Daily Archives: March 8, 2020

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Watching Wednesday for thunderstorms. Could a few be strong?


The weather system that brings showers and storms to the area Monday night and Tuesday departs off to the northeast by Wednesday and sets us up under west to northwest flow aloft in the mid and upper levels.  The front at the surface never makes it through here by Wednesday, and that leaves us in a warm and humid air mass.  Another disturbance in the flow aloft moves out of the Ozarks toward the Tennessee Valley on Wednesday, and that will likely lead to another round of thunderstorms.  With very cold air aloft and the upper-level jet stream overhead, it’s starting to look more possible for conditions to come together for a few of these storms to possibly be strong or even severe Wednesday afternoon and evening.  There isn’t currently any outlooked risk area from the Storm Prediction Center, but we are noticing the ingredients consistently come together from run to run in the computer model data, and our local National Weather Service offices are taking notice and are mentioning it as well.

This doesn’t look like your classic severe weather outbreak setup or anything like that.  It looks more comparable to the clusters of storms we see move southeastward across the area during the late spring and summer months.  The potential for a few storms to produce wind gusts of 60+ mph and hail to quarters or larger will be the main threats.  The tornado threat in a setup like this usually is not the headliner.  The background wind profile isn’t all that strong.  However, any small scale boundaries that the storms may interact with or any internal mechanisms that may develop within the line of storms could change what the wind profile looks like, and we have absolutely no way of knowing that right now.  As of right now, this looks more like a severe thunderstorm watch type of event than a tornado watch type of event, but we will have to watch things carefully for any changes.  This is our primary severe weather season in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee… and we just have to be on guard this time of year.

It’s not possible to give a small, solid timeline this far in advance, but the general window of opportunity for this risk to possibly materialize Wednesday would probably be from Noon to 10:00pm, with the mid afternoon through mid evening hours being the most likely time.  We will refine that timeline as we get closer.  This is NOT a guarantee of severe weather.  Setups like these are very fickle and are prone to changes, but it seems like our forecast data is starting to lock onto this potential, and it’s time to give you the early head’s up.  This is not looking like a major severe weather event, a tornado outbreak, a repeat of Nashville and Cookeville, or ANY of that.  It just looks like a day when a few storms may have some severe thunderstorm warnings with them for damaging winds and hail, and we can’t 100% rule out a tornado warning or two.

We will have updated information as the situation becomes more clear, and we will have live coverage on Wednesday if any watches or warnings are issued.