Blizzards, Severe Weather, Tornadoes Oh My!

Blizzards, Severe Weather, Tornadoes Oh My!

Lauren Forney

While a Winter Storm/ Blizzard dumps heavy snow along the Colorado Front Range and the Plains into the Midwest, a severe weather threat and chance of tornadoes exists tomorrow in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

SPC has issued an ‘Enhanced Risk’ of Severe Weather for 2/2/2016. Basehunter’s Scott Peake and Kevin Rolfs are chasing tomorrow in Mississippi. Currently there are still blizzard warnings out for parts of Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa. The low pressure system is deepening and aligning with the upper level low- increasing the snowfall rates and severe threat for tomorrow.

blizzard conditions Omaha
NWS Omaha’s graphic showing the blizzard warning and snow totals
severe weather SPC enhanced risk
SPC Enhanced Risk of severe weather fpr 2/2/2016

Here’s an analysis of tomorrow’s severe threat:

Current Surface Analysis shows the low in Southeastern Colorado:

surface analysis
Current surface analysis from UCAR Rap

Here’s a more detailed analysis from http://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/ showing the low pressure in Colorado as well as the severe weather setup for current storms ongoing in Oklahoma north of the warm front (there have been severe thunderstorm warnings tonight in SW OK).

current surface map detailed
Detailed surface map from NCEP
SPC Mesoanalysis
SPC Mesoanalysis shows snow in CO and the Plains as well as the severe storms in OK

Tomorrow, the low is forecasted to progress eastward. In the warm sector, conditions are such with the upper level low and ample moisture being drawn in from the Gulf of Mexico, for a potentially interesting severe weather event.

300mb winds from UCAR Rap
300mb winds from UCAR Rap
500mb winds
500mb winds UCAR Rap
850mb winds
850mb winds

Here’s what the 00z NAM says for the forecasted position of the surface low tomorrow at 21z (3pm Central/4pm Eastern):
Nam Surface

The NAM is also putting out decent values of SBCAPE (especially for the Southeast!) at aprox. 1250j/KG

NAM CAPE
NAM forecast for SBCAPE

00Z Forecast soundings from the HRRR at 11am CDT tomorrow show a very interesting thermodynamic profile and hodograph favorable for tornadoes in Mississippi.

forecast sounding
HRRR forecast sounding from Mississippi showing ‘PDS Tornado’ as the possible hazard type.

Here’s the current SPC Mesoanalysis depiction of shear in the warm sector:

SPC Mesoanalysis
SPC Mesoanalysis showing strong shear in and around the warm sector.

The NAM at 21Z (3pm Central/ 4pm ) has plenty of Bulk Shear as well (this is very likely given the current upper level winds).

Bulk Shear
NAM Bulk Shear

Oh and did I mention, there’s ample dewpoints in the warm sector?:

UCAR Rap dew points
ucar Rap

The Southeast is no stranger to tornadoes in winter. Large hail and damaging winds are also a hazard tomorrow.

Will there “continue” to be this much CAPE in subsequent model runs? Ample shear under the right conditions can produce monster tornadoes. Scott Peake’s capture of the February 10th, 2013 Hattiesburg, MS EF4 Tornado is a testament to that:

– Lauren Forney
WAS*IS (Weather and Society Integrated Studies), VORTEX 2
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