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Stormy Start to a Summer-like Pattern
Submitted by Tim Buckley on Mon, 10/25/2010 - 9:12am.
We've been focusing a lot lately on the see-saw match between Fall and Summer. Late last week Fall had the upper hand, now we're shifting back toward summer, and in a big way.
Starting off the workweek, we have a storm system on our doorstep. An upper-level disturbance is moving across the Southeast that we meteorologists call a "short-wave" trough. These troughs high in the atmosphere can cool the air aloft as well as generate an added measure of rising air throughout the air column. All these factors combine to generate greater instability and in this case, higher thunderstorm potential.
This map below shows the general air flow at about 18,000 ft. This is where you can see the short-wave in the flow. These waves actually affect the weather downstream of the trough axis. In this case, the Carolinas.
Not only do we have this short-wave trough passing through the Carolinas today, but we also have a good deal of heat and humidity to work with. Warm moist air is streaming northward ahead of this trough sending both the temperature and the dewpoint to summer-like levels. We're waking up to temps near 70 and dewpoints in the mid 60's. Something we'd typically see in August, not October.
In short, this setup has a lot of reasons why we expect at least a few strong, if not severe, storms by the time this afternoon rolls around. As is typically the case, how strong these thunderstorms are may well depend on just how much sunshine we see this morning and early afternoon. The more sun, the more unstable the atmosphere will be, and the better chance we have at seeing some big booming t-storms this afternoon and evening.
On Sunday, this system put down some impressive severe weather across the Deep South. Looking at this map of storm reports from the Storm Prediction Center you can see the counts of Wind and Hail reports in the dozens across Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Our main threat from these thunderstorms this evening will be damaging winds and potential for large hail. Even if the storms do not reach severe criteria, they could still be damaging.
Even after this disturbance pushes through overnight, we'll still be left with down right summer-like weather. Flow will remain out of the south-southwest which will pump in loads of heat and humidity into the Southeast making it feel like late August. Expect highs in the mid 80's, and most notably - dewpoints in the high 60's to near 70.
The end game to this blast of summer lies well off to the west. A cold front in the Dakotas this morning will take it's time to get itself organized and march across the country. By Friday -- it will feel like fall again with cool air and low humidity.
Enjoy the weather roller coaster ride. It may get a little bumpy today!
By: Tim Buckley