It's the peak of severe weather season here in west Texas and we're now in the pattern of seeing outlooks on the news every day talking about the different risks. I try to avoid showing these on tv, just because they are confusing to the public. I will show them only when I think it is necessary and when we have a very good shot at seeing severe storms. Well, the image above is the outlook for today. Usually I don't get excited about a marginal risk for severe storms. That is the darker green in the photo above. A marginal risk usually doesn't give us severe storms. However, the clouds are clearing across the central and southern counties. A lot of people think sun is a good thing on potential severe storm days. Well, it isn't. Sunshine heats the surface, which causes rising air. That rising air helps to increase instability. Instability is a prime ingredient for severe thunderstorms.
There are other ingredients needed, but instability is certainly a prime ingredient for these storms. Just keep a heads up if you live in the darker green counties this afternoon and evening. The timing is similar to Monday's; which is 5:00-9:00 pm. A smaller line of storms is expected to develop and move to the east, or east-southeast during that window. Hail to golf ball size and 60-70 mph wind gusts are possible with any storms that get going today. Coverage is looking to be 20%.
The photo above is the severe weather risk for Wednesday. You can obviously see that it is much more colorful than Tuesday's outlook. The thing to take away from this map is the orange counties have the highest risk to see severe storms on Wednesday afternoon and evening. That would include Cottle and King Counties. With that said, those in the yellow counties still need to pay attention to the weather Wednesday afternoon. The yellow counties is where the storms are forecast to begin. In the environment we're looking to have in place Wednesday, these storms will strengthen very quickly.
The orange areas have the best shot at seeing hail to tennis ball size, 70 mph wind and a few tornadoes. The yellow counties can still see hail to golf ball size, 60-70 mph wind gusts and a tornado, or two. This all depends on how far east the dry line makes it tomorrow. Areas to the east of the dry line will see these severe storms. It's looking like the dry line will be right around the Caprock escarpment Wednesday afternoon.
The above photo is the computer forecast for this evening. It is showing a smaller area of thunderstorms near Lubbock just after 7:00 pm. This is forecast to move to the southeast. This is not going to cover as much ground as the storms did Monday night, but they could still pack a punch. I doubt the northern fringe, near Plainview, will actually happen. It's a much lower probability in Hale County.
These storms will cause more flooding, will have gusty wind to 70 mph and the potential for golf ball size hail. The environment from Lubbock, west and south is seeing sunshine early this afternoon. There is also a good amount of moisture, with dew points in the mid 50s and low 60s. Once the dew point climbs over 60°, the air starts to get sticky. That increase in moisture is one thing that helps fuel severe storms. We have lift, instability, high dew points and a low-end unstable air mass. It's not as unstable as Monday, but this environment will still help to get these storms going this evening. The window for Tuesday's storms will be from 5:00-9:00 pm.