An early-season severe weather event may occur this afternoon across parts of the region, and I want to take just a moment and discuss this potential.
This morning, I posted my severe storm outlook on the Facebook page, which you will see in the first image shown above. Furthermore, I stated I was not overly concerned for tornadoes, and was mostly concerned for the potential for hail and high winds. While those concerns still exist, my concern over a few tornadoes has increased a bit from this morning.
Utilizing the 17z HRRR model to demonstrate my thoughts, you will see that by 5pm this evening, storms will likely have formed in a broken line across central parts of the region, or near the western periphery of the slight risk area. In the third image, you will see the 0-3 km helicity values at the same time as the simulated radar image. This is an indication of how much “twist” there is available to storm cells, and generally speaking, values above 100 signify a heightened risk of tornadoes. As you can see, helicity values are well in excess of 100, so an increased risk of tornadoes would appear likely. Furthermore, the level of instability present would also point to the potential for strong to severe thunderstorm activity as well. The final two images are the dew point and air temperatures, which is going to show that these storms are forming along a dryline more than a cold front, as the cold air lags well behind the storms. It is important to note, we are seeing dew point temps more typical of May than early-March this afternoon, signifying these storms may not your “average” March storms.
The bottom line here is that I do believe we will see at least scattered severe storms this afternoon and evening, especially for those in the slight risk areas. I do have some concern with how the storms well south of here will play into the mix. But, from this distance, it certainly appears that some severe thunderstorm activity may occur later today across parts of the region. Let me stress this, I do NOT anticipate an outbreak of severe weather, but the potential certainly exists for at least scattered severe weather today. On another note, should we see tornado(es) touchdown today, it will be the earliest tornado touchdown(s) recorded in Minnesota history. Stay tuned to the Facebook page later today for more updates!