'Life-Threatening' Weather Possible across Central U.S. Saturday
Apr 13, 2012
A potentially dangerous weather event is gaining strength and is poised to bring severe thunderstorms, damaging hail, and deadly tornadoes to parts of the Central US on Saturday.
The storm will be preceded by a weaker, but still dangerous round of severe weather today across the Central and Southern Plains, bringing with it the threat for flash flooding, dangerous lightning, hail and wind damage, and possibly a few tornadoes.
Unfortunately, today’s weather is only the precursor for what appears to be a historic severe weather outbreak on Saturday.
In preparation for Saturday’s severe weather, the Storm Prediction Center (SPC)
issued a severe weather outlook for Saturday that includes a "High Risk" for severe weather and high likelihood of a tornado outbreak across parts of the Central and Southern Plains.
|Storm Prediction Center Severe Weather Outlook for Saturday, April 14, 2012. Click on the image for the SPC's latest severe weather forecast as it is likely to change. (Image credit: NOAA/Storm Prediction Center)
According to the SPC, an impressive upper-level low will move out across the Southern Rockies during the day on Saturday while a powerful jet stream surges northeastward into the High Risk area of the Central and Southern Plains. At the same time, ahead of the system, an area of strong to moderate instability will form across Northwestern Texas, Central Oklahoma, and East-Central Kansas.
This instability, combined with strong low-level shearing will create an environment that is very favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms. The SPC added "a tornado outbreak will be likely across the Southern and Central Plains from late Saturday afternoon lasting through the evening and into the overnight period." Tornadoes that occur after dark as more dangerous as they are difficult to see and warnings may not be heard by people who are sleeping.
In the outlook for Saturday, the SPC warned that factors appear to be moving into place to create an environment very favorable for the development of supercell thunderstorms and tornadoes. The SPC also cautioned that the environment would be ripe for large hail with hail greater than 2 inches possible in the most intense storms. Due to the nature of the storms, wind damage is also a possibility. The SPC cited an increasing jet stream, dew points in the 60s, and other factors combining together to make "a tornado outbreak appear likely."
The SPC collaborated with National Weather Service (NWS) forecast offices in Wichita, KS; Norman, OK; Topeka, KS; Tulsa, OK; and Dodge City, KS and issued the "High Risk" outlook for Saturday, citing "a potential for a high-end life threatening event across the Southern and Central Plains."
|The area in blue has more than a 60% chance of seeing severe weather within 25 miles of any given point. This is extremely high in terms of severe weather forecasting. If you live in this area, be alert. (Image credit: NOAA/Storm Prediction Center)
As of Friday morning, other areas at risk for severe weather during the day on Saturday include parts of Texas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and South Dakota. According to the SPC forecast, the greatest risk for significant tornadoes will be from Salina, KS south to Oklahoma City, OK – along the I-35/I-135 corridor (see severe weather probability map). If you live in the Central or Southern Plains, monitor local media and the SPC
for the latest forecast as the areas affected or severity of the outbreak can change rapidly.
This is a unique situation where the factors for significant severe weather are almost a certainty more than 24 hours ahead of the event. This should give the public plenty of time to prepare themselves, their families, and their businesses for the likelihood of damaging severe weather.
This is a potentially life-threatening situation. Please take the appropriate precautions to protect yourselves and your families, businesses, and property.