Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day update on Super Tuesday thunderstorms

In yesterday's blog about the weather this week, we discussed the probability of severe storms on Tuesday, indicating that the likelihood of severe weather was rather low. While this update isn't a complete "180," today's forecast data caused me to pause for a closer look. First let me say that another Super Tuesday severe weather outbreak (i.e., 2008) is NOT expected. However, a few severe storms cannot be ruled out.

Here are the two graphics worth sharing today. First our impact graphic produced at mid-day that contains the high-level overview:

...and next a reminder of what the various risk levels mean. For now, we're in a category 2 of 5 (Slight Risk) for Tuesday, meaning some storms could become severe, but not a lot.

Description of the outlook categories used by SPC. Click for larger image.
The details are that a strong upper level system and associated cold front will be moving through the region. These systems will tap into increasing levels of moisture and modest instability. There will also be a good deal of wind energy with this system, at the surface and especially aloft. These factors will combine to produce a large area of rain and thunderstorms, starting early Tuesday as noted above, and moving east of the metro by mid-afternoon. A few morning storms could become severe with damaging wind the primary threat. The wind energy will be borderline for producing tornadoes, so we'll have to keep a close eye out. In addition, any storms will be capable of brief heavy downpours and the wind will be blowing strong until after the front has passed in the mid-afternoon.

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, which means many of you will be voting (we highly recommend it, but please go through the line once, even if you really like your candidate...).

While there may be some showers around during the pre-work voting hours, the best chance of strong storms will be after rush hour through the lunch hour. By the afternoon rush hour, it'll be over. If you have a choice when to vote, we recommend getting off work a little early and doing it in the late afternoon/early evening. Then expect a wait, because most everyone else will wait too.

Regarding preparation, we suggest that as well. We'll even help you with it. Tonight at 8:30pm, live via the magic of video chat, we'll convene a panel of guests to talk about severe weather preparation, and maybe a controversial topic or two, because it's Severe Weather Awareness Week. We may even have a giveaway of some sort, because we appreciate all of you. You can participate by watching on YouTube (desktop or mobile) or on our Hangout webpage and asking your questions on Twitter using the #wxchat tag or in the chat we have set up for you on the Hangout page linked. I hope you'll join us!

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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