May 15, 2022

Damaging Wind, Tornado Risk Targets East Coast States On Monday


A widespread threat for severe thunderstorms will cover much of the East Coast on Monday as a cold front plows into the heat and humidity that's parked over the region in recent days. The storms could bring damaging wind gusts, a few tornadoes, and some instances of large hail. Make sure you've got a way to receive warnings the moment they're issued.

A trough swinging over the Great Lakes will allow a low-pressure system to develop across eastern Ontario and southern Quebec during the day on Monday. A cold front extending off this budding low will set the stage for a broken line of thunderstorms to sweep across the eastern states.


There's enough instability and wind shear for these thunderstorms to turn severe. The Storm Prediction Center issued a wide-ranging risk for severe weather on Monday, covering everyone from southern Georgia to interior Maine.

The greatest risk for severe weather—an enhanced risk, or a three out of five on the scale—will stretch from central Virginia to northern New York, including the metro areas of Washington, Baltimore, Philly, Syracuse, and Albany. The severe risk extends west to the mountains and east to include the entire I-95 corridor from Savannah up to Portland.


For most folks, the risk for damaging wind gusts of 60+ mph will be the predominant threat. However, folks in and around the enhanced (orange) and slight (yellow) risk zones could see a few spin-up tornadoes along the leading edge of any squall lines that move through.

Keep an eye out for alerts and prepare to act quickly if your location goes under a tornado warning. Take a second to check your phone and make sure emergency alerts are activated for tornado warnings.


It's worth pointing out for our friends up north that the threat for damaging winds and a tornado or two will extend into portions of eastern Ontario and southern Quebec, as well. This risk includes the National Capital Region, Montreal, and the Eastern Townships on Sunday afternoon and evening.

Conditions will calm down behind the front. Folks in the northeast will see a couple of days of cooler-than-normal temperatures before the heat starts to build back in toward the end of the week. Folks south of the Mason-Dixon line are looking forward to daytime highs in the 90s beginning Wednesday and lasting into the weekend.

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May 7, 2022

Back To The 90s: Summerlike Heat To Build Across The Central U.S. This Week


Whew. The season's first solid burst of summerlike heat will build across the central United States this week. It's already pretty darn hot down in Texas on Saturday, where highs climbed into the triple-digits for western parts of the state. The heat will spread toward the Great Lakes as the week wears on.

Much of the weather across the United States this week will be dominated by an 'Omega Block,' a type of pattern that essentially creates a stagnant upper-level roadblock.

An Omega Block, earning its name from the resemblance to the Greek letter Omega Ω on weather maps, forms when a ridge of high pressure is bookended by two upper-level lows.

Meteorologists commonly describe these blocking patterns as "what you see is what you get," as conditions remain largely the same for days on end until the block wears off and things start moving again.

Source: Tropical Tidbits

The pattern we're stuck with this week will see calm and hot conditions build beneath the ridge parked in the center of the country, while both coasts deal with cool and dreary conditions courtesy of those stubborn upper-level lows.

In fact, the low off the southeast coast will retrograde and move back toward Florida this week, bringing the Sunshine State some showery weather, slightly lower humidity, and below-seasonal temperatures toward the middle and end of next week.

The big story, though, will be the hot weather building into the central U.S.

Temperatures already soared into the 100s for a large portion of Texas, where the National Weather Service issued widespread heat advisories to alert people to the potentially dangerous heat.

It's likely that these heat advisories will spread north toward the Midwest tomorrow and early this week as daytime highs soar into the 90s.

Here's an animation showing the National Weather Service's predicted highs between Saturday, May 7th, and Friday, May 13th. This .gif switches to the next map every two seconds before looping back at the end.


Highs in the 100s will push through much of northern and western Texas again on Sunday and Monday, with daytime temperatures in the mid- to upper-90s making their way into Oklahoma and Kansas.

