A local update for today’s severe weather potential

Scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected today (Thursday) with a weak frontal system. Already this morning there is a much more humid airmass in place with dew points locally in the mid to upper 60s. The potential for any severe weather locally will depend greatly on how much sunshine we can muster this morning and early this afternoon.

There is not much change in general thinking for today. Scattered showers and storms will likely fire this afternoon as temperatures warm to the mid-80s. Some thunderstorms across the region could become strong to severe. Damaging straight-line winds are the primary concern, but there is also the potential for hail in the strongest storms. There is also a low potential for isolated tornadoes today.

NWSSPC TORNADO THREAT ASSESSMENT for today - Thursday, 7/16/2020

The Storm Prediction Center (part of the National Weather Service) maintains a Slight Risk (Level 2 on a scale of 1 – 5) for severe thunderstorms in east-central Ohio.

The best time for a strong/severe storm here in the Valley will be from around 1:00 PM to around 5:00 PM, according to the latest model guidance. That’s not to say there can’t be any storms locally at other times throughout the day, but this seems to be the ‘prime’ time for a severe storm to develop in our area.

HAZARDS
Strong wind gusts are the primary threat with today’s storms but hail and even an isolated tornado are also possible with any of these storms today. The threat for a tornado locally is low (2%), but that’s twice as high of a threat than we see on a normal day.

While any storm can produce heavy rainfall, these should move along quickly enough to reduce the threat for localized flash flooding.

NWS Pittsburgh has stated that they will launch a special weather balloon and sounder package before noon to sample the atmosphere ahead of this afternoon’s storms. (It’s considered ‘special’ because they normally only launch balloons at 7 am and 7 pm each day.) I’ll put together an update later IF the new data support any significant changes.

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