Panhandle Severe Threat

namSGP_con_scp_015PNGThere is a severe thunderstorm threat late this afternoon and into the evening hours near the extreme eastern Texas panhandle and much of adjacent Oklahoma. While this is not a classic severe setup, as storms should be isolated, a few supercells could form just ahead of a dryline later on today.

The setup includes a surface low pressure system developing over the Oklahoma panhandle this afternoon/evening. Although there is an upper level trough also swinging through, the timing appears to be a bit too late for a more significant threat. Winds near the surface are backed to a SSE direction for much of the western half of Oklahoma. While the low level wind speeds will back off for a time, as the trough approaches between 00z and 06z, the winds should ramp back up again. The 12z Dodge City sounding showed 850mb winds of 59 knots.

Into this afternoon, daytime heating will allow for some modest destablization and CAPE values in the range of 1000 to 2000 J/kg in the area. While kinematic support is decent, the best dynamics appear to be just a little bit too far to the west for widespread storms.

Here’s the thinking:
Some isolated thunderstorms should begin to develop around or shortly after 21z with at least a few supercells. There is a narrow window near or just after 00z where there is a slightly enhanced. Large hail is the most significant threat, but some damaging wind gusts will be possible too. Into the evening hours, as moist air pumps northward and the kinematic support increases, the storms will likely consolidate into a squall line or line segments and continue eastward. The greatest threat at that point will become damaging winds. By then, a cold front will be the main driving force as the dryline retreats.

My plan:
I’m staying in the Oklahoma City area for the next several days. Around lunchtime today, I will be heading west on I-40 toward the Texas state-line. Depending on how near-term trends pan out, I will then pick a more specific point to setup. Since there will likely be congestion and heavy chaser traffic along I-40, I am leaning toward going somewhere either north or south of there. This is all to be determined based on how things look this afternoon.

There is also a severe threat up into Kansas, but I am staying relatively local today. The two-day trip from Connecticut took over 1,500 miles and I’m more focused on this weekend. The Saturday to Sunday time-frame could become volatile as the computer models continue to show the potential for a significant severe outbreak. Stay tuned for more details on this later on.

Some model data:
The HRRR/RAP high resolution models are not in the best agreement with the threat today. The HRRR appears to be lagging too far west. When looking at the 12z high-res NAM, it shows two clusters of storms developing late this afternoon. One is near the eastern Texas panhandle border with Oklahoma, with another cluster further north into Kansas. I remain focused on the southern end, as there should be more instability and greater low-level moisture/higher dew-points.

Considering that I only have to drive about two hours to get into the greatest severe threat today, I can’t complain. Below is a look at the Storm Prediction Center outlook for all severe thunderstorms and more specifically tornadoes.

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Quincy is a meteorologist and storm chaser who travels around the country documenting and researching severe weather. He has on-air experience with stations such as WTNH-TV in New Haven, CT and WREX-TV in Rockford, IL. He was most recently a digital meteorologist for After achieving his B.S. degree in Meteorology at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) in 2009, he returned as a University Assistant to help produce weather broadcasts. He also gave guest lectures and worked on website design. He has over nine years of professional weather forecasting experience and his forecasts have been featured in newspapers and on radio stations in multiple states.

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