribute to moderate instability across the region this afternoon. The most robust destabilization will likely commence just ahead of the dryline/pacific front west of DFW this afternoon. As a large storm system approaches from the west, lift will markedly increase with storms becoming more and more likely into the afternoon hours.
- Additionally, a strong jet streak at 500mb (over 100kt) will approach from the west.
- There is already strong lift in the atmosphere late this morning. That is only going to increase through the day.
- Some warmer temps in the lower levels of the atmosphere will move over the threat area this afternoon and tonight, which will only somewhat limit the severe threat.
Today will be much more classic early Spring than Sunday was. There is low to moderate instability with adequate wind shear for supercells. Initially the low-level hodographs aren’t terribly large, but the overall length of the hodograph with the lack of low-level turning tends to point to very large hail as a big threat with the initial supercells this afternoon.
- The atmosphere will be ready for severe weather, most especially large hail, during the afternoon hours.
- Hail sizes are going to be huge on a storm or two, tennis-ball+ hail is likely.
- Tornado threat is not zero at any point today, but it rises through the afternoon and maximizes just after dark.
- There will be tornado warnings today and likely at least a tornado or two (but probably several). This is a day to stay weather aware.
Isolated to scattered supercells will be ongoing by mid-afternoon across Southern Oklahoma and North Texas.These will be occuring in a somewhat mixed storm mode environment, which may be another limiter of the tornado threat this afternoon. Supercells like to play alone to produce tornadoes.
Like I said earlier, the low level hodographs will be somewhat small in the afternoon, with 0-1km SRH only in the 125-160 m2/s2 range. With 0-3km cape over 100 j/kg, this is still a marginally supportive environment for tornadoes. Any storms that can root and turn slightly right this afternoon certainly could produce a tornado. What I think is more clear though is that any isolated storms are probably going to produce very large (tennis ball+) size hail across North Texas and Southern Oklahoma.
The evolution of storms today will gradually be towards more crowded storm modes as upper lift continues to increase and the pacific front surges east. This will mean a line with some QLCS characteristics is likely this evening. As with any QLCS system, you have to be mindful of the threat for tornadoes along it.
Something I’m watching as the day goes on is warmer air being advected (moved in) at 2-3km up in the atmosphere. This could be a blessing in that it minimizes the low level instability profile somewhat. Wind shear does increase in the lowest 1km by quite a bit though, up over 200-250 m2/m2 0-1km SRH. I don’t think the wind shear is enough to overcome any significant inversions this time around (Sunday was truly unique in that way) — but I do think the likelihood of several tornadoes warnings and quick spin-up tornadoes along the line is pretty inevitable as well.
The Bottom Line
Isolated storms will form in the next couple of hours and we’ll then have severe storms across the region through the rest of the day. Tornadoes are less likely in the afternoon but there is enough for a couple even still, especially in dominant storms. As the day wars on and storms grow upscale with increasing low-level wind shear, the tornado threat should ramp up and maximize just after dark along a line.
It’s another day to be weather aware, keep a source of weather warnings close by until the line passes you tonight.