The forecast for a higher end severe weather event across our viewing area tonight is still on track. Yesterday's forecast discussion goes into pretty good detail, and that thinking is still valid today, so if you haven't gotten a chance, read that discussion too. Here is a link to yesterday's technical forecast discussion that you can copy and paste in your browser. It is also listed under "Headlines" under the "Weather" tab: http://www.wtok.com/weather/headlines/Monday-128-Forecast-Discussion-188745091.html
WHAT'S GOING ON THIS MORNING: This morning, the center of the low pressure system is stationed over the Oklahoma Panhandle. Storms are actually beginning to fire as I write this at 4:30 AM. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a Mesoscale Discussion (the first step towards issuing a Weather Watch) for Central Oklahoma concerning these storms, with a Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Watch possible for them over the next few hours. Needless to say, it is going to be a long day for meteorologists.
WHAT'S HAPPENING THROUGHOUT THE DAY: Around here, the weather won't be too bad today. We will see mostly cloudy to cloudy skies, with a high topping out in the mid to upper 70s for everyone. Dewpoints will be running in the 60s, so it will feel a little muggy out there as well. You will definitely notice the winds pick up ahead of this system, with sustained winds of 10-20 mph, with gusts reaching 30-35 mph as we go throughout the day today. It may be a good idea to anchor down anything outside you don't want flying away! As for our friends to the west, the storms firing up this morning should eventually form a squall line this afternoon over parts of East Texas reaching through Arkansas and Missouri. The highest threat for severe weather is over most of Arkansas, Northern Louisiana, and the Mississippi Delta, as the storms will reach these areas during (or shortly after) the time of day when the atmosphere is most unstable. Expect this line of thunderstorms to be rocking and rolling as it heads our way.
WHAT TO EXPECT: The line of thunderstorms should be in Arkansas and West Mississippi around 9:00 tonight. There is an enhanced tornado threat to our west, because that area could see cells form ahead of the squall line, and all the severe weather parameters (see yesterday's discussion) are in place for them to rotate. As the line moves East at a pretty good clip, we should begin seeing storms in the western parts of the Newscenter 11 Viewing Area around Midnight, or a little later. For us, the main threat is damaging straight line winds, with gusts over 70 mph. We could also see tornadoes in cells that form ahead of the line, as well as tornadoes from supercells embedded in the main line, so there is a mixed bag of threats with this system. The storms will be moving extremely fast, so while some of us could pick up a half inch to an inch of rain, widespread flooding is not anticipated. The squall line should clear our West Alabama counties by about 8:00 AM or so.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?: We've been through these kinds of things before, and we'll make it through this one. The number one thing you can do is to make sure you have a reliable way to get warnings during the night. This is especially important since most people will be asleep. A NOAA Weather Radio is a good choice, as well as many smartphone apps. Make sure your phone is charged and/or you have extra batteries for your weather radio. This system isn't anything to sit at home and worry about today or lose sleep over, just make sure you can get warnings and information in a timely manner. Brian and I will be here tonight watching and updating the web and cutting in on TV as needed.
Once this line forms later today, we will be better able to provide a more accurate timing forecast. But for now, just be ready for anything from the time you go to bed tonight until the time you usually wake up in the morning. The parameters for a significant severe event are there, now we just have to wait and see how it plays out. We'll keep you updated on the web and Newscenter 11 as we continue to get new information.