Severe Weather Possible Today

A complicated forecast is in store for today, with the potential for some strong to severe thunderstorms this afternoon. Let’s discuss.


An negatively-tilted upper level trough is positioned over the central plains. This is overspreading divergence aloft, allowing for sufficient lift to produce isolated to scattered thunderstorms this morning. This activity will continue to move to the north throughout the day.

NOAA 500mb Analysis
NOAA 500mb Analysis

A strong area of low pressure has developed across central Kansas this morning. A cold front extends to the southwest of the low with a warm front draped to the south through Arkansas and to the Mississippi/Tennessee border. South of the warm front sits warm, moist air characterized by dew point temperatures in the mid to upper 60s.

7 AM Surface Analysis - COD Meteorology
7 AM Surface Analysis – COD Meteorology

Widespread showers and thunderstorms exist across portions of Missouri, extending southward into western Arkansas. This area of convection is forecast to move to the north and east with time.

7 AM Surface Analysis - COD Meteorology
SPC Radar Mesoanalysis – 7:15 AM

The aforementioned warm front should continue to lift north throughout the day as the low pressure system moves northeast. Thunderstorms should increase along the front throughout the day. This will advect warm, moist air into the region by Noon.

HRRR Model Forecast Dew Point and Surface Pressure - Valid Noon - Pivotalweather.com
HRRR Model Forecast Dew Point and Surface Pressure – Valid Noon – Pivotalweather.com

Strong southwest flow aloft will combine with a strong southerly low level jet to induce significant shear parameters across the region. This will allow for the development of rotating, organized storms this afternoon.

HRRR Forecast Wind Crossovers - Valid Noon - Pivotalweather.com
HRRR Forecast Wind Crossovers – Valid Noon – Pivotalweather.com

The remaining question is the instability. With morning thunderstorms and the expansive area of precipitation to the west, it will be hard for instability numbers to grow this afternoon. Still, upwards of 500 J/kg CAPE values are forecast. Given the amount of wind shear in the atmosphere, this should be sufficient for the development of severe thunderstorms.

NAM Forecast Instability - Valid 6 PM - Pivotalweather.com
NAM Forecast Instability – Valid 6 PM – Pivotalweather.com

Current forecast is for a line of supercells to cross the Mississippi River into western Kentucky by 2 to 4 PM this afternoon. These storms will be capable of tornadoes (potentially strong), as well as damaging wind, and large hail.

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HRRR Simulated Radar – Valid 2 PM – Pivotalweather.com

The Storm Prediction Center has outlined the region in an “Enhanced” risk of severe weather. Think of this as a level 3 out of 5 risk. This lines up well with my thinking after analyzing the data this morning.

NWS SPC Severe Weather Outlook
NWS SPC Severe Weather Outlook

Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook for more frequent updates. Thanks, and have a safe day folks!

-Meteorologist Jacob Wilkins

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