A storm system is beginning to develop over northern Texas, southeast Colorado and southwest Kansas. The surface low pressure should continue to deepen through the course of the day.
A warm front extends out from the surface low. The warm front should lift north across the KFVS viewing area through the morning and early afternoon. South of the front temperatures are currently sitting in the 60's and dew points are in the 60's. Dew points in the 60's for this time of year will give plenty of moisture to fuel thunderstorms later today.
The Storm Prediction Center has the KFVS viewing area in a Moderate Risk and Slight Risk for severe weather in their latest Day 1 Outlook. The outlook covers the time period from now until 6am Monday.
Often times I will talk about the "main threat" from the storms. Tonight's main threat will be damaging wind, large hail and strong tornadoes.
Now that we are within the Day 1 time period we can look at probability forecasts for specific weather.
Here is a look at the SPC's tornado probability forecast.
The bullseye is right over southeast Missouri, western Kentucky, northwest Tennessee, extreme southern Illinois and northeast Arkansas. A 15% probability for the tornado product is pretty significant. Also note the blue hatched area. That is where the SPC thinks there could be a strong tornado of at least EF2 strength.
Here is a look at the SPC's damaging wind probability forecast.
The window of opportunity is rather wide. We could see individual thunderstorms as early as this afternoon along the warm front or even south of the warm front. Some of these storms could contain large hail and develop tornadoes. It will not take long for some of the storms to develop in to strong or severe storms.
I am still looking for the "main event" to happen later tonight and continue through the overnight hours. Generally speaking I am looking at the time from roughly 9pm Sunday through 9am Monday.
The one thing I, along with others in the weather community, am concerned about is the timing of the main event. It will move through during the overnight when most are sleeping. A study conducted by Northern Illinois University shows that tornadoes that occur during the overnight period (midnight to sunrise) are 2.5 times as likely to kill as those occurring during the daytime.
The findings along with local/regional research by the NWS concluded:
- The public is less likely to receive warnings issued at night.
- The public is more likely to be in more vulnerable housing and building structures at night.
- Mobile homes are the leading location for tornado fatalities.
- Tornado fatalities are enhanced during the late fall and winter.
- Our region (southeast Missouri, southern Illinois, western Kentucky, southwest Indiana) has among the highest percentage of nighttime tornadoes and nighttime tornado fatalities of anywhere in the U.S.
- 34 of the 38 (89.5%) tornado deaths since 1996 have occurred at night.
- 29 of the 38 (76.3%) occurred between midnight and sunrise.
- 30 of the 38 (78.9%) tornado deaths were in mobile homes (2 in permanent homes).
Should you be freaking out about tonight? Absolutely not. Should you be aware? Absolutely! Have a way to be alerted to warnings tonight. Turn on your NOAA Weather Radio. Leave a tv on and have someone keep and eye on the weather. Take a few minutes to think about what you should do if a Tornado Warning is issued at 2am. Where do you go? Once you have this figured out, go over it with the rest of the family. Talk to your kids. Make a game of it. Have them practice it this afternoon. If they go over it once or twice, hopefully they won't be as scared if they have to do it later tonight or later this spring.
On a side note, I can remember as a child going to the basement at all different times of the day/night for tornado warnings. My parents were very good about it. They kept level headed, didn't panic and in return it didn't cause my brother or I to panic. We headed to our different spots in the basement and turned on the tv and radio.
Again, I am not trying to scare you. Information can be valuable if you use it with a level head. The storms overnight will be moving at a fast pace. You may only have a couple of minutes of warning before the storm is on top of you.