Swath of Severe Storms Likely In Central Plains

The atmosphere above the CONUS this afternoon is a mess of midlevel jet dynamics, as an expansive midlevel low over eastern Canada interacts with a negatively tilted longwave diving into the western US.

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One notable response to the latter is a belt of high midlevel winds surging northeast into the central Plains, which is facilitating the removal of low-level mass from Texas to Kansas. The result is a deepening surface low there, and a broad zone of moderate to strong southerly flow.

As this flow continues today, it’ll advect north an increasingly moist airmass. While moisture will be weaker than typical for such a set-up, it’ll prove sufficient, alongside a steep EML, for conditional updraft development in a swath from Texas to Nebraska.

This conditional will revolve around a cap that will prove tough to break in the absence of significant lift or CIN degradation. Soundings from the southern half of this area, especially, show a steep, tough to break inversion above the surface.

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Now, above this hard-to-break cap will lie a good kinematic environment for tornadoes, with a long looping hodograph courtesy of high-end low level flow and brisk deep layer flow. Also note the fat, large CAPE, even with all that CIN biting down on it from below. This is a solid environment for convection… if it develops.

This means that fairly high-end storms have potential to evolve, but only where forcing and southerly advection is sufficient to degrade the cap. Enter the warm front, over northeast Kansas.

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Here, numerous storms should initiate in the mid-evening, once the cap-busting combination proves sufficient for updraft development. The environment sees moderate instability, high-end kinematics, and updraft initiation overlapping, which will prove favorable for a tornado or two before storms, blown parallel to their initiation by flow aloft, congeal into multicellular clusters or even a QLCS.

That’s what CAMs like the HRRR show- explosive initiation with the potential for some rotating updrafts, followed by a rapid coalescence into clusters capable of dropping large hail and producing fairly widespread wind damage into Missouri.

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To the east, over Colorado, some tornadoes could also occur with convection firing off the front range and interacting with minimal instability but impressive vorticity and favorable lapse rates.

Stay tuned!

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