Saturday, February 26, 2011

Severe weather potential

Interesting forecast shaping up for tomorrow evening. Somewhat strong trough will move into OK tomorrow bringing with i the chance for significant severe weather to central and eastern OK and continuing eastward overnight.

The more certain portion of the forecast is the later period late Sunday night when it appears probable that a severe MCS/squall line will tear up parts MO, AR, LA again. I think its likely as more time will allow for more moisture to advect northward in what amounts to me to be an odd linkage between a pre-existing low level jet well east of the effects of the trough and the trough. The apparent phasing of the two will occur later sunday evening. These highly dynamic environments lead to some interesting MCSs.

The early part of the threat in central OK is less certain. To me, at the moment, the most interesting part of the forecast is that the features of interest appear to slow down before entering it the Plains, then speed up once they do. This makes for a confusing scenario. The prominent features I see this morning are the dryline in western OK, the dryline warm front intersection in NW OK, and the rather strong 700 hPa cold advection over the dryline all at 00 UTC. Now, I have no idea what to expect in this type of slow then fast large scale regime. This fact alone adds uncertainty for my limited experience of significant severe weather in OK during Feb.

What is not clear is if the cold advection aloft will be enough to remove the cap, and if the instability will be large enough to be realized. We just had some rain followed by cold temperatures, and soil water fractions are high apparently. The last 10 and 30 day rainfall maps show that western OK is dry and eastern OK has seen around 2+ inches. So it is possible that strong sensible heating will take place on Sunday in areas that are drier ahead of the dryline. Will this actually matter? I will tell you on Monday.

The other major issue is how the dryline and shear align. At the moment the mean wind for sunday evening appears to be from the SW and the dryline is oriented more north-south. This angle difference will allow storms to move off the dryline. The shear vector should also orient itself across the dryline but the magnitude of that angle will be very important to storm mode.

I guess my inclination at this moment are that all the necessary ingredients can be found, it will be a matter of how they come together and when that will occur and for how long. For now, at least, it is important to get that moisture screaming northward. I could use a good storm chase.

A lot will change. But I think there is a chance for supercells. I am uncertain where convective initiation will occur, and where severe storms will get going, and what that initial mode will be. I will evaluate the Short range ensemble Forecast (SREF) when the 15z run becomes available later this afternoon.  Really this is just me getting my thoughts ramped up ... otherwise known as situational awareness.