Thursday, February 20 Forecast Discussion

A squall line is already organizing back to our west as a cold front continues to come barreling in our direction. Severe Thunderstorm Watches are up for our west and a Tornado Watch is up to our north. We will see storms arriving later this evening, and the storm mode is something that has been changing through the day.

An upper level trough will be passing over top of us this evening after sunset. As it does, it will provide added lift for storms to continue as they march across the viewing area. The sunshine we are seeing today is only adding heat to the atmosphere that may allow these storms to become stronger, and perhaps even allow for storms to be discrete and supercellular in nature. The atmosphere is primed, the question is do we tap into all of it?

Storm Type
As we have been advertising all week, a squall line is the main feature we are watching and it is already developing. Now, the main question is does the squall line hold together completely or do we see it break apart and a second line form over portions of the viewing area? Models have been trending towards the second option, and I am buying into that as well since we are getting so warm and unstable. What this means is that the main squall line out there now may fall apart as it moves towards us and discrete storms develop ahead of the line and then consolidate into a second squall line. If this happens, these storms that are discrete will have the potential to produce tornadoes. Our tornado threat has actually been increasing through the day, although still not high, it is not as low as previous thoughts and thus bears added monitoring.

Timing looks to remain on par for after sunset. The squall line should arrive in our western counties around 9pm and then exit our West Alabama counties by 2am. If we get discrete storms to develop ahead of the line, those could begin firing around 9 and 10pm.

Damaging winds over 70mph is still our main threat tonight, although some hail could develop in stronger storms. We also are continuing to monitor the threat for tornadoes.

What to Do
Now is the time to prepare. We are not currently under a watch, but we will go under one later today. Make sure you have a functioning NOAA Weather Radio. You can get those at either Cowboy Maloney's or Walgreen's. Also, make sure you can get alerts from us from and also from our Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also download the WTOK weather app for your Android and Apple devices. We will keep you updated on all of our platforms through the night.

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