Update - Tracking the storm threat, with better days ahead

Today is the day: Our heat wave breaks later this evening after 11 long days. The only problem is that the road from A to B can be a stormy one.

Updates Below (most recent 4:30pm)

Happy Sunday everyone!

Right off the bat, I should comment on this incredible heat-wave we've been experiencing. Yesterday's high temperature in Huntington reached 104-degrees, shattering the previous record from our last long-term heat wave (in 1988) by 5! Charleston also tied a record high at 100. This really has been something. A good thing to file away in the back of your mind is that these heat waves don't break gently, so we will be on our toes this afternoon just in case.

However, today's weather map features a seemingly innocuous set-up. There's a rather weak cold front sagging through the area, time with the afternoon heating of the day. Here's what it looks like at HPC:

HPC - Sunday PM

Nothing extraordinarily alarming-- which can make you wonder if anything will pop today. However, it seems everyone is baking into the cake a healthy respect for what typically happens when heat waves of this magnitude finally break.

The Storm Prediction Center has our area under a 'slight risk' for severe weather today. Here's a breakdown of the threat:

SPC - Hail Threat SPC - Wind Threat SPC - Tornado Threat

 The most recent SPC imagery shifts the axis of greatest threat just to our east, but this doesn't mean we are in the clear. Here are a few model products I want to discuss:

NAM - Available Storm Energy - Sunday Afternoon NAM - Wind Shear - Sunday Afternoon

The left-hand map indicates the amount of available storm energy in place IF a storm were to kick up. This reflects the strong bouyancy in place because of the heat at the surface built up over the past severeal days. Just like a hot-air balloon can lift quickly through the sky if the air inside the balloon is hotter than the air around it, so too can air parcels bubbling upward from the surface today. The good news is that the area of best wind shear is displaced far to the north of this storm set-up (the right-hand map). As we've discussed before, what 'shear' represents is the increase of wind speed with altitude. The stronger the winds are aloft relative to the surface, the more spinning that occurs as a result-- think of it like shoving an oar quickly through a lazy river. You will almost always get some spinning eddies of water to form in the wake of the oar even though you never intended it to happen. The end results is that we will NOT be worried about tornadoes today.

Moreover, the threat for damaging winds will not be widespread. Rather, it will be confined to localized storm-level interactions with the environment. This means that individual thunderstorms may very well cause gusty winds, downpours, small hail, and the like-- but it will be a clustery kind of thing rather than a crashing wave like we saw on Friday night. Adjusting this for a healthy respect for the heat in place would mean that we are anticipating such events this afternoon or evening on a case-by-case basis, so please check back often to see the maps updating below that will show where the storms are at, and any warnings that may arise. Also consider following me on Twitter @WSAZBrandon. I will have any and all National Weather Service warnings and statements posted there.

...And then the heat wave breaks

Our cold front that slides through this evening and overnight will finally do the trick to break our heat-wave for the history books. Temperatures will be closer to 'normal' in the days ahead, but it's important to also talk about what happens next. In particular, here's what the GFS is pushing:

GFS - Monday PM GFS - Tuesday PM

Connecting all the dots of the heavier rains on this imagery shows our front actually stalling out in the southernmost 1/3rd of our area. This allows all sorts of impulses to ride along it from west to east, bringing numerous opportunities for showers and storms. This could be considered a drought-buster of sorts. Here's what HPC is advertizing for rainfall projections this week:

HPC - Projected 5-Day Rainfall - Through Friday

Depending on your favoring of rainfall, this map can be read a couple different ways. For me, I'll take some rain, but since I'm not a farmer if I can sneak in a little sunshine instead to go along with the cooler weather I'll be happy too :-)

Here's what the numbers are looking like next week (per GFS):

GFS - Max Temps - Monday GFS - Max Temps - Tuesday GFS - Max Temps - Wednesday

Our normal temperature these days is around 86, so that's not too bad. I just wonder if it will feel cooler out there-- it is 15-20 degrees cooler than what we've had after all. :-)

Check back often to view the maps below, and I'll be posting updates as necessary and as time permits.

Update (4:30pm) - Sorry for the late posting, but I've taken two power hits today-- not very kind to my internet. Fortunately the power companies still have a lot of people in town to be able to help. As expected, strong/severe storms have now spotted up and are waltzing around through the area. High temperatures hit 100-degrees in Huntington and the upper 90s in Charleston before the boomers arrived (which is a good thing, because we would have had 2-3 more hours of heating otherwise).

Anyway, the storms so far have arrived with about 30-mph gusts, heavy rain, frequent lightning, and small hail. Obviously we've also had some power hits with them as well. Overall, it's an easier situation than what we saw on Friday, but still a nuisance in its own right. Hopefully we can get some of these monsoon-like rains to come without a spot flooding issue-- because we certainly need it.

Folks south of I-64 are going to gradually encounter these storms in the coming hours. The storms are moving to the east as the front itself is sliding slowly to the south-- much like how a saw cuts wood. Don't expect the storms to get weaker as we go on; everybody is going to get a turn. Check back often and monitor the maps below for a look at the current progress of these storms through the region. For those that don't like these storms, remember they are necessary if we're going to change 100-degree heat into something more in the mid-80s.

Regional Radar/Satellite with Warnings Tracking

Accuweather Radar

From the Storm Prediction Center (below): Click For a Larger Image

Activity Overview Storm Outlook Watches Potential Watches Storm Reports
Temperatures HD Doppler Radar Estimated Rainfall Active Warnings
Current Temperatures HD Doppler Radar Estimated Rainfall Active NWS Warnings
Click For Larger Click For Interactive Radar Click For Larger Click For Larger

Have a great day everyone!


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