Wednesday update on severe weather potential Thursday evening

As temperatures climb into the lower and mid 80s this afternoon, southerly wind continues to push moist, unstable Gulf air across the area. This pattern will continue right through tomorrow, priming the pump ahead of a strong spring cold front that is expected Thursday evening.

Dry weather is expected through the overnight hours tonight before we start to see a small chance of showers Thursday morning. That chance of showers becomes a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon, but these will be scattered at best and likely not severe. By evening, we’ll be watching as storms over AR increase in intensity as a cold front moves across the state. The storms should merge and develop into a squall line just ahead of the cold front before arriving in the metro.

According to this morning’s GFS model, the cold front is nearly overhead at 1am Friday with a large area of thunderstorms accompanying it. Graphic courtesy WxBell Analytics.

The Storm Prediction Center has placed a huge area from the southern Great Lakes into the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys and the Southern Plains in an Enhanced risk (category 3 of 5) of severe weather with a 45% chance of severe weather within 25 miles of any given location.

Storm timing and impacts

While timing of storms is not certain, it appears the most likely impact from the line moving through will be between 9pm-2am Thursday night. The main hazards will be strong to damaging straight-line wind, small hail, lightning, and torrential rain that could cause some flash flooding. An isolated tornado could spin up in the squall line, but the chances are fairly low and typically these types of tornadoes are weak and short-lived. We can’t rule out the chance though.

Plan ahead

We encourage you to plan ahead, starting today, for the severe weather risk. Know where you will be, which can guide your planning. With a good chance of strong wind, secure outdoor objects that could take flight, plan to garage your vehicles if possible to protect from hail and wind-blown objects, and make sure your weather radios have fresh batteries. It’s also a good idea to set up StormWatch+ in your MemphisWeather.net mobile app so that you will receive severe weather watches and warnings instantly if and when they are issued by the NWS. A video on how to set that up can be found here. Additional safety tips can be found below.

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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