Pay attention to the weather if you are out and about
WeatherMap: Severe storms Friday Night
It has been a long while since we have had any significant weather to deal with in our part of Texas - really since Imelda back in September. However the atmosphere will become less benign in the next 24 hours giving us our first taste of severe weather (not including flooding) since last May. I won't get into the nitty-gritty of why storms are going to happen, however it is worth noting that the type of dynamic atmospheric set up being foretasted would be noteworthy even in "severe weather season" (ie the spring), no less in January. Will this be the apocalypse? No. However, it has been a long time since we have seen storms as strong as the ones being forecasted, and the timing (Friday night) makes it significant as it will be dark and people are more likely to be out and about. So lets get to it:
What: A strong storm system will be making its way across Texas on Friday with the atmosphere being primed out ahead of it with strong winds off the Gulf pumping ample warmth and moisture into the area. As this storm system approaches storms there will likely be two phases of storms we need to watch out for.
Phase 1 will be individual storms that manage to form during the late afternoon or early evening on Friday. While the odds of this happening are less than the storms in Phase 2, impacts could be just as, if not more, severe *if* it happens. These Phase 1 storms would be what are called discreet supercells. These are storms that exist on their own, not part of a larger line or blob. It is with these storms that large hail and a strong tornado is *possible*. Again, while there is good certainty that if they can develop they could be significant, there is a high level of uncertainty that they will develop. It is the storms in Phase 2 that will likely affect everyone. So lets move on to those:
Phase 2 storms will come in the form of an intense squall line moving from west to east across the area. The hail potential in these storms will be limited, however there is a rather significant risk of high winds (70-80 MPH+) and isolated tornadoes (weaker than what you would see from Phase 1 storms, but a tornado none the less). Also, the lightning will probably be spectacular. Let me speak to the Phase 2 tornado threat for a moment. Often with an intense line of storms small "kinks" can develop in the line causing rotation and a tornado. Usually the resulting tornado is very short lived (sometimes so fast it appears and disappear before the radar can spot it) and "relatively" weak, meaning weaker than its great plains cousins. However these types of tornadoes still pose a danger particularly to those caught outside or in a car. Make sure you have a way to receive warnings (ie. your phone), especially if you plan to be out Friday night.
Model simulated radar for Midnight Friday nightWeathermodels.com
When: Phase 1 storms, if they develop, would be some time during the late afternoon or early evening, but would be widely scattered. Phase 2 should push into the area as an intense line of storms somewhere between 11 PM and 2 AM
Where: Phase 1 would likely affect those further north and east. Phase 2 storms will get everyone. Again, it is not guaranteed that the part of the line that moves over your exact location will have damaging winds or a tornado, but no one is completely safe from that either.
While rain may be hard enough to cause very isolated spots of high water, the storms will be moving far to quickly to cause any real flood issues. After the storms move through this weekend looks great.
If anything changes I will be back with an update - and as always you can find me on Twitter @stephenuzick