Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Small chance of a strong storm on Thursday

Many Mid-Southerners received an early wake-up call this morning thanks to thunderstorms, sparked by a passing upper level disturbance rolling through the region. Not only did some areas receive some significant rainfall, but a few places saw some pea-sized hail as well! With a cold front moving towards the Mid-South in the next 24 hours, another risk for rain or thunder may arrive with it.

The threat for any rain Thursday will first be preceded by a simply unseasonably warm afternoon. With mostly sunny skies and gusty south winds to 30 mph, high temperatures will skyrocket to the middle 70s, only a few degrees shy of a record 78 from 1982 (for Memphis).

Most computer models are placing the expected cold front near the Mississippi River during the early evening hours. However, moisture levels over the area will be limited as the front sweeps across, and this will prevent widespread rain and thunderstorms from developing. In fact, confidence is low that the metro area will even see any rainfall from this system. However, a small chance (about 20 to 30%) of a shower or thunderstorm will still exist from late Thursday afternoon into the evening.

NWS surface weather forecast map for early Thursday evening
Additionally, though the overall risk of rainfall is expected to be low, should a thunderstorm develop and pass through the metro area, there is a slight risk that the thunderstorm could intensify to strong or severe levels. A significant or widespread severe weather threat is NOT expected, but any storm could be capable of producing hail and/or gusty winds, with the most likely time for that activity in a narrow window between about 4 and 9 PM. The Storm Prediction Center currently has areas along and east of the Mississippi River in a Slight Risk for severe thunderstorms due to this threat (see graphic below).

Storm Prediction Center severe weather outlook for Thursday
The greater risk for thunderstorms, including severe weather, will likely develop east and south of the metro later Thursday night.  Meanwhile, once the front passes through, cooler temperatures will be arriving, and a breezy Friday – now with northwest winds! – is expected. Highs will be more seasonal, in the middle 50s and a full 20 degrees lower than Thursday’s levels.

MemphisWeather.Net will bring you updates during the day Thursday as the possibility of storms and the possible severity becomes more clear cut. Of course, you can also let us PUSH the information to you by downloading the app with StormWatch+, now available for both Android and iPhone/iPad smartphones and tablets.  StormWatch+ will alert you (based on your chosen location) if you are under a Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Watch or Warning.  Learn more about StormWatch+ here.

--Kevin Terry, MemphisWeather.Net

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