Weather Discussion for 03/20/2017

Weather Discussion for 03/20/2017

Analysis: Upper-air charts show a stout ridge in place over the South-Central United States this morning, which should keep our weather dry for the next few days. At the surface, a weak surface low is noted near Wichita, KS, with a dryline extending southwest across western Oklahoma and into the Texas Panhandle. Temperatures are in the mid to upper 60s east of the dryline, with temperatures in the upper 40s to lower 50s behind the dryline. These cooler temperatures are likely due to drier air leading to cooler overnight lows last night, that continue to “recover” this morning. The entire state should warm well into the 80s with some 90s likely.

South-Central United States surface analysis valid 1200Z March 20, 2017 (image source: NOAA/NWS/WPC).

Forecast: For today, the main story will be critical fire conditions across Northwest Texas. Temperatures in the lower 90s will result in relative humidity falling to less than 25% across these areas. These warm and dry conditions, combined with southerly winds of 15-20 MPH will mean any wildfires that start could spread rapidly. Elsewhere, warm and dry conditions are forecast for today. Tomorrow, a weak shortwave trough will pass through the Southern Plains. Right now, it appears that despite strong instability and moderate wind shear, the cap will be too strong for any convective development.

As we get into late week, things look to get a bit interesting. The GFS and ECMWF have been advertising a potent upper-level trough digging into the Great Plains for several days. Both models are in good agreement with the timing of this trough. Furthermore, the GFS Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) members are in strong agreement. The bottomline is, confidence is fairly high that a strong trough will dig into our part of the country late this week. On Thursday, the best ingredients for severe weather appear to be over the Permian Basin and into the Southern Texas Panhandle. CAPE is not particularly impressive, but could still end up being around 1,000 J/kg. Shear will be strong, and despite a strong cap, the upper-level forcing should be strong enough by late Thursday afternoon to allow for some limited development west of a Lubbock to Midland line. Overnight Thursday night into Friday, this trough will dig into Texas, leading to widespread rain and thunderstorm development across Northern and Central Texas. Instability will be weak during the overnight hours, limiting the severe potential.

GEFS 500 mb “spaghetti” plot valid Friday 00Z (Thursday 7 PM CDT). Image source: NOAA/NWS/NCEP.

Into Friday, showers and thunderstorms are expected to be ongoing across Northern and Central Texas. This precipitation will spread east into East Texas. SPC has highlighted a 15% severe weather outlook area across East Texas on Friday. Right now, the set up appears more likely to favor a linear mode of thunderstorms, meaning damaging wind gusts and heavy rainfall would be the main hazards, with 1-2 inches of rain likely across Northeast Texas on Friday.

SPC Day 5 Outlook valid Friday, March 24.

By next weekend, quieter weather is expected as ridging builds in over the South-Central U.S. once again, which will be great for my planned camping trip to Possum Kingdom Lake! Sunday and into next week, an active pattern looks to continue, but let’s get through Thursday/Friday before focusing too much on the details for next week.

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