So what I am doing up at 3am when there is no active weather going on in my primary coverage area? Because you're looking at a rarity on the image above: a "High Risk" of severe weather being issued for the Day 2 forecast period (valid Saturday, April 14, 2012) by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC).
As far as I can tell, this has happened only one other time in the 50+ year history of the unit (including before it was called the SPC). The last time was the day before the tornado outbreak of April 7th, 2006 (and that was done on the updated outlook issued some 12 hours later than this one - so this one is a first for the version 1 issuance of a Day 2 outlook). We can have the debate as to whether or not this is a reflection of increasing severe weather events or increasing forecast skill (or both) later on...
Regardless of the historical significance of the semantics, etc., as we've been saying for several days now here on the blog, Saturday is indeed shaping up to be a significant, potentially life threatening severe weather day (and night).
If you live anywhere within the black hatched area on the image below, you should be on a high state of alertness from late Saturday afternoon into Saturday evening and night:
Very large hail of 2 inches or greater in diameter, wind gusts in excess of 70 mph, and strong to violent, potentially long track tornadoes are possible in this area. This includes the cities of Wichita Falls, Lawton, Oklahoma City, Enid, Ponca City, Wichita, Hutchinson, Emporia, Salina, Topeka, Lawrence, Manhattan, Kansas City and Omaha. This threat may extend into the Tulsa area during the pre-dawn hours of early Sunday morning.
Within the above region, the highest risk for strong to violent, long track tornadoes appears to be setting up along the I-35 corridor from Oklahoma City through Wichita to near Salina, KS. Thunderstorms will initiate in this region by late afternoon or more likely during the evening hours Saturday and progress East/Northeastward into the night.
This is a potentially dangerous and life threatening situation for the indicated areas. If you live in this region, please make sure that you have a way to receive severe weather warnings from late Saturday afternoon into Saturday night. This is a particularly dangerous situation even more so than usual because a significant portion of the activity is likely to occur after dark. Be sure that you have some way to receive warnings at night if you live in this region.
Folks in this area should take a few minutes to prepare ahead of time:
If you live in a mobile home across this region, try and make arrangements to stay with a friend or relative in a more substantial structure Saturday night. Statistics show that you are 15 times more likely to die from a tornado in a mobile home than in a traditional frame built structure. Please don't become another statistic.
The best protection from strong and violent tornadoes is an underground storm shelter. The second best is a basement (but make sure to get under something sturdy and/or wear a crash helmet in case debris were to fall down into the basement). If you live in a traditional frame built home without one of those options, you too may want to consider staying with someone who does on Saturday night if you live in the primary threat area described above.
Stay tuned here on the blog for updates on this potentially dangerous situation later today, and of course for full coverage on Saturday...
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