For today, it’s what I’m calling a “Sunday kickoff”. Scattered severe thunderstorms are expected across the Plains today, but it does not look like a major event. My focus is later on in the week, especially on Tuesday, but I’ll touch on that a bit more later on.
Today is a fairly complex setup, with a lot of little pieces coming together at different times. For this reason, I think the atmosphere will not be taken fully advantage of and today should be a low-end event. By late morning and midday some storms should ramp up across central and eastern Nebraska. It’s back a bit further west and to the south where more daytime heating may generate some more potent storms and possible supercells later this afternoon.
Looking at radar around 13z, a line of showers with embedded thunder had already developed across western Nebraska. The HRRR is running a bit slow with getting this activity going. Regardless, the model data still suggests that the best shot at discrete severe cells will be this afternoon and any outflow boundaries from the morning activity could become the focal point for the later storms to fire. The biggest threats appear to be large hail and damaging winds. As has been the case so many times in 2014, while a few tornadoes appear possible, the tornadic threat is on the low end of the spectrum. We could very well see a mixture of discrete cells and clusters, eventually merging into lines, which will pose more of a damaging wind threat than anything as we go into the evening hours.
If I had to nail down an area with the greatest severe potential, it would be from central Kansas north into south-central Nebraska. Central Nebraska is a bit more of a wildcard with less instability to work with.
The image at the top of this post shows forecast surface-based instability and bulk shear. The best overlay is forecast to be near the central Nebraska/Kansas border. While speed shear is good, low level directional shear is just modest. Near-surface winds are generally south and you would like to see more of an easterly component to enhance a tornado threat.
I won’t spend much time discussing later this week, but Tuesday has the potential to be a significant severe day. The computer models have been fairly consistent with some very impressive severe weather parameters setting up across portions of Kansas and Nebraska. While it’s still a bit early to make a definitive call, it looks like this could be one of the greatest tornado threat days so far this year. Later Tuesday and into Wednesday, the threat shifts east and could still be potent. Stay tuned for more information and since Monday should be quieter in terms of severe storms, I’ll have more time to review and assess the situation.
With my schedule, I’m open to chasing each day Sunday (today) through Wednesday. Thursday should be a travel day before I return home by Friday morning.
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