A couple of strong to marginally severe storms are possible this afternoon across West-Central Texas. Mediocre low-level moisture and the resulting lack of higher instability values look to preclude a more notable severe weather threat. The drought-stricken region definitely needs all the rain it can get, so this is good news.
Our friends at the Storm Prediction Center have placed the southern Texas Panhandle, the Caprock, and a good chunk of West-Central Texas in a level one risk of severe weather. The primary time window for a few stronger storms looks to be between 3 PM and 9 PM.
Surface dewpoint values will only be in the upper 40s to around 50 degrees. We would want to see dewpoint values above 60 degrees in the Big Country with the middle 50s in the higher terrain of the Panhandle for a more notable severe weather threat.
Nevertheless there looks to be enough upper-level energy and modest instability values to support a few organized thunderstorms during peak-heating today. With cloud bases expected to be quite high, we’ll definitely have to be on the watch for microbursts.
Microbursts, such as the one that brought down Delta 191, are localized but intense areas of damaging winds. Gusts often exceed 60 to 70 MPH and can produce localized wind damage. Given dry soil conditions they can also create small haboobs – the meteorological term for blowing dust caused by a thunderstorm.
Some hailstones may exceed the size of quarters if we can get any particularly organized thunderstorm cores this afternoon. The tendency for storms to ‘gust out’ will hopefully keep hail sizes from getting too large.
Thunderstorms may grow upscale into a small complex or line segment by the early evening. That potential cluster of storms would try and move east toward the Big Country or Northwest Texas. Thunderstorm intensity should slowly decrease not long after sunset, but gusty winds and small hail will be possible into the mid-evening.
More numerous showers and a couple of storms will develop tonight across the Texas Panhandle south toward the Big Country and Concho Valley. This activity should not contain severe storms. They’ll move east/southeast and bring rain chances to more of the state on Wednesday.
Overall rain totals should remain below a one-half inch in most locations. A few lucky folks in West-Central Texas and the northern/eastern Texas Panhandle may pick up a bit over one-half inch of rain.
We’ll look more at the rain chances tonight into Wednesday in a separate blog post. That blog post can be expected by about 4:30 PM.