Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Today's Threat of Severe Weather In Plains Greater Than Yesterday

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has
 a broad area under risk of severe storms today
with a particularly concentrated risk
over parts of Oklahoma.  
Yesterday was the unofficial start of severe weather season in the United States.

Belated, because as I've noted, the month of March had until now had virtually no severe storms, which is very unusual.

You can tell there was a pent up "demand," if you will, for severe storms, as it seems there were zillions of storm chasers driving willy nilly around Missouri looking for the most photogenic storms.

I hate to use the word "demand." That's why I put it in quotation marks. I'm sure the people who suffered property damage to roofs and cars from hail that was bigger than golf balls in some towns weren't exactly "demanding" a hail storm.

But, to put it crassly, there's also a market for severe storms and the storm chasers were taking advantage of it. I'd much prefer there be no destructive storms and no property damage ever, but it's going to happen.

So the storm chasers go out and capture the drama, for better or worse.

The NOAA Storm Prediction Center said there were no reports of tornadoes or significant wind damage from the storms in Missouri yesterday. Some storms got to rotating, and there was a tornado warning or two, but there have been no reports of any twisters touching down.

However, on Tuesday there were no fewer than 70 reports of big hail, mostly in Missouri in Arkansas.

The storm chasers will be out in force today, because the risk of severe weather is greater and more widespread than it was on Tuesday.

The main threat once again will be hail and strong winds, with a much lesser chance of tornadoes. That said, there is a somewhat greater chance of tornadoes than yesterday.

This is especially tree in northeastern Oklahoma, northwestern Arkansas and extreme southwestern Missouri, where supercell thunderstorms, separate from a main batch or line of severe storms, could produce a couple of tornadoes.

In that region, there's a 5 percent chance of a tornado within 25 miles of any given point in the area I outlined. For that neck of the woods, the 5 percent chance isn't all that high, so we're definitely not talking about a major, widespread tornado outbreak here.

Then again, it only takes one nasty tornado to trash a town, so let's hope that if any tornadoes do form, they stay out in open country away from where anybody lives.

The risk of severe weather is upgraded by the NOAA's Storm Prediction Center to Moderate in parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri. That's the second highest level of risk the storm center puts out when it assess the chances of severe weather on a daily basis.

Hail is a particular concern. I noticed the Weather Channel's Jim Cantore is advising people to try and avoid Interstate 44 in northeastern Oklahoma after 2 p.m. today because that area seems to be under the greatest threat from hail.

Overall, there's a chance today and tonight of damaging thunderstorms from northern Texas, most of Oklahoma, the northwestern half of Arkansas, southern Missouri, extreme southern Illinois and Indiana and extreme northwestern Kentucky.

Things should settle down tomorrow as the storm system causing this heads to the Northeast.

I'm still watching for the possibility of some local flooding in parts of New England Thursday afternoon and night as rain from the storm moves in and starts to break up river ice, leading to the possibility of ice jams.

There could be a fairly strong thunderstorm or two in the southeastern United States Thursday and in Florida Friday, but nobody is expecting anything widespread.

The chances of severe weather anywhere in the United States look pretty low into the middle of next week as well.

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