Update: Severe Weather Still On-Track for the Plains

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In Tuesday’s YourWeatherBlog, I wrote that a significant severe weather threat is beginning to take shape for the southern and central Plains this coming weekend and early next week. With this update, I’m confirming that the severe weather is still on track and still on target.

The I-35 Corridor is where the severe weather is expected initially. The area will then move eastward. The area indicated in red is valid April 13-15. Image: ImpactWeather StormWatch

Every weather event comes more into focus as the time to the actual event draws closer. Tuesday was a first-look/heads-up sort of notice but there were still many uncertainties. So far away from the expected arrival of the severe weather, questions such as timing, location and severity were very much at the top of our concerns. 48 hours have now passed and though those same questions of timing, location and severity remain, the event as a whole is becoming more focused. Of note, there aren’t many differences between what we see today, and what we saw on Tuesday.

As the system moves east, widespread heavy rainfall will result in 2-3 inches of rain across eastern Texas and Arkansas by next Wednesday. Multi-day totals of training storms will likely exceed that amount significantly.

We continue to identify this as a significant outbreak of severe weather across the Plains for the “late weekend / early next week” time frame. However, increased focus suggests the event may now be a Saturday evening event, as well as on Sunday and Monday as the line of severe weather moves eastward. We’re also identifying the I-35 corridor from Oklahoma City to Tulsa to Wichita to Kansas City as particularly at risk, perhaps as early as Saturday afternoon. We’re also indicating the possibility of long-track tornadoes.

Why does the severe weather wait until the Plains to develop? This type of weather will feed upon the warm, unstable air that’s been trucked up the I-35 corridor since yesterday. This wind flow, at times quite breezy, is already evident in the form of showers across eastern and central Texas this morning, as well as farther north into Nebraska and even South Dakota.  Additionally, as the next cool air mass rushes over the Rocky Mountains and descends into the Plains, it drys and warms adiabatically adding to the instability of the region. For this part of the United States, this severe weather scenario is not unique. In fact, it’s been named Tornado Alley for this very reason.

North Texas was on the receiving end of severe weather yesterday afternoon. Reports of two to four feet of hail, plus heavy and fast rainfall turned normally cry creek beds and runoffs into raging torrents. Click image for YouTube video. Video: KVII ProNews7

Heat, humidity, a strong southerly flow in the lower atmosphere, and a soon-to-be strong southwesterly flow in the upper atmosphere are early indicators of the significant severe weather to come. This is definitely time to stay aware of the severe weather watches and warnings in your area that are sure to be posted as we head into the weekend and early next week.

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