Severe storms possible statewide today (March 28, 2017)

…Tornado risk highest over southwest Oklahoma…

Satellite loops this morning show a powerful storm system moving across Arizona and New Mexico.  Strong lifting associated with this storm will be spreading over the Southern Plains this afternoon and evening.

The surface weather map shows a warm front extending west to east across Texas, from just north of Abilene to just south of Dallas.  Very moist air resides south of the front.  This boundary should lift northward to at least the Red River this afternoon, and may lie across southern Oklahoma by late afternoon or early evening.

Thunderstorms are expected to form in a strong warm air advection regime across western Oklahoma during the morning hours.  This activity will spread north and northeast through the afternoon.  Some potential exists for these storms to produce marginally severe hail.

By mid-afternoon, more vigorous thunderstorm activity is expected to form along and either side of the warm front over northwest Texas and southwest Oklahoma.  The atmosphere in this region will be quite moist and unstable, and forecast wind profiles show large amounts of low and deep layer shear, especially near the front.  Storms forming here will have the potential to rapidly attain supercell characteristics with all severe weather hazards possible.  A strong tornado or two cannot be ruled out.

As thunderstorms grow upscale in coverage by evening / spreading into central and eastern Oklahoma, the main threat will transition to wind damage and hail.  While the concern for tornadoes will be highest across southwest Oklahoma, the tornado risk in Oklahoma City is not zero.

In addition to the severe weather risk, torrential rainfall from repeated storms is likely to cause some localized areas of flooding.

People across the state / especially southwest and south central Oklahoma / should review safety rules and be prepared to act should warnings be issued.

Severe thunderstorms likely Sunday – March 26

The weather will undergo some dramatic changes today.  We are starting cool – in some cases, cold – across Oklahoma at daybreak this Sunday morning.  The low temperature in Okarche was 38 degrees.  A small but strong storm system is moving quickly toward the state.  In response, surface low pressure will be organizing over the panhandles and move into northwest Oklahoma by late afternoon.  Warm and moist air / currently residing across central Texas / will move rapidly northward through the afternoon hours.  By mid-afternoon, the atmosphere over central and eastern Oklahoma will become quite unstable.  A dryline will begin pushing eastward across western Oklahoma, and this feature will provide a focus for isolated to scattered thunderstorm development by mid to late afternoon.  Given the degree of instability and very strong wind shear profiles, the storms will have the potential to organize into supercells with all facets of severe weather possible.  At the current time, very large hail will be the primary threat.  However, if sufficient low level moisture returns into the state, there will also be the threat of a few tornadoes.  Two areas appear most capable of seeing a tornado threat during the late afternoon and evening.  One is across northwest Oklahoma – near the warm front just to the east of the surface low.  The second area is from roughly the Oklahoma City area southward along and either side of the I-35 corridor where moisture is likely to be deeper.

In addition to the severe thunderstorm threat, warm and dry air will be blowing into southwest Oklahoma behind the dryline, and fire danger will become very high during the afternoon.

Don’t let the calm and cool weather this morning cause you to drop your guard.  Stay tuned to weather information through the day and be prepared to act should severe thunderstorms approach.