Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Update on Severe Storms, Heavy Rainfall for Southern Plains Later Today and Tonight

A strong storm system in the middle and upper-levels of the atmosphere is swirling about over the Southwest U.S. this morning (yellow circled area on the water vapor satellite image above).  It is forecast to lift out to the East during the day today, into Wednesday.

Southerly winds are developing over central and east Texas this morning, and will transport increasing moisture and instability into much of the state over the next 12-24 hours.  The combination of an increasingly unstable airmass along with the arrival of the upper-level energy will result in widespread thunderstorm development from West to East across Texas later today and into tonight.

Scattered showers and thunderstorms are likely to develop over central and eastern Texas during the day today as the moisture increases across the region.  Some of the stronger storms may produce marginally severe hail, but widespread and/or significant severe weather is not likely with this particular round of activity.

The main threat of severe weather will come later this evening and tonight.  The latest severe weather outlook from the SPC in Norman, OK is shown below (valid through tonight), with the severe weather threat area outlined in yellow:

Large hail and damaging wind gusts will be the primary severe weather threats.  A few tornadoes also cannot be ruled out, particularly within the brown shaded areas on the image below (which includes the Austin-San Antonio corridor):

Thunderstorms are forecast to develop in West Texas as the upper-level storm approaches later this afternoon and will increase in coverage and intensity into this evening.  By Midnight, a line of thunderstorms is likely to extend from northcentral into southwest Texas, to the immediate West of the I-35 corridor.  This line will progress Eastward overnight, likely reaching the coastal Plains by dawn on Wednesday.

Nighttime severe weather can be particularly dangerous.  Be sure that you have a way to receive severe weather warnings tonight.  A NOAA Weather Radio with a battery back-up is an excellent tool.  You can program newer models to alert you only when your area is being affected.  Another option would be a subscription to a smartphone based application, however it's important to keep in mind that this may not work if a cellphone tower is knocked out of service.

Please be sure to review severe weather safety tips now, and have a plan of action in place should severe weather strike later today or tonight.

Another hazard with this weather system will be widespread locally heavy rainfall.  Widespread rains of 2-4 inches can be expected tonight and early Wednesday across much of central and eastern Texas:

If you live in the above mentioned areas, remain alert today and listen for the latest forecast information as this situation develops.

I will post an update at midday and outline the latest trends.

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