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Tornado Watch Issued for Parts of LA, MS, AL, and FL Panhandle Until 6 PM CST

Tornado watch  number 7

A tornado watch has been issued for southeast Louisiana and Mississippi, all of south Alabama, and the western Florida Panhandle until 6 PM CST this evening.

Primary threats include…

  • Tornadoes with a couple intense tornadoes possible.
  • Widespread damaging winds with isolated significant gusts
    to 75 mph possible.
  • Isolated large hail with hail up to 1.5 inches in diameter possible.

UPDATE (11:43 AM CST): A separate tornado watch (number 8) has also been issued for the remainder of the Florida Panhandle and Coffee Geneva, Houston, Henry, and Dale counties in Alabama until 7 PM CST.

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Tornado Threat has Increased for Today

There have been some changes with what is expected in regard to the severe weather threat later today.

Initially we were expecting the main convective mode to be linear with damaging winds and an isolated tornado or two being the main concern. However, at least a few discrete supercells could now form ahead of the main convective line.

This means:

1) Tornadoes are more likely.

2) All modes of severe weather are now possible, including damaging wind gusts up to 70 mph.

Looking at the latest outlook from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC),  south Alabama and southwest Georgia have been upgraded to a level 3 (out of 5) enhanced risk for severe storms.

This area is has the greatest risk of seeing tornadoes — and severe storms in general — and where there is potential for strong tornadoes per the SPC. Timing looks to be late morning (10 or 11 AM CST) through the evening hours.

We also note that high resolution model guidance now indicates that the squall line will hold together for a few hours after sunset.

The severe threat will end from west to east with the passage of the front.

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Quick Update: South Alabama Upgraded to Level 3 (Enhanced) Risk for Severe Storms Tomorrow

The is now an enhanced (level 3 out of 5) risk for severe storms from south Alabama (just north of Mobile) into southwest Georgia.

Short-range mesoscale models are now indicating that supercells and/or storm clusters ahead of the main line tomorrow. If this comes to fruition, it would increase the tornado potential, which prompted the upgrade.

Overall, this means we could be looking at both a damaging wind and tornado threat.

We will have another update out early tomorrow morning.

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Some Strong – Severe Storms Likely Tomorrow With Squall Line

A band of storms is going to form just ahead of a strong cold front early tomorrow afternoon across Mississippi and east/southeast Louisiana. Once formed, it will progress east through the day. But by the evening/overnight hours, CAPE should decrease, likely inducing a weakening trend as the line tracks into southeast Alabama, southern Georgia, and the Florida Panhandle.

A moderately unstable warm sector and increased bulk shear values are still expected to allow for a few strong – severe storms. The Storm Prediction Center has maintained the level 2 slight risk area with little change.

Damaging wind gusts remain the primary concern. However, as noted in our previous update, other modes of severe weather can’t be ruled out entirely.

For those interested, here is a link to the SPC risk categories and what they mean: link

It is also worth noting that additional rainfall amounts could renew flooding issues for parts of Mississippi and Alabama.

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Winter to Return With Blast of Arctic Air Sunday Into Next Week

Figure 1. GFS predicted wind chill values at 6 AM CST Wednesday. (Pivotal Weather)

The much advertised arctic blast arrives Sunday into Monday.

We will have to deal with a severe weather threat first. However, once the front is through on Sunday, a significantly colder air mass is going to push in beneath a dome of surface high pressure.

How Cold?

To give you an idea of just how cold it is going to get, temperatures up to 30 degrees below normal are expected in north Texas.

The coldest night for the northern Gulf Coast will be Tuesday night.

Monday night: Lows in the 20s are likely for parts of Texas and north/central Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama Monday night. And with a north wind, it will feel like it is in the teens.

Tuesday night: 20s will be more widespread, reaching down to areas just north of  I-10. Wind chill values will also be much colder, with 20s likely as far south as the central Gulf Coast (see figure 1).

We do note that the freezing line is unlikely to make it to the immediate coast.

In regard to highs, the coldest day for the Gulf Coast will be Tuesday, with lower 50s forecast for highs.

Warming Up By Late Next Week

We briefly touched on the idea that the cold expected this month would be brief back in a post on February 21st.

This still appears to be the case. It looks like a positive phase of the NAO and EPO will likely drive a return to a warmer pattern for the south and east around or after the 8th.

 

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A few Strong to Severe Storms Likely Sunday

NAM simulated radar valid at 3 PM CST Sunday.

An area of low pressure and strong arctic front are going to transport warm, moist air from the Gulf into the Southeast Sunday.

