For the sake of brevity, I’ll keep this short, sweet, and to the point. We’ve an active severe weather period across the Great Plains that, at this time, includes the threat for severe weather from today (Wednesday) through at least Sunday. This has been well forecast several days in advance by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) and local National Weather Service (NWS) offices. Tuesday, 5 May 2015 was quite an active severe weather day with tornadoes in New Mexico and Texas along with scattered wind damage reports as far northeast as the Tulsa metro.
TUESDAY: 5 MAY 2015
Today’s severe weather scenario is a very complex and challenging one for forecasters. A Tornado Watch will be issued in short order for parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. The bottom line is simply this: if and when storms do form, they will likely be severe. Not all areas in the Slight or Enhanced Risk areas will see severe weather. Here’s a look at the overall Storm Prediction Center severe weather outlook.
STORM PREDICTION CENTER CATEGORICAL OUTLOOK FOR WEDNESDAY, 6 MAY 2015 (11:30 AM CDT)
Two separate Enhanced Risk areas have been included within the Slight Risk area for parts of northwest Texas into southwestern Oklahoma and much of central Kansas into south-central Nebraska. These are the areas where the Storm Prediction Center feels the most significant severe weather events will take place. The gap between them over northwestern Oklahoma has some uncertainty at this time…but that could change with the mid afternoon or evening outlooks. Now, let’s take a look at today’s tornado threat.
SPC DAY ONE TORNADO OUTLOOK 6 MAY 2015 (11:30 AM CDT)
As was the case with Tuesday, much of the Slight Risk area is covered with a 2% and 5% tornado threat. A 10% area has been incuded for much of central KS into south-central NE. In addition, a “hatched” area (outlined in black and filled with black dashes) covers the 10% area as well. This is to cover the probability of a few tornadoes (hopefully very few) that are of EF-2 to EF-5 intensity within twenty-five miles of a given point within the hatched area. There’s no reason to panic or fall victim to fear mongers, but folks living anywhere in the tornado threat area, especially for parts of Kansas and Nebraska, need to pay extra close attention to watch and warming information and plan accordingly.
SPC DAY ONE WIND OUTLOOK 6 MAY 2015 (11:30 AM CDT)
Let’s take a quick look at the severe weather wind threat. As expected, the highest probabilities for strong, damaging straight-line winds are over parts of Kansas and Nebraska. The threat extends well into much of Oklahoma and central Texas. This coves the possibilities of damaging winds of 60 mph or higher with any storms. Straight line winds, especially those associated with downbursts or microbursts can be intense enough that people will report a tornado in progress. The challenge with damaging straight line winds is the possibility that, especially over densely populated areas, thousands of people can lose electrical power, etc. over a wide swath in addition to damage to roofs, siding, fences, and even vehicles hit by flying debris. It’s safe to say that any storm that is considered severe today and tonight by your local NWS office carries this threat.
DAY ONE HAIL OUTLOOK 6 MAY 2015 (11:30 AM CDT)
Today’s hail outlook from SPC covers a larger area than the two previous threats. All of the Enhanced Risk areas and much of the Slight Risk is covered by a hatched area with a threat of hail of two inches in diameter and larger within twenty-five miles of any given point. Within the 30% areas, the chances are close to one in three that this will occur. While much of the focus today will be on the tornado threat in Kansas and Nebraska, keep in mind that hail events cover a very wide area and it’s important to keep this in mind if you are in a warned area. Today will be an active severe weather day across the southern and central Great Plains with numerous severe storms expected. Keep in touch with your local NWS office and the SPC and the media outlets of your choice for the latest updates as this setup will evolve throughout the day. Of course, never forget your NOAA weather radio. I’d be remiss to not mention the threat for flash flooding. This will be possible with any storms, even some that are non-severe.
In summary, tornado watches are forthcoming from the SPC for parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas this afternoon and evening. Stay very weather aware with at least three reliable sources of watch and warning information close at hand and plan your day accordingly. There’s no need for panic or unnecessary worrying (that’s all to often fostered by fear mongers on social media…hence the importance of you getting your watch and warning information from official sources), but do keep abreast of the situation since it will unfold hour by hour and changes are inevitable, especially once storms commence. Tomorrow morning, we’ll take a look at the rest of the week…but now, let’s get today out of the way. Stay safe and weather aware!