Tracking tricky air mass thunderstorms

Hot and humid air allows for storms to pop and any time and place, though there are a few clues for us as well.

Welcome to your Monday!

The showers and storms thus far have been true to form across the tri-state area... Scattered, cooling, and mainly non-severe. Not everyone has been able to catch one too in the past few days. We'll get more cracks at it this week.

NAM - Monday Afternoon

As we've discussed before on this blog, a lot of what we have here are what's called "air mass" thunderstorms. This means that there isn't a whole lot of action on the map in terms of fronts and jet streams pushing the weather along. This happens a lot in the summer and more rarely in the winter. The air becomes increasingly hot and humid if left un-tapped. Any triggers that come by set it off and we see storms pop. Not everyone gets hit in a given day, but over a multi-day stretch it is normal for everyone to have gotten a piece.

There are a few main triggers that we'll be tracking in the next few days. The first one is shown on the map above, but it's pretty easy to follow: The time of day. We often talk about the "prime heating hours" of the day. This is after lunch through about sunset. Any time the heating on the ground is the maximum, the air is presumably the least stable with cooler air aloft.

GFS - 500mb Chart - Tuesday Afternoon

Another thing we look for are blobs of "vorticity" or twisting in the earth's atmosphere. These are found on the above-surface atmospheric charts (at the 500mb level). I've highlighted these blobs with yellow "x" markers. As these things rotate through and ever-so-slightly bend the black lines that govern west-to-east steering currents, they can touch off storms as they approach. These "agitators" can set off or maintain showers and storms even at night. Most of this influence is heading to our north in the coming days, but there seems to be an even enough pacing to put one of those blobs near us each of the next several afternoons.

Another important set of footprints we use to track these storms involve the current convection on the map. I'll place the radar below, but any left-over / faded storm line from the night before represents a potential convection point for the next day. In addition, any storms or squalls that become organized during the day outside our area will obviously become something to keep an eye on because they are harder to kill off at sunset.

This tricky tracking process stays overhead through the workweek, with a front coming through closer to the weekend. This will make use of the remaining storm energy (hint: something to look at for a severe weather potential), but also cool us down nicely.

GFS - Max Temps - Saturday

I doubt too many folks out there would balk at the prospects of highs in the 70s this weekend. It's not a lock at this point, but we're close! :-)

Have a great day everyone!



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