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    Frank Strait

    A Few Rough Days In the Southern Plains

    5/18/2013, 1:42:47 PM

    I had a nice trip back home this past week, but now I'm back in the frozen wasteland. Actually, I shouldn't complain too much since it's getting to be the time of year that the weather isn't too bad around these here parts. I wish I had more time to tweet or post on Facebook about what was going on but the schedule turned out to be pretty tight and it was a solo trip ... no tweeting while driving, of course! I forgot to get my nice shirts and ties back from the cleaner. (My wife, not because she irons shirts for me all day long but because she's one of the managers at the dry cleaner!) That means text-only this weekend unless I can dig up something suitable out of the reserves at home.

    We have already had a couple of bad severe weather days out in Texas and Oklahoma while I was away, but it looks as though we are going to see 2-3 more in a row here starting with tonight. A storm now over the Rockies will only slowly drift east over the next couple of days. The air mass out ahead of this storm is very warm to hot and pretty juicy, too. Those, of course, are the two main ingredients to cause bad thunderstorms to blow up and we're already seeing that going this afternoon. Tornado watches are already out this afternoon in West Texas and western Oklahoma (and points well north) and we'll see more watches farther east tonight. The atmosphere certainly is primed with temperatures well into the 80s and 90s with dewpoints even into the 70s. This time, there's no cold air in sight to undercut the warm air and limit the severe threat as we have seen so many times so far this year. So, the storms out there will get pretty dangerous tonight. As I'm writing this, a report of baseball-sized hail just came out of Friendship, Oklahoma (that's close to Altus).

    We're going to see more severe weather the next couple of days west of the Mississippi as this slow moving storm drifts east and a cool front pushes southward in its wake. Already I see the SPC folks have a moderate risk area out for a lot of Kansas and Oklahoma and conditions look similar in those areas tomorrow to what we have today. So, we could see some bone-crushing sort of storms in this area; lots of shear will be present and that means possible tornadoes. Storms could get into Arkansas and Missouri tomorrow night before falling apart. Tomorrow might be the worst day for severe weather out there, but another round of potent storms look likely for Monday as well. On Tuesday, the threat should start shifting eastward, but slowly ... into the Arklatex that day, the middle Mississippi Valley for Wednesday. However, the severe concern should lessen as this weather system drifts eastward.

    Currently, there's a gap between this action and some spotty, mostly less intense thunderstorms farther east from Virginia to Florida. The disturbance causing that stuff is embedded in an area where and upper ridge is trying to build over the Southeast, but that little critter will be floating around and causing more storms for the next couple of days, especially over the Carolinas and Virginia, but parts of Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky will get in on the act, too. I don't expect to see much severe weather, but there probably will be a few damaging storms in the area each day. The greater concern is that storms could be slow-moving and cause prolonged downpours. While the weather was fantastic while I was down there this week, before that it was pretty wet for weeks over a lot of that area, so flooding may become a concern. For example, Lake Lure was pretty much full; so was Lake Norman and I it was the first time I haven't seen a lot of exposed red clay on the banks of Lake Norman in a long time.

    Once this system moves out after Monday, most places should get a summery day or two with only stray afternoon thunderstorms before the storm system farther west arrives. A lot of places in the Southeast that haven't seen any real heat (by that I mean 90s) and humidity yet will get that for a day or two this week.

    Lastly, I'm still watching out for a possible early season or preseason tropical development coming out of the western Caribbean. The GFS again shows something coming out of the tropics before the end of the month, but that probably is still too fast. There's no sign of it on the Euro but the Euro only goes out 10 days. It still looks like the weather pattern will become favorable for a Caribbean development in about 2 weeks, so the GFS may be seeing what can happen, but the devil is always in the details. Certainly, the water in the western Caribbean is pretty warm already, so the pieces to the puzzle are all going to be there on the table, the question is whether or not we can put them together and how quickly we do so. I don't see any real tropical wave out that is the one feature to watch at this point and what probably happens is that a few weak critters come together down there and enough energy piles up together to make a storm.

    Yes, I saw the East Pacific season got a running start with Alvin this week, but Alvin was a little ahead of his time. If he comes back to life, he'll stay weak. However, another development out there in the East Pacific, even two over the next couple of weeks, would not surprise me.

    The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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