Our Thoughts on the “Hype” Surrounding the 4/26 Severe Weather Event
- Wednesday, 27 April 2016 21:06
- Written by Jenny Brown
For days leading up to yesterday evening, the various forecast models were spitting out solutions that looked downright scary. Solutions that we don’t always see each Spring which elevated concerns about a potential tornadic outbreak across parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. The media, like it always does, latched onto that from the beginning and continued to spread the message that something really really bad could happen. And we did have a few bad things happen…namely the three tornadoes that touched down in Grayson county last night (EF-1 in Whitesboro, EF-1 in Howe, and an EF-0 in Bells). For the residents impacted by that storm, the forecast for dangerous tornadoes verified. For the rest of us, not so much…and now forecasters are under fire for over-hyping the event by getting the forecast all wrong. In the storm chasing community, we call it the Hype Train…and everyone was onboard, including us. Why? Because it really could have happened.
There were so many ingredients in place yesterday which made the atmosphere quite volatile…more volatile than we typically see in April. But, as always, the devil is in the details, and not all those details can be picked up by any of the forecast models until just shortly before or as the event unfolds. Uncertainty was continually part of the message conveyed by the Storm Prediction Center in their Severe Weather Outlooks for yesterday’s event. Uncertainty about how far east the dryline would migrate…uncertainty about how far south into Texas the threat would extend given the colossal cap in place early on…and considerable uncertainty existed on how quickly storms would transition from discrete to linear given the lack of low to mid-level directional flow. So, in one hand you have a forecast that looks like a tornado outbreak is possible, and in the other hand you have a forecast for a raging squall line. The question then becomes how do you warn the public that it could get really bad, but then again it might not. Do you go with the lesser threat and just cross your fingers that all heck doesn’t break loose? Or, do you warn the public based on the potential of more significant weather and hope it doesn’t materialize?
Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. That will always be the stance taken by forecasters. Why? Because a busted forecast doesn’t mean lives or property were lost by getting the forecast wrong. There is absolutely no 100% accuracy in forecasting…not by anyone. The mechanisms that produce severe weather are so incredibly complex that nobody will ever be able to achieve 100% accuracy…at least not in our lifetime..and probably not even our grandkids’ lifetimes. The job of forecasters is to forecast the potential impacts…which sometimes means the worst possible outcome, then prepare their forecast in hopes that people will listen, take action and stay safe. We will continue to do the same here with our forecasts.
8:20 AM Saturday Severe Weather Update
- Saturday, 16 April 2016 08:20
- Written by Jenny Brown
The latest update from the Storm Prediction Center continues the Slight Risk over parts of the eastern Texas panhandle stretching down through the rolling plains, trans pecos, permian basin and big country regions. The dryline is forecast to shift further east this afternoon than we saw yesterday which will shift the risk of strong to severe storm development just off the caprock. Storms are not expected to initiate until after 3pm and current trends have them developing across northwest Texas and the northern to eastern panhandle first, then building south/southwest along the dryline later in the evening hours. The initial storm mode between 4pm and 7pm is expected to be isolated supercells in the eastern panhandle down into northwest Texas/rolling plains region which will carry a threat of large hail, damaging winds and perhaps a few tornadoes. Additional more widespread thunderstorm development is expected further south towards I-20 and down into the eastern Permian Basin/Big Country region where the potential for embedded supercell thunderstorms and widespread heavy rain will impact the area into the late evening and early overnight hours. Overnight, bands of heavy rain will develop with the chance for flash flooding likely, especially where training or bands of storms can set up. Flash Flood Watches across these regions will be in effect from this evening through Sunday evening.
Current high-resolution model forecast animated loop through 9pm this evening.
