After a comparatively quiet day in the storm department, we’ll be ramping back up for your Thursday. The highest potential for severe storms will be between 4 PM and 10 PM across the Texas Panhandle and West Texas. However, there is a chance a cluster of storms may make a run at Northwest Texas, the Big Country, and even parts of North Texas this evening. If that ends up looking more likely an expansion of that level two risk to the southeast would likely occur. See our discussion below for more details on that possibility.
Severe Weather Outlook from the Storm Prediction Center
The Storm Prediction Center has placed the eastern two-thirds of the Texas Panhandle southward into West Texas in a level two risk of severe weather. That means folks near and within that risk have a 15% chance of severe weather occurring within 25 miles of their location.
A level one risk of severe weather runs farther south through the Big Country and southwest into the Permian Basin. Storm coverage is expected to be lower than in the level two risk zone, but hazards would be similar. Those in and near this marginal severe weather risk have a 5% chance of severe weather occurring within 25 miles of their location.
Severe Weather Threats
High cloud bases will keep the tornado threat very low this afternoon. While high cloud bases temper the tornado threat, they allow for an increased risk of microbursts and localized damaging wind gusts. Hail is also going to be a noticeable hazard with instability values on the extreme side.
Very large hail up to the size of tennis-balls may occur with the strongest storms. If a particularly intense supercell is able to materialize the hail may be closer to the size of a baseball.
Localized wind gusts over 65 MPH are a good bet. If a cluster of thunderstorms is able to organize the potential of wind gusts exceeding 70 MPH would increase.
As stated above the high cloud bases should keep the tornado threat very low this afternoon. If by chance we had a discrete/semi-discrete storm after 6 PM in the Panhandle then we’d have to watch for an increased tornado threat. At the time of this writing that is an outlier solution.
Detailed discussion along with timing
A few different mechanisms of storm initiation will be possible today. The first is the dryline which will be located across western sections of the Texas Panhandle south through West Texas and into the Permian Basin. Additional sources of storm initiation may be on remnant outflow boundaries left over from isolated storms on Wednesday.
Once storms get going they make get rather potent in a hurry. Instability values will be on the extreme side and wind shear values are more supportive of organized thunderstorms compared to Wednesday. Initial storm mode may be supercelluar with a risk of very large hail and localized damaging wind gusts.
Winds in the mid-levels of the atmosphere are somewhat weak. That may cause a more messy storm mode today. Storms may have a tendency to try and ‘cluster’ with other storms and eventually grow into a small squall line.
Should that upscale growth occur storms would likely turn more southeasterly, maybe even more south/southeasterly. This scenario would result in an increased risk of damaging wind gusts along with large hail. It would also likely require the expansion of the severe weather probabilities into Northwest Texas, western North Texas, and the Big Country. We’ll be watching trends and I encourage y’all to check back for new forecast updates around lunchtime.
Regardless of their eventual location thunderstorms should be in a weakening state by 10 PM. The threat for severe weather will be diminishing by 11 PM, but whatever is left of the storms may continue into the overnight hours.