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Might not feel like fall - but it's already showing itself on the weather map

While we continue to feel mid-summer weather here on the first day of Fall, it's hard to believe in the season change. But we only need to look west to see that the season is here.

One of the things that defines the transition season of Spring and Fall are what I like to call "battlegrounds". On a weather map, you'll find these battlegrounds where big changes are happening over small areas. During Spring and Fall, at almost any point, you can usually find two air masses - one cold, one warm - that are bumped up against each other. This is where you'll find your 'interesting' weather.

After a long period of a typical summer weather pattern with very few large-scale weather systems, we're seeing the signs of fall today across the Midwest. Check out the map below from mid-morning Thursday:

Your battleground today can be found right along the warm front that stretches from the Front Range of the Rockies all the way through the western Great Lakes. This is where we have warm, tropical air surging northward from the Gulf of Mexico ramming into cold Canadian air streaming southward. These are the perfect ingredients for severe weather and one of the reasons why fall is often referred to as the "second season" of severe weather.

This map from the Storm Prediction Center outlines in green, the area with the highest risk of seeing big storms today. Not surprisingly, they've outlined the same area we highlighted in front of the cold front and south of the warm front. The fact that this area is labeled with a 'slight risk' of severe weather can be deceiving. What the slight risk is actually referring to is your chance of being hit by severe-criteria weather at your exact point. The chance of seeing severe storms within this bubble is almost a sure thing.

The fact that we're starting to see air masses collide is definitely a sign of the season change. Over the summer, most of the country is warm, and the jet stream is north in Canada. This gives us a tranquil weather pattern dominated by small scale weather features like 'pop-up thunderstorms' and sea-breeze boundaries. These can be tough to forecast. In the spring and fall, it's warm fronts and cold fronts that drive the weather - which can actually be easier to deal with when you're trying to pinpoint the weather for a specific time and place. 

Of course, in our area we'd like to see some showers and storms like those to help cut down our drought conditions across the area. We're still sitting at only about 0.20" of rain for the month of September, but relief may be in sight. It looks like we get some of the moisture from these fronts in here beginning on Sunday and lasting through the early work-week as the front stalls out across the area. Good news for your grass.

That's all for now. Tomorrow may be an evening update, as I'll be filling in for Jerry on the late shows.

- TB


By: Tim Buckley


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