Severe Storm Risk Shifted West This Evening; Now Includes all of D/FW
- Wednesday, 23 March 2016 11:47
- Written by David Reimer
The latest morning weather model guidance indicates the dryline is going to be a bit slower to push east today. The result will be the risk of severe thunderstorms this evening occuring further west than previously expected. As such the Storm Prediction Center has shifted the category 2 (elevated) severe weather risk west to include all of North Texas. Uncertainty remains on how far south storms will fire this evening. It is possible a broken line of storms will develop into Central Texas tonight. Confidence in a squall line forming west of I-35 around 5-8 PM and moving east through I-35 and into Northeast/East Texas tonight is increasing. Some storms may produce large hail up to the size of golfballs and damaging wind gusts over 60 MPH. The threat for damaging hail will be highest when storms are still discrete. Once they congeal into a line the threat for damaging winds will increase. Based on the latest forecast it appears that a line of strong to severe storms will move east through the D/FW Metroplex around 9-11 PM. If storms are able to develop further south they would likely do so in a southwest fashion – thus impacting the eastern Hill Country first. That possibility will be explored this afternoon as mesoscale factors will play a role in the cap breaking.
Evening Update – Another Round of Heavy Rain & Storms Overnight/Early Thursday
- Wednesday, 09 March 2016 21:02
- Written by Jenny Brown
Heavy rain and thunder continue across parts of southeast Texas, south central Texas and East Texas this evening. I suppose you could call this Round 2, and it’s looking highly likely we’ll see Round 3 late tonight and early tomorrow as additional storms continue to develop over the Gulf waters. The Storm Prediction Center’s latest update keeps the far southeastern edge of the state within a Slight Risk for severe weather. So far, we’ve seen very few instances of severe weather this afternoon. However, conditions remain favorable for the development of stronger storms along the upper coastal plains and into Louisiana late tonight into early Thursday as Round 3 makes it onshore. Sufficient instability with increasing lift from the approaching low will provide an environment favorable for a couple of severe storms containing damaging wind gusts and possibly one or two tornadoes. This is not a high probability, but it’s there.
I’m sure you’re tired of reading this by now, but flooding will continue to be an issue overnight into early Thursday. The latest Storm Prediction Center precipitation analysis targets 2+ inch per hour rainfall rates likely during this period as moisture is channeled between a couple of stalled atmospheric boundaries situated across southeast Texas. These boundaries have effectively channeled gulf moisture over a rather narrow corridor creating a series of training storms over the past 12 to 18 hours. So far, we’ve only seen reports of nuisance flooding across southeast Texas, but this will likely become much more problematic by early tomorrow. Expect a rough commute tomorrow morning and be sure to check local news for road conditions before heading out the door and allow extra time to reach your destination.
Here’s how the radar might shape up overnight and through 9am tomorrow. The following images were pulled from the latest run of the high-resolution HRRR forecast model. David will be up tonight and early tomorrow providing coverage and the latest updates, so be sure to check back before you head out tomorrow!
11:15am Severe Weather/Flood Update
- Wednesday, 09 March 2016 11:16
- Written by Jenny Brown
The latest outlook from the Storm Prediction Center pushes the slight risk further south along the coastal bend. The persistent upper level low spinning over northern Mexico will continue to slowly shift east today and Thursday. Lift from several pieces of energy ejecting from the low will bring multiple rounds of storms, some severe, across the Slight Risk region this afternoon. So far, most of the storms this morning have remained below severe limits with only a few instances of strong wind, hail and periods of very heavy rain. Cloud cover and persistent rain will help to stabilize the atmosphere; however, for areas along the immediate coastline…which has thus far not been as affected by continuous precipitation… could see the atmosphere destabilize enough later this afternoon for a couple of strong storms. Damaging winds and some hail will be the main threats, but wind shear is projected to be sufficient to get storms rotating with a possible quick tornadic spinup.
As David mentioned in his earlier blog, widespread flooding and flash flooding issues are anticipated to increase as constant heavy rainfall continues to impact the south central Texas and coastal regions. Where lines of storms setup and train repeatedly over the same areas will be the most impacted. Below is a look at the latest precipitation outlook through midnight tonight from the HRRR short-range model.