Pay attention to the weather if you are out and about

WeatherMap: Severe storms Friday Night

National Weather Service

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

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After a short turnaround, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to their Mecca at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the famed Coca-Cola 600. Of all the races in NASCAR, after Daytona this race may be the most important race on the schedule. The tradition started back in 1959 when former driver and hall of famer Curtis Turner teamed up with Burton Smith to build the track and upon its completion, they decided to make the first race at the new track on the same day as the Indy 500. In an effort to draw fans, they made the race 100 miles longer and from there the rest was history. This year's rendition will be somber though as no fans will be permitted to enter due to Covid-19, but even in this time of unrest it will be a relief to continue to see our heroes take on NASCAR's longest race.

For the first time, NASCAR pulled off it's first midweek race and it was a doozy. For most of the race there was a wide range of characters who were up front. Clint Bowyer set the tone early as he went on to win the first two stages but after getting caught in traffic he fell back. To make matters worse, Bowyer was involved in an accident that ended any chance of victory. While it wasn't the outcome he would have hoped for, to see how well he ran is a sign of good things to come for the Kansas native. I look forward to seeing how he rebounds.

With Bowyer out of it, the attention shifted to Chase Elliott. All night it seemed like he had the second best car and looked to be on his way to another victory but after the caution for Bowyer, Elliott lost a ton of track position after a bad pit-stop. This left the sports most popular driver stuck in traffic, but he was able to make his way back to second. In the final laps, he was easily the best car and appeared to be on his way past Denny Hamlin to take the victory but Kyle Busch had other ideas. The defending champion made a sudden right hand turn and veered into Elliott sending him head on into the wall.

It was safe to say that Elliott was not pleased as he gave Busch the one finger salute as he drove by under caution. The race was not able to resume as Mother Nature intervened giving Hamlin his second win of the season. Many fans and experts alike were critical of Busch's stunt, Jeff Gordon was quoted as saying "Not sure what that was all about." When the race was over, Busch was confronted by Elliott's Crew Chief Alan Gufston. When it was said and done security had to be called to separate the two. While it might not have been intentional, Busch has opened up a can of worms in the future for retaliation. It will be fun to watch what happens next.

Overall, the response to NASCAR's midweek race was overwhelmingly positive as it was the third highest watched event on television. As NASCAR continues to be fluid, more and more people are becoming interested. NASCAR journalist and reporter Adam Stern tweeted that more than thirty percent of the viewers of Sunday's race were new viewers. Even though we may not always agree with the way NASCAR does things, I have to say they have done an outstanding job at putting this schedule together. I hope that in the future, NASCAR continues this new tradition.

Moving on to Charlotte, The driver I have winning this weekend is Chase Elliott. In every race this season, Chase has been a force to be reckoned but has simply run into circumstances he can't control. At Vegas before the shutdown, he seemed to have the race in hand until a flat tire ended any chances of victory. Two weeks later at Phoenix, he led ninety-three laps until fading to a seventh place finish and with a new-found fire lit under him after Darlington, Elliott will be like a bull in the china shop come Sunday. While he has been great at every track he has run at, he has been especially fast at Charlotte. He currently has a 10.60 average finish there and has consistently led laps. This week, I think Elliott will get redemption and claim his sixth career victory in one of NASCAR's crown jewels. Look for him to take his #9 Napa Camaro to victory lane.

(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com the best website for all NASCAR stats)

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