Severe Weather Risk This Afternoon
It’s counter-intuitive, but the late morning-early afternoon sunshine has increased the risk of locally high winds and hail in thunderstorms. That’s one of the conundrums in weather; namely, what you perceive as fair weather, the trained eye of the meteorologist looks at differently.
What’s happening is the afternoon sun is heating the already humid tropical air in place. The sun also aids in the mixing process by dragging air in the heavens above down to the ground. This process is known appropriately known as downward transport. That’s why it has turned windy and hot this afternoon.
Trouble is at 5,000 feet the winds are blowing at close to 50 miles per hour and at the 20,000 foot level those winds increase to near 70 mph. That difference in wind speed is called shear and it is often responsible for developing severe thunderstorms when a front is close by.
And close by this afternoon is the same front that spawned a rash of tornadoes and high wind/hail storms this week on the Plains and in the Midwest.
Now it’s our turn, but more specifically it is the turn of Virginia and Delmarva to get in on the severe weather act.
Until 5PM much of the WSAZ.COM region was put under a tornado watch by the National Weather Service. This means conditions are favorable for thunderstorms to form, grow and turn severe. But the watch is over a several thousand square mile area that runs from the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers thru the Potomac and all the way to the Chesapeake Bay.
Somewhere in that region, a few twisters will form. But when and where are valid though hard questions to answer.
As I sit here at my PC at WSAZ at 12:30pm, I sense our region is too far west for the main action. Don’t get me wrong, strong storms are racing thru Roane, Gilmer, Calhoun and Braxton Counties even as I write this. But that storm line is east of I-79 by 1:30 and as it intensifies this afternoon, it will likely produce high winds, hail and even a twister in Virginia, Delaware and Maryland, not here in the WSAZ.COM-land.
So what do you do during a Tornado Watch? Go about your normal activities but keep the TV or radio on. Keep the kids playing close by. At the first sign of threatening weather, get the kids inside. As I stated last night, if you live in a mobile home, a WATCH is the time to head to a neighbor’s house until the risk has passed. In this case, I expect the watch to be cancelled for our region by 2 PM.