It’s going to be a busy day, but there are a lot of caveats in place from Kansas to Texas. The environment today is extremely favorable for strong to violent tornadoes, but storm mode could make the threat more limited in space and time. Still, vigilance is required today as the environment is on the higher end of historical analogs for this time of year.

Locations:

  • Primary Risk Area: Portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, and southwestern Missouri.
  • Secondary Risk Area: Northern and Central Texas

Threats:

  • Intense Tornadoes: Especially from late afternoon into early evening.
  • Giant Hail: Very large hailstones are expected, particularly with initial supercell development.
  • Destructive Wind Gusts: Severe wind gusts are likely, potentially forming a significant MCS (Mesoscale Convective System) by tonight.

Timing:

  • Storm Initiation: Expected by mid-afternoon near the surface low and dryline, continuing into the evening.
  • Peak Threat: From late afternoon into early evening, with the greatest risk period extending into the night.

Meteorological Discussion:

  • Central and Southern Plains:
    • Setup: A synoptic-scale trough over the western CONUS will shift eastward, bringing several shortwaves and vorticity lobes to the Great Plains. A shortwave trough over the Lower Colorado River Valley and southern CA will eject east-northeastward, reaching southwestern KS and the TX Panhandle by 7 p.m.
    • Surface Analysis: This morning, a cold front extends from lower MI southwestward across southern IL and southeastern MO, becoming quasi-stationary over western AR, southeastern OK, and north-central/west-central TX. This boundary will move northward as a warm front across northwest TX and OK today, becoming diffuse by evening. A dryline will develop from west-central TX northward to western KS, with an elongated low-pressure area consolidating.
    • Storm Development: Thunderstorms are expected to develop by mid-afternoon near the surface low and dryline, from parts of western NE to KS, and perhaps over northwest TX and western OK. These storms will benefit from increasing moisture, instability, and shear, supporting significant severe hazards. Initial supercells will likely produce very large hail and tornadoes, with the threat for significant tornadoes increasing from mid-afternoon into early evening, particularly from southern KS southward.
    • Severe Potential: The strengthening low-level jet, enlarging hodographs, and rich moisture will create an environment highly favorable for long-lived, significant tornadoes, large hail, and severe downbursts. Forecast soundings indicate MLCAPE of 4000-5000 J/kg, dewpoints in the upper 60s to mid-70s F, effective-shear magnitudes of 50-70 KT, and effective SRH of 400-700 J/kg by early evening, particularly from north TX into central OK.
    • Caveats: Despite the favorable environment, several factors may influence storm development and severity, including the displacement of the strongest deep-layer forcing north of the richest moisture, potential interaction of dense afternoon convection in TX with storms farther north, and high cloud cover limiting diurnal heating between I-40 and southern KS. However, any supercells moving through the highly buoyant and strongly sheared environment from late afternoon onward will pose a substantial tornado threat.

Technical Discussion

Starting off this morning, dewpoints in the 70s are locked down into Texas. To the north a significantly less moist airmass is in place. This moisture south will lift northwards, but how far it will make it is an open question.
Morning analysis at DFW shows a strong cap in place, with convective temperatures in the low 90s. However, shortwave energy along with sustained heating and continued moistening will make the cap relatively a non-factor to the south in Texas.
Models are rhyming about a storm mode that results in just a couple/few robust supercells. Some south of the Red River and perhaps one or two north into Kansas. In the middle, storms will possibly struggle to form and maintain as left splits and vigorous outflow will make supercell sustenance hard to come by. The HRRR this morning is particularly robust with left splits/intense northerly outflow pushes.
From roughly I-40 and south, the environment is a near perfect big tornado environment. There is a ton of effective SRH (400+), MLCAPE is over 4000 j/kg, and the CINH is in the very manageable -50 or less range. The only thing I’m somewhat concerned about is the lack of 3CAPE into the evening in terms of a supercell producing robust tornadoes. Still, that may not be an issue with wind shear as strong as it looks. Overall today is a day where a robust supercell will be capable of producing strong to violent tornadoes, especially I-40 and south. The only question today is how many of those supercells will exist, but tornadoes seem guaranteed with any that do.