A summer pattern yields chances of strong storms Thursday

Summer is here! I’ve seen several references the past couple of days to “sweating as soon as I step outside” and “rain falling while the sun is shining.” Both are clearly indications that it is summer in the city! Here’s another good sign of the same:

Visible satellite imagery at mid-day Wednesday, described below. (SSEC/RealEarth – data is preliminary and non-operational) Click here if image does not loop.

Visible satellite loops this afternoon from our amazing new GOES-16 satellite, which produces a high-resolution picture every 5 minutes, clearly shows abundant moisture in place (evidenced by a widespread cumulus cloud field across the region) and small showers popping up seemingly at random (the brighter, more “agitated” clouds). It looks a lot like a tropical airmass. These small downpours have been popping up the past 3 days as temperatures have reached near or just above 90° each day. In fact, combined with increasing humidity, today is the first day this year that the heat index has reached 100° and it was also the warmest day of the year at 92°! Hopefully those of you working outside have been taking it easy, with frequent breaks and plenty of water.


The scenario changes a bit tomorrow as storms will upstream of the Mid-South start infringing on the northern periphery of the high pressure system dominating our area tonight. As they do, outflow boundaries from said storm systems work their way south and encounter our warm, moist airmass. I expect that by Thursday morning we’ll start seeing increasing thunderstorm chances. I currently have a 50/50 chance of storms in the Thursday forecast, including during the morning hours. Scattered storms could continue into the afternoon unless a more organized complex happens to move through during the morning, in which case it could scrub the instability from the atmosphere long enough to put a damper on afternoon storms. In any case, be prepared for more thunderstorms tomorrow than we have see previously this week.

The late afternoon run of the HRRR high-resolution model, showing “future radar” through 11am Thursday. It indicates the possibility of a few t’storms overnight (which I’m not sure will actually happen) and more organized chances by mid-morning. The HRRR can be a bit aggressive in its handling of precipitation, but gives us an idea of what to watch out for! (WxBell – click here if image does not loop)

Severe weather chances

As for severe weather, the Storm Prediction Center says we have a Slight Risk (category 2 of 5) of damaging wind in storms on Thursday. Any storms will also be capable of very heavy rain thanks to humidity thick enough to slice with a knife, and perhaps some small hail.

A Slight Risk (category 2/5) of severe weather is forecast Thursday by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC). 

The good news is that it appears that by Thursday evening most of the storm chances will have moved east and south of the metro, leaving humid but likely dry conditions in place for outdoor activities like Levitt Shell and the Memphis Redbirds.

This weekend

Heading into the weekend, I expect conditions not unlike what we’ve experienced to start the week. Hot and humid with a few afternoon and evening showers or thunderstorms. By Sunday evening, a “for real” cold front looks to make a run at us and move through overnight. This front will bring increased chances of rain and thunder late Sunday into early Monday, but then drier and less humid weather to start next week. Let’s hope!

As always, get the latest weather information for Memphis via our social media feeds and MWN Forecast, which you can find online and in our apps. Also in the apps, local radar and current conditions, as well as our Twitter feed for the most recent updates. Be sure to check it out!

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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