Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"A wild wind blowing..."
- Lyrics by Cold Play

11:25 AM EST 2/28/12 (Southeast Forecaster Kelton Halbert*) 
Severe Thunderstorms are expected early Wednesday afternoon and into the evening as a cold front approaches the Southeast from the West. Current indicators are that surface and winds slightly above the surface do not look to be conductive for strong wind shear. Therefore, the tornado risk is currently not as high as in previous events so far this year.

OVERVIEW This event should produce mainly squall lines through the day Wednesday in the Southeast, possibly extending into the southern Ohio Valley. The anticipated hazards and timing from this system:
  • Damaging straight-line winds are the main threat, with some hail possible. Tornadoes are also possible.
  • This system may impact the Southeast early to mid afternoon, starting in Tennessee first early in the afternoon. It will then progress into Mississippi and Alabama, then into the Carolinas in the overnight hours. 

ANALYSIS Right now, weather models and forecasters are in good agreement about the timing of this event. However, the amount of heat and daylight hours will dictate just how severe things get. If the event delays, we could see the risk area shift to the West. If it happens too fast, the risk area would shift to the East. Timing is critical with this one!

Dewpoints are expected to reach the high 50s low 60s before the frontal boundary moves through, giving plenty of fuel for severe storms. This is evidenced on the current NOAA water vapor as shown above. Wind speeds at the surface will also be high, in the range of 20-25 knots with gusts higher. Strong winds aloft will mix down to the surface, aiding in removing any capping layers as well as aiding in bringing moist air from the gulf.

Once this clears out, there is another rumor of severe weather on Friday, and we will keep you posted! As you can see, there'll be a "wild wind blowing."

(*Forecaster Kelton is a high school junior in Nashville, Tennessee, and recently attended the 2012 meeting of the American Meteorological Society in New Orleans with our team. Kelton is a 2011 graduate of the NOAA- and NSF-funded Careers Camp program operated by the National Center for Atmospheric Science headquartered at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He attended the July 2011 camp program at Mississippi's Jackson State University and operates a technical analysis forecast website called "Tempest Chasing" )

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