Does anyone remember that arctic blast we had earlier this week? The record low temperatures experienced on Monday with single digits, teens, and twenties? It seems like a distant memory as we see high temperatures top out in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and even 90s this afternoon. With spring temperatures comes the threat of spring thunderstorms, and yes, we’re going to be dealing with multiple chances of strong to severe storms in Texas over the next five days. The first chance is tonight into Saturday morning with a much more widespread event beginning Monday of next week through at least Tuesday night. That one is going to be a soaker, which is good because we also have some fire weather concerns to discuss today. Nice segway, right? Scroll on down past the fire weather if you’re interested in the severe weather discussion.
Elevated to critical fire weather conditions are expected this afternoon across the western half of the Texas Panhandle, West Texas, the Permian Basin, into the Borderland. Southwesterly winds of 20 to 30 MPH with relative humidity values below 25 percent are expected. Surface temperatures will be well above-average with the 70s and 80s. Winds will continue into the night, but relative humidity values will recover quickly after sunset.
Elevated fire weather conditions are forecast for the western half of Texas on Saturday. Westerly winds of 15 to 30 MPH are expected. Relative humidity values will range from 15% in the Texas Panhandle to near 25% near Interstate 35. Potential rains tonight and tomorrow morning should limit fire weather conditions closer to I-35.
Severe Weather Outlook for Tonight into Saturday morning
A level two risk of severe weather is in place for much of North Texas and Northeast Texas. The level two risk is the ‘standard’ risk level for most severe weather threats. Anything higher becomes an enhancement while the level one risk is for marginal potential. Gainesville, Sherman, all of the D/FW Metroplex, Hillsboro Corsicana, Tyer, Paris, Mount Plesant, and Texarkana are a few cities in the level 2 risk. If you are in or NEAR this zone you have a 15% chance of having severe weather occur within 25 miles of your location late tonight and Saturday morning.
A level one risk of severe weather surrounds the higher probabilities and includes the eastern Concho Valley, portions of Central Texas, and portions of East Texas. Wichita Falls, Graham, Stephenville, Brownwood, Brady, Killeen, Waco, Temple, Centerville, Palestine, and Longview are a few cities included in this level one risk. If you are in or NEAR this risk zone you have a 5% chance of having severe weather occur within 25 miles of your location late tonight and Saturday morning.
Please note I did say within or near the risk zones. Storms don’t read maps and certainly couldn’t give two hoots where lines are drawn on a map. These outlooks are updated several times on the day of a risk, so there will be refinements to the risk zones as we move into the day and even into tonight.
Specific severe weather threats
Large hail is expected to be the most common hazard tonight and into Saturday morning. The strongest storms may produce hail up to or near the size of golfballs. There is a conditional threat for very large hail (tennis-ball size) in the level 2 risk zone tonight into Saturday morning if we get an intense severe storm. We also have the risk of localized damaging wind gusts and the potential for an isolated tornado in the level 2 risk.
Take these time estimates as what they are – estimates. The timing will probably change somewhat, either a couple of hours forward or back. Consider these as ‘time windows’.
We do not expect severe weather during the daylight hours today. IF a lead piece of upper-level lift is able to break the cap, we could see isolated thunderstorms develop after 9 PM from Texoma south into the Concho Valley. If storms were to develop they would move northeast over the coming hours.
Less conditional and more likely is a broken line or cluster of thunderstorms developing around midnight in the Concho Valley northward into the Big Country. That activity would quickly move northeast into North Texas. Additional thunderstorms would likely develop toward 4-6AM in North Texas and then quickly move northeast into Northeast Texas and portions of East Texas. Some of these storms will likely be severe.
The strongest activity would move east of Northeast Texas by 9-11AM. A thin line of showers and thunderstorms would continue near a slow-moving frontal boundary in the northern Brazos Valley into East Texas through the early afternoon hours. That line would have a lower threat of severe weather with some hail threat possible.
In summary for timing: The primary window for strong to severe storms will be from midnight to 11 AM as thunderstorms initially transition from the Concho Valley, Big Country, and Northwest Texas eastward through Northeast Texas and portions of East Texas. This will be a night-time event that continues into the morning. The threat of severe weather will decrease by lunch-time and thereafter as the upper-level dynamics move east of the state.
Dual severe weather and heavy rainfall threat next week
An active period of spring-like weather is expected from Monday through Wednesday across a large portion of Texas. We’ll deal with all that after we get through the severe weather threat tomorrow morning. However, we do note the Storm Prediction Center has already introduced a level two risk of severe weather for Tuesday.
That level two risk includes West Texas, Big Country, Concho Valley, Edwards Plateau, western North Texas, and the Hill Country. Consider this an early heads up that Tuesday could be a pretty active day in the storm department with damaging wind gusts in association with a fast-moving squall line. You can expect refinements and probable expansion of the risk areas as we get closer to Tuesday. We may have some threat for strong storms on Monday in West Texas, and potentially farther east by Wednesday morning.
This will be the most widespread rain event we’ve seen in Texas for several weeks, if not since the New Year began. Several inches of rain will be possible with the highest totals across the northeastern quarter of Texas. However, this would be a good soaking for the majority of Texas. This graphic does include some of the rains expected to fall tonight and on Saturday. We’ll deal with this next system once we rid ourselves of the one from tonight.
I encourage you to stay abreast of the latest forecasts as we head into early next week.