Stormy Tuesday

It appears that Tuesday will be a very active weather day, especially across the southern Plains.

Locally, the summer-like conditions of heat and humidity and a weak trigger in the upper atmosphere will probably set of some scattered thunderstorm activity, some of which could be strong to severe.

The storm Prediction Center has tagged the Mid Atlantic region as having a slight risk for severe storms with about a 40% chance for scattered storm development.

The early morning visible satellite image above shows cloudiness along a boundary (front) to the northwest of the Mid Atlantic area and a decaying convective complex in eastern Kentucky. The air mass south of the front is warm and humid and primed for storm development if the right atmospheric triggers develop.

The biggest weather problems today will be in the southern Plains, specifically Oklahoma and Kansas where there is a high risk (70%) of severe storms.

The predawn National Weather Service surface map shows a low pressure center over the Texas panhandle with a cold front dropping south into west Texas. Ahead of that cold front is an orange line with semicircles on it. This is referred to a a “dryline” and is a boundary between dry air to the west and and very moist air to the east. Later in the day this “dryline” should provide a strong lifting mechanism to push the moist air into the upper atmosphere, resulting in severe thunderstorms.

The early morning visible satellite image shows the low clouds in the moist air ahead of the “dryline”.

Another indicator of a potential severe weather outbreak is the upper atmosphere winds.

The high altitude wind flow is outlined in the forecast map above for later this afternoon. The blue shaded areas indicate winds in the 70-10 knot range pushing into Texas and Oklahoma, the area where the “dryline” will be forcing moist air upward.

Yet another forecast map for late afternoon shows upper wind flow (wind barbs) and areas of maximum spin and upward motion (yellow) in the atmosphere. This lift and upward motion is referred to as vorticity. The vorticity maximum moving into the southern Plains adds an extra kick to all of the other things going on.

All of the factors above are forecast to converge on north Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas this afternoon and evening and it is quite possible that another serious outbreak of severe storms and tornados will occur.

Check out wbaltv.com for the latest developments locally and in the southern Plains. Tom Tasselmyer will keep you up to date this afternoon and evening on WBAL-TV 11.

John Collins

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