The unusual March-like temperatures bathing much of the country this week are coming with a nasty side effect: March-like thunderstorms. A small but feisty severe weather outbreak is brewing in the center of the country right now, with damaging winds, large hail, and even a few tornadoes possible.
The Storm Prediction Center has issued a slight risk for severe thunderstorms—a two on a scale from zero to five- across a decent portion of the central United States this afternoon. A marginal risk extends from the Texas/Mexico border up through the western Great Lakes, stretching as far north as Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Most folks under a slight or marginal risk could see damaging winds, hail, and possibly a couple of tornadoes.
The greatest risk at the time this post went online lies across Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, where there’s sufficient instability and wind shear to allow a line of storms to grind their way east from Kansas City to the northern Dallas suburbs. The line will continue to grow and more storms will develop through the evening.
Once the main line of storms sweeps through, you should be in the clear.
The greatest threat for damaging winds lies in the lines of storms, while the hail and tornado threat is predominately in the individual storms that are able to acquire spin on on their own. Due to the risk of the latter, the SPC has issued a 5% risk for tornadoes across much of the slight risk zone. 5% doesn’t sound like much, but that’s 50 times higher than normal for November 5.
To that point, it certainly feels strange to talk about bad thunderstorms when we’re just a few weeks from Thanksgiving, but fall typically sees a second peak in severe weather season. The transition seasons of spring and fall see frequent low pressure systems, allowing fronts to crash into warm, unstable air to the south and trigger strong thunderstorms. It’s not as bad in the fall as it is in the spring, of course, but any tornado swirling through your neighborhood or hailstones pelting you on the highway is a big deal.
Since most people don’t normally think about spring-like storms in November, not everybody is paying attention to the weather today. If you live in the area or know someone who does, let them know to stay alert this evening for rapidly changing conditions, and to pay attention to watches and warnings for their area.
Threats like damaging winds and tornadoes are bad enough during the day, but they’re even more dangerous at night when fewer people are paying attention. No matter where you are or what threats you face, never rely on a single source for urgent weather information. Make sure you have numerous ways of receiving severe weather warnings, whether it’s via the internet, reliable cell phone apps or the WEA, television, radio, or NOAA weather radio. Whatever you do, though, don’t rely on tornado sirens. These outdoor warning systems are unreliable and they are not designed to be heard indoors.
The threat for severe weather will shift east tomorrow along a cold front, with communities from Toronto, Ontario, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, possibly seeing some strong thunderstorms.