It has been a quiet spring tornado season across the Southern Plains thus far. Oklahoma has now set a record as they’ve yet to have a tornado in 2018. Northeast Texas and East Texas have had a couple of tornado events, but nothing thus far west of Interstate 35. May begins next week and Mother Nature looks like it is going to respond as one might expect. The potential for several days of active weather exists next week. The threats will generally shift from west to east – beginning Sunday and continuing through at least Thursday.
This post isn’t meant to give a specific forecast for each day next week. While Sunday and Monday are indeed within the three-day timeframe, Tuesday, and points beyond are not. We can give you a general idea of what regions might have to deal with severe storms. Specifics will not be able to be accurately determined until we’re within 24 hours of each day. Understand that we’ve been abnormally quiet so far this spring. Next week’s active weather setup isn’t unusual especially considering it’ll be the first week of May.
Sunday, April 29
The first threat for stronger storms will materialize on Sunday across the western Texas Panhandle, western portions of the South Plains, and southward into the Trans-Pecos. A level one risk of severe weather is in place for those regions. Dewpoint values (one way to measure how much moisture is in place) will not have much time to recover tomorrow. They’ll be fairly modest with values only in the 40s.
Cloud bases will be high, but mid-level instability values will support a few organized storms. Hail up to the size of ping-pong balls and localized damaging wind gusts over 65 MPH will be possible. A landspout tornado can’t be ruled out, but supercelluar tornadoes are unlikely due to the high cloud bases.
Monday, April 30
Dewpoint values will be higher on Monday with another day of strong south/southeasterly winds. The dryline will be farther east – probably located across the western Texas Panhandle into West Texas and the Permian Basin. Higher moisture levels compared to Sunday, strong winds in the low-levels and aloft, and an unstable airmass should lead to the development of isolated to widely scattered supercell thunderstorms.
The initial development would probably be between 4 and 6 PM CT. Movement of the storms would be around 20 to 30 MPH off to the east/northeast. Some storms may move more easterly while others move north/northeasterly (a process of splitting supercells). The strongest storms will likely be intense with a risk of hail larger than the size of a baseball along with localized wind gusts over 65 MPH. At least a low tornado threat will exist, especially across the Texas Panhandle.
We’ll get a better idea of the overall tornado risk once we get within 24 hours and a look at smaller-scale processes. Storms may make it 75 to 100 miles east of the dryline, but the cap should squash the storms by 10-11 PM.
Tuesday, May 1
Tuesday presents a more questionable severe weather risk in Texas. We will have a dryline in place along with plenty of instability and moisture. However, weather models are indicating there may not be much ‘lift’ present to break through the cap. Eventually, it’ll probably come down to a few smaller scale factors that we can’t accurately determine until we’re within a day or two. Storm coverage may remain isolated with more storms farther north into Kansas and western Oklahoma. Any storms that do develop could be intense with destructive hail being the primary threat. We can look more in-depth at Tuesday’s risk beginning tomorrow.
Wednesday, May 2
Wednesday, May 2nd is looking like it may be a volatile severe weather day across the Southern Plains of the United States. Compared to Tuesday the dryline will retreat a bit farther west, before accelerating east again during the afternoon hours. A strong upper-level storm system combined with a deepening surface low looks to create impressive wind fields. Multiple days of strong southerly/southeasterly winds will have allowed ample amounts of moisture to gather east of the dryline. Instability values will be impressive as well.
It’s still too far out to determine where the specific threats will be highest, but a severe weather event certainly is possible. The highest threat for severe storms, as designated by the Storm Prediction Center, currently extends from the eastern Texas Panhandle and Northwest Texas eastward into Oklahoma. More isolated, yet intense storms will be possible farther south along the dryline across West Texas and into the Big Country. The eventual position of the dryline will dictate how far west the severe weather threat materializes.
All modes of severe weather will be possible on Wednesday. Destructive hail up to the size of softballs, wind gusts over 70 MPH, and tornadoes all look to be on the table. Exactly how high the tornado threat becomes is dependent on factors we won’t be able to accurately forecast until we’re within about two days. However – the overall synoptic (large-scale) setup would favor a more classic spring severe weather event.
Thursday, May 3
There is no severe weather risk designated yet for Thursday because confidence in the forecast is too low. However, the dryline could be farther east across North Texas extending southwest toward Del Rio. The threat for severe storms will probably continue on Thursday east of the dryline. We’ll likely see a formal severe weather risk added by the Storm Prediction Center for Thursday in subsequent days. At this point, Thursday doesn’t look like it’ll feature the same high-end severe weather threat as to Wednesday, but we are still several days out and refinements can be expected.
Review your Severe Weather Safety Plan
All of this severe weather potential is a simple reminder to go over your severe weather safety plan. It’s May in Texas. Even if you don’t have to deal with storms this upcoming week it’s a good idea to review a safety plan with your family. The more you practice now, the better off and less anxious you’ll be if you have to implement it for real.