For the mid-day Day 1 Severe Weather Outlook from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC), a Moderate Risk was introduced for parts of Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. The possibility of this happening had been mentioned in previous outlooks. Considering some of the atmospheric ingredients coming into place, I’m not at all surprised. This post will focus on the mid-afternoon update issued by the SPC at 3:00 PM CDT (2000 UTC). More severe weather outlook updates will be issued by the SPC today. The next one will be at approximately 8:00 PM CDT (0100 UTC) and 1:00 AM CDT (0600 UTC). Keep in mind that severe weather setups are in a constant state of flux…and rarely do situations stay static from one hour to the next. This is where keeping in touch with your local National Weather Service office and the broadcast meteorologists of your choice are beneficial along with NOAA weather radio and, if available to you, a quality smart phone warning app. This post will be quite brief since things are rapidly falling into place for a busy severe weather day.
Let’s take a look at the mid-afternoon SPC severe weather update.
PUBLIC SEVERE WEATHER OUTLOOK ISSUED AT 12:01 PM CDT
The SPC has issued a special Public Severe Weather Outlook that concisely explains today’s severe weather potential. This essentially has all the information you need to know. The next best step is making sure your emergency kit is in order and keep tabs on any warnings that are issued. Here’s a look at the mid-afternoon severe weather update from SPC.
WEDNESDAY MID-AFTERNOON SEVERE WEATHER OUTLOOK
Very little has changed from the earlier forecasts other than an increase in the likelihood of damaging straight-line winds and very large hail…possible up to three inches in diameter. As I’ve stated in previous posts, this is a very complex forecast scenario, is no “slam-dunk” forecast, and variables have come into play that may have a significant change in storm mode and hazards. Not everyone in the categorical outlook areas will see severe weather, but if you live anywhere in the Marginal, Slight, Enhanced, and Moderate Risk, be sure to keep in touch with official sources of watch and warning information. When and where will the storms form? From the mid-afternoon discussion, “ROUGHLY NEAR THE KANSAS/OKLAHOMA BORDER AREA EASTWARD THROUGH THE MIDDLE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY…IS STILL EXPECTED TO BECOME THE FOCUS FOR THE PRIMARY STORM DEVELOPMENT THROUGH THE REMAINDER OF THE PERIOD. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THE MOST SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN COVERAGE/INTENSITY ALONG THE PLAINS PORTIONS OF THIS BOUNDARY MAY NOT OCCUR UNTIL THE 00-02Z (7:00 PM – 9:00 PM CDT) TIME FRAME.” In other words, some of the strongest storms may not get going until close to sunset…or even after dark. At night, it can be particularly difficult to see storms…so pay particular attention to any warning that is issued. Make sure you have a source of reliable official warnings handy through your evening and plan accordingly. While you’re at it, do yourself a favor and avoid the fear mongers. For those of you with anxiety and/or phobias regarding storms, deal with PTSD due to a previous encounter with a storm-related event, or are simply experiencing a great deal of worry, they’ll do you no good. Overall, they offer very little information that hasn’t already been disseminated by OFFICIAL watch and warning sources, and their actions (especially in social media) are usually self-serving.
In a scenario such as this, tornadoes are always front and center in everyone’s concern. Here’s a look at the mid-afternoon SPC tornado outlook map.
WEDNESDAY MID-AFTERNOON TORNADO OUTLOOK
The current thinking is the highest probability for a tornado is in the red shaded area. The highest probability for a significant (EF2 – EF5) tornado is in the black “hatched” area. Contrary to popular opinion, not everyone in the tornado outlook area will see a tornado…or even be in a tornado warning. Tornadoes can also occur in the 5% or 2% area, but that’s less likely. Just because someone lives right outside of the 10% or 5% area doesn’t mean they should let their guard down and take a cavalier attitude. On the flip side, the purpose of this map and all others isn’t to scare you, but keep you informed as to what kind of severe weather you may experience so if it occurs, you can take the necessary precautions.
Before we wind this up…here’s a look at the SPC damaging wind and hail outlooks.
WEDNESDAY MID-AFTERNOON HAIL OUTLOOK
The chances for large hail are especially significant in the red shaded area and the hatched area for parts of Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and a small part of west-central Illinois. Once again, not everyone will see large hail, but the possibility is there. You might consider making sure your vehicles or anything that could be damaged by large hail is under cover. Now a quick look at the SPC damaging wind outlook.
WEDNESDAY MID-AFTERNOON WIND OUTLOOK
The 30% damaging wind outlook area closely corresponds with the tornado outlook. North-central Oklahoma to west-central Missouri are the areas currently most vulnerable. Perhaps most important is the fact that any storms that form and become severe in any of the outlook areas have the potential for damaging straight-line winds, large hail, and tornadoes. Another very important and often overlooked risk is for flash flooding. The severe thunderstorms that form today can put down copious amounts of rain that can turn a low lying road or small creek into a roaring river that can sweep away even the largest of vehicles. Remember the safety phrase, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.” It could save your life. Lightning will also be a hazard with any thunderstorm…severe our otherwise…so mind the lightning danger.
Now that you’ve gotten the scoop on what’s ahead especially in the Enhanced and Moderate Risk areas, time to put your game face on and keep on top of all watches and warnings. If you have a solid plan of action to take if you need to seek shelter and a reliable, hype-free source of watch and warning information, you will be safe. Yes, much of the information from official sources will sound stern at times, but it’s their job. You are being looked after by some of the best atmospheric scientists in the field…and trust me, some of these folks are top-notch experts with an inimitable dedication to their profession, willingly carrying the heavy responsibility that rests on their shoulders all while keeping your safety in mind.
For your convenience, here are some excellent sources of weather and weather safety information:
- Storm Prediction Center
- National Weather Service
- Tornado Safety
- Flood Safety
- Lightning Safety
- NOAA Weather Radio
- American Red Cross
Finally, if you have a smart phone, you can put it to good use by downloading the mPING app and reporting to the National Severe Storms Laboratory any severe weather you experience. This is a great way for you to take your mind off the unpleasant side of severe weather while contributing information to research meteorologists. Every report counts…including yours…but please don’t put yourself in danger just to get that report.
Remember, stay informed, stay safe, stay calm.
Since things are getting very busy for me, this will likely be the last post for the Tornado Quest blog. For the rest of the duration of this event, I can most easily be followed or reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TornadoQuest.