A very dynamic weather pattern across the Central US will support a major severe weather outbreak this afternoon and evening. Destructive tornadoes are especially a concern in Western Kansas and Oklahoma where the NWS Storm Prediction Center has outlooked a High Risk for severe thunderstorms.
What Is the Fuel for this Outbreak?
A low-pressure system in northeastern New Mexico, a warm/stationary front that extends from western Oklahoma into southern Kansas as well as the dryline in western Oklahoma and Texas will be the surface focus for the development of severe thunderstorms this afternoon.
In addition, some key parameters in the middle layers of the atmosphere are coming together that will fuel explosive thunderstorm development. These storms will have the potential to produce very large hail and tornadoes.
One of the elements that we evaluate for supercell development and the risk of tornadoes is the strength and change in wind direction from the surface to several thousand feet into the atmosphere or “directional and speed wind shear.” For this afternoon in the Texas and Oklahoma, winds will be from the southeast to south at the surface and will shift to the southwest and west as you vertically go up in the atmosphere. In addition, the winds will increase in speed as you go up in height. So this shear will support rotating supercell thunderstorms which increase the threat for a weather severe outbreak.
Where is the Greatest Threat for Tornadoes?
NWS Storm Prediction Center has outlined a HIGH RISK for south-central Kansas and into Western Oklahoma, with a broader area of Moderate and Enhanced Risk.
The high risk is surrounded by a moderate risk area. Some cities that have the higher risk for severe weather today include Medicine Lodge, KS, Hutchinson, KS, Dodge City, KS, Derby, KS Wichita KS, Enid, OK, and Alva, OK.
The graphic below outlines the areas for tornado risk.
In addition to the tornado threat, we also have a threat for very large hail and straight-line damaging winds. The graphic below shows the areas of concern for hail.
Severe Threat Continues on Friday
The low is a slow moving system, so the severe threat continues into Friday for the southern plains and into the middle Mississippi River Valley. However, at this time the severe potential for Friday is less widespread than today.
How common are High Risk Outlooks?
SPC sparingly issues a High Risk, which highlights the potential significance of this event and the high level of concern. With that said, ironically this is the third high risk issuance this year. Patrick Marsh, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist with NWS Storm Prediction Center recently shared in an interview with the Washington Post what is considered when SPC issues a High Risk.
Actions You Can Take To Prepare
For those with the risk of severe weather, especially in the HIGH to MODERATE Risk areas, remain in tune with the weather this afternoon and evening. These storms will develop quickly. Decide NOW where you can take cover in the event that a warning is issued for your location. That may include changing your plans for this afternoon/evening and asking a friend/neighbor/relative if you can stay with them if you do not have a sturdy place to take shelter in your own home. Remember mobile homes are not a safe place during severe weather. Have multiple ways receive notifications, such as a NOAA Weather Radio, your local TV and Radio stations.
Also consider moving equipment, vehicles and other outdoor items inside so they do not take flight or are damaged by large hail.
Farmers…make sure shed and barn doors are latched and you have tied loose items down if you are not able to bring them indoors. Livestock owners, if you can bring your livestock to protected areas, do so. Otherwise, know the location of your livestock in case you need to quickly check on them after storms go through.
For ideas of what to include in a disaster preparedness kit, we recently did a blog post sharing some suggestions www.wxintegrations.com/do-you-have-a-disaster-ready-kit/
The team at WxIntegrations will continue to provide relevant information and resources to help you better understand and prepare by incorporating weather impacts into your planning and response.
Our GrowCasterTM tool is the essential weather decision tool for farmers and ranchers that is tailored to their specific farming and ranching operations. With GrowCasterTM, farmers and ranchers can leverage the weather forecast opportunities and risks to improve their bottom line. Register for our FREE TRIAL today.