A squall line is expected to develop ahead of the front Sunday morning/early afternoon, over the lower Mississippi Valley. It will track east with the front during the remainder of the day into the overnight hours.

Moderate CAPE (instability) and shear will be supportive of some strong to severe storms.

The Storm Prediction Center has hatched a level 1 out of 2 slight risk area for east Louisiana, central and south Mississippi and Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. A level 1 marginal risk area has also been defined. Areas impacted by severe weather just last weekend are included in the risk zone.

But we want to stress that this setup is very different from last weekend.  The main convective mode is still likely to be linear, not cellular, meaning the primary threat will be straight-line winds.  However, the tornado threat won’t be zero.

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Another Round of Severe Weather This Weekend; Major Cold to Follow

Looking ahead to this weekend, model guidance is projecting an organized line of storms to develop ahead of a strong arctic front Sunday, over the lower Mississippi Valley. During the day, the line will sweep east in tandem with the front.

The aforementioned front will be associated with the area of low pressure we talked about in yesterday’s update. Both will work to bring warm, modified Gulf air north, into the warm sector.

In regard to severe parameters, at least moderate CAPE (instability) values are expected. This means there will be some potential for strong/severe storms. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has already defined a 15% risk area.

This setup will be different from last weekend. The main convective mode should be linear, meaning the primary threat is likely to be damaging winds. However, that does not mean other severe threats (hail and tornadoes) won’t be possible. With that said, it is still a bit too early to get specific.

Also, it should be noted that the risk area defined by the SPC is subject to change.

We will be able to get more in depth tomorrow and Saturday as the situation becomes clearer and the time frame get smaller.

Much colder air is still anticipated in the wake of the front. And next week should feature well below-average temperatures across much of the nation.

 

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Wave of Low Pressure to Track Across the South This Weekend

Figure 1. QPF for the next 5 days.

A wave low pressure is forecast to track across the South this weekend. Timing was looking like Monday – Tuesday yesterday, but now looks more like Saturday – Sunday.

Model guidance differs slightly. However, the overall consensus is for the low to emerge out of the Southern Plains late Saturday/early Sunday before ejecting northeast by late Sunday while deepening. Widespread rain and thunderstorms will be likely from east Texas to Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

Looking at the latest QPF from the Weather Prediction Center, rain amounts in the 2 – 4″ range still look likely for the central Gulf Coast region.

Additionally, the ECMWF is showing some high surface-based CAPE (instability) values Sunday. So, we could also be looking at some strong to potentially severe storms.

For far north Mississippi and Alabama, there are signs that there could be some wintry mischief; we consider this unlikely at this time though.

 

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Arctic Air to Spill South Next Week

Figure 1. GFS predicted temperatures for the morning of Wednesday, March 6th, 2019. (Tropical Tidbits)

Meteorological spring might start on Friday. But as has been discussed, winter is finally going to make a reappearance next week as the large-scale pattern flips.

Computer models are showing a strong trough sweeping across the eastern two-thirds of the nation. This will likely bring a strong cold front through around the middle of next week, and a blast of arctic air behind it.

The latest CPC 6 – 10 day outlook still indicates a high probability of below-average temperatures from the 4th to 8th. Looking at the latest EPS, temperatures ~ 12 degrees (C) below normal are predicted along the Gulf Coast Tuesday – Thursday.

It is still a bit early to get too specific. However, there will probably be freezing temperatures all the way down to the Gulf Coast. We could also see widespread frosts/freezes across the South.

Cold Unlikely to Last


If you are ready for spring, good news: it does look like the pattern will revert to one that favors milder temperatures for the South and East as the month progresses.


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Another Low-End Severe Threat Expected Thursday; Unsettled for Reminder of The Week

Figure 1. Severe weather outlook for Thursday. (NOAA/SPC)

A passing shortwave is going to bring scattered to numerous showers and some embedded thunderstorms to the north and northeast Gulf Coast Thursday.

We anticipate another low-end severe threat. The Storm Prediction Center has defined a level 1 out of 5 (marginal) risk area for southeast Mississippi, south Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle.

However, just like today, any strong/severe storms will be isolated.

Currently, it looks like the main threat with any stronger storms will be strong wind gusts. Some periods of heavier rain are also likely.

Unsettled Pattern to Continue: Looking ahead, an unsettled pattern looks to remain in place for the northern Gulf Coast for the next week, as upper shortwaves will continue to traverse the region. It also looks like an area of low pressure could bring more widespread rain next Monday or Tuesday.

Overall, rain amounts of 2 – 4″ are forecast over the next week or so.


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