We'll see upper 80s and low 90s creep toward the Midwest by the middle of the week, with a high of 89°F in Minneapolis by Thursday. This would be the city's warmest temperature since September 19, 2021.

As always, be mindful of the toll the heat can take. It's easy to overdo it without realizing you've overdone it until it's too late and you're feeling ill from heat exhaustion or worse. 

Meanwhile, you can see the influence of the meandering upper-level lows on each coast, with stubbornly cool temperatures bathing the coasts. It's especially pronounced across the east, where cold air damming will keep highs in the 50s into the Carolinas on Sunday, with the immediate shoreline from Cape Cod to the Outer Banks struggling to get out of the 60s until Thursday.

The good news with a pattern like this is that it minimizes the risk of widespread organized severe weather. We'll take any chance we can get to skip through a week in May without raucous severe storms raging somewhere.


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April 29, 2022

Significant Tornadoes, Damaging Winds Possible Friday On The Central Plains


We're looking at the potential for some dangerous severe thunderstorms across the central Plains on Friday, with storms sparking in the late afternoon hours and continuing after dark for many areas. The greatest threat for significant tornadoes, powerful wind gusts, and very large hail will cover portions of Kansas and Nebraska, including several major population centers.

A strong Colorado low ramping up across the middle of the country will set the stage for the powerful storms expected to form on the Plains later today.

It's a classic mid-spring setup—warm, humid air will provide plenty of fuel for thunderstorms to quickly grow severe, and there's enough wind shear to quickly organize the initial round of thunderstorms into supercells.


Friday's potential for severe weather is maximized near the center of the low, where the Storm Prediction Center issued a moderate risk for severe weather—a four out of five on the categorical scale measuring the threat and extent of severe storms.

The threat extends out from there to include areas under the enhanced risk, as well, which covers Omaha and Lincoln; Topeka, Wichita, and the Kansas City metro; and extending down toward Tulsa and Oklahoma City.


We'll see the greatest tornado threat occur with the initial thunderstorms, which could quickly organize into supercells.

The strongest supercells could produce significant, long-lived tornadoes, hail the size of golf balls or larger, and powerful wind gusts. The risk for significant tornadoes stretches from southeastern Nebraska to northern Oklahoma, including Lincoln, Topeka, and Wichita. 


As the evening wears on, and as we see so often with setups like this, the supercells will eventually begin to merge and storms will coalesce into one or more squall lines.

At this point, the predominant threats will transition to powerful wind gusts of 75+ mph and a threat for embedded tornadoes. Don't sleep on a damaging wind threat—straight-line winds can cause as much damage as a tornado across a wider area.

Storms will continue after sunset, especially for areas in the eastern half of the risk zones, including the Kansas City metro area.

Severe weather at night is especially dangerous because folks are tuned out and starting to go to bed, making it difficult to receive severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings in a timely manner.

Make sure you have a way to receive warnings the moment they're issued. Take a moment to check your phone and ensure that wireless emergency alerts are turned on for tornado warnings. These free push alerts are proven lifesavers and often alert you to a tornado warning for your location before any other app. 

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April 21, 2022

Dangerous Fire Weather Outbreak Likely In Colorado And New Mexico On Friday


Conditions will be ripe for extreme wildfire growth and behavior across parts of Colorado and New Mexico on Friday, capping off an already-bad week for wildfires across the Front Range and the desert southwest. High winds, blowing dust, and a risk for severe storms will make a bad situation even worse. Use extreme caution over the next few days and be ready to evacuate on a moment's notice if you fall under an order.

A low-pressure system will develop on the lee side of the Rockies early Friday morning and slowly begin to lift across the central and northern Plains through the day. Winds will pick up in a hurry as the low organizes and gathers strength, allowing temperatures to rise and humidity levels to plummet.


We're likely to see "extremely critical" fire weather conditions across a swath of Colorado and New Mexico, according to the Storm Prediction Center, which is the highest category on the agency's fire weather outlook. 

It won't take much to spark a wildfire that grows out of control. The combination of high winds, warm temperatures, and very dry air will work together with an ongoing drought to make conditions highly susceptible to the ignition and spread of even the tiniest fire. Much of the region under the threat for significant fire activity on Friday is going through a severe drought or worse.


Keep in mind all the typical tips: don't flick cigarettes on the ground, don't drive or park on tall grass, don't start any fires, and avoid any activity that can lead to embers or sparks.

If you live in an area prone to wildfires, it's a good idea to get all your emergency supplies and important items/documents in order in case you have to evacuate in a hurry. You could have little to no notice ahead of a fast-moving fire. Make sure you're ready to get up and go at a moment's notice if you're ordered to do so.


The hazards won't stop at the risk for wildfires. High wind warnings stretch from southern New Mexico to central Nebraska in advance of winds that will likely gust higher than 60 mph. These winds could lead to downed trees, power outages, and blowing around small debris.

High winds could also whip up dust storms across the region. Blowing dust is a serious safety issue, not only for folks with respiratory problems, but the sudden burst of near-zero visibility can lead to life-threatening highway pileups.

If you have to drive through the region, check to make sure your phone's emergency alerts are activated. The NWS sends out emergency alerts for dangerous dust storms just as they do for tornado warnings.


We also have to contend with a risk for severe weather heading into the weekend.

Strong thunderstorms are likely to develop along and ahead of the system's cold front as it pushes across the central and northern Plains. The wide-reaching risk for severe thunderstorms will stretch from western Texas to northern Minnesota, including Wichita, Omaha, Sioux Falls, and Minneapolis. 

 There's enough instability and wind shear present for any thunderstorms to turn severe and produce damaging winds, large hail, and even a few tornadoes. The threat for tornadoes is greatest along the Texas/Oklahoma Panhandles, western Kansas, and near the center of the low in western South Dakota. Some of the supercells on Friday could produce hail the size of golf balls or larger in western Texas, the Oklahoma Panhandle, and southwestern Kansas.

Given the slow forward motion of the low-pressure system as it pushes north into Canada, the threat for severe thunderstorms will only shift slightly east for the day on Saturday.


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April 12, 2022

Strong, Long-Lived Tornadoes Possible In The Midwest, South On Tuesday & Wednesday


An increasing threat for severe thunderstorms will target parts of the central and southern United States over the next couple of days. The Storm Prediction Center issued a moderate risk—a four out of five on the scale measuring the threat for severe thunderstorms—for a large chunk of Iowa on Tuesday and for much of the Lower Mississippi Valley on Wednesday.

Tuesday's Storm Risk

A dynamic storm system developing over the central United States will bring a huge variety of dangerous conditions from border to border this week, ranging from a serious blizzard in the Dakotas to an 'extremely critical' fire weather risk on the southern Plains.


Warm, unstable air surging north ahead of the low-pressure system will provide plenty of fuel for thunderstorms to bubble up across the middle of the country as we head into Tuesday evening. Strong wind shear throughout the atmosphere will allow these storms to turn severe in a hurry, bringing a risk for damaging winds, large hail, and tornadoes.

The most significant risk will follow near the center of the low-pressure system itself as it rolls across the Upper Mississippi Valley. Forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center issued a moderate risk for severe weather covering much of northern and western Iowa for the late afternoon and evening hours on Tuesday.


Things will unfold here in a hurry. Communities in and around the moderate and enhanced risk areas could see supercells that produce strong, long-lived tornadoes, hail the size of golf balls or larger, and wind gusts of 70+ mph. 

Storms will coalesce into squall line(s) as the evening progresses, at which point the predominant threat will switch over to widespread damaging wind gusts with the chance for embedded tornadoes.


This is especially dangerous because many of the severe storms will occur around and after sunset. Make sure you have a way to receive severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings if you're asleep or otherwise tuned out. Check your phone and ensure that emergency alerts are activated for tornado warnings. Always trust the warnings and never wait to see danger for yourself before you act.

Wednesday's Storm Risk

The threat for dangerous thunderstorms will shift east on Wednesday as the low gradually makes its way into the Great Lakes region. The greatest threat for severe thunderstorms will cover the Lower Mississippi Valley during the afternoon and evening hours.


Similar to Tuesday, communities in and around the moderate and enhanced risk areas could see strong, long-lived tornadoes, as well as a risk for damaging wind gusts of 70+ mph.


The threat for significant severe weather covers some high-density population centers, including Jackson, Mississippi; Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis and Nashville; St. Louis; and a wide swath of Illinois and Indiana.

A more diffuse risk for severe thunderstorms will head toward the eastern states by Thursday, with the risk for isolated damaging wind gusts in thunderstorms that form along the cold front as it pushes through the region. These strong wind gusts are possible in storms that form from the Florida Panhandle all the way up the coast to southeastern New England.

Beyond, we should get a much-needed break from organized severe weather until next week.

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April 10, 2022

Raucous Storm Set To Spawn Tornadoes, Fires, And A Blizzard This Week


A significant storm that'll develop over the center of the country this week will bring a wide range of hazardous weather along its path, ranging from a full-on blizzard across the northern Plains to a multi-day risk for severe weather across portions of the south. This is a good time to make sure you're prepared for severe weather, including the risk for tornadoes.

The Setup

A deep trough digging over the western United States will slide over the Rockies overnight Monday into Tuesday morning, spawning a feisty low-pressure system as it crests the mountains. The Colorado low will ramp up in a hurry through the day on Tuesday, bringing a wide-ranging threat for hazardous weather from the Gulf Coast to central Canada.

Heavy snow and ripping winds will lead to blizzard conditions on the northern Plains. Muggy air on the southern side of the low will lay the groundwork for several days of severe thunderstorms, including the risk for tornadoes. Dry, gusty winds behind the low will also lead to critical fire weather conditions for parts of the southwest and southern Plains for much of the week.

Severe Thunderstorms

Several days of severe thunderstorms are likely across the central and southern U.S. over the next couple of days. The most significant bouts of dangerous storms look likely to unfold on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tuesday


We'll likely see several batches of severe thunderstorms crop up on the Plains during the day on Tuesday. A cold front and a dryline will serve as the focus for most of the thunderstorms that form. Many of the storms will start off as discrete cells capable of producing tornadoes, damaging winds, and large hail. The storms will eventually coalesce into a large squall line, at which point the main threat will shift to damaging winds with some tornadoes.

Tuesday's storms will carry the risk for significant severe weather—including strong, long lived tornadoes; wind gusts of 70+ mph; and hail the size of golf balls or larger.

The risk for severe weather will continue into Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning for many of the communities at risk. Nighttime severe weather is especially dangerous because many folks are tuned out and it's difficult to see hazards coming your way when it's dark out.

Make sure you have a way to receive severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings if you're asleep or otherwise tuned out. Check your phone and ensure that emergency alerts are activated for tornado warnings. Always trust the warnings and never wait to see danger for yourself before you act.

Wednesday

We'll see the risk for severe thunderstorms shift east for the day on Wednesday, with portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley and the Deep South seeing the greatest threat for severe thunderstorms.


Since this is four days out, it's too far for the Storm Prediction Center to use its categorical scale. Wednesday's forecast instead uses probabilities. A 30% probability for severe weather four days out is pretty hefty, and folks in and around the risk areas should take note and start preparing now for all modes of severe weather.

Flooding Risk

Severe thunderstorms aren't the only hazard we'll see this week. Heavy showers and thunderstorms rolling over the same areas for several days on end will lead to a risk for flash flooding, especially across portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley and the Deep South. The risk for flooding will coincide with the risk for severe weather on Tuesday and Wednesday.


The Weather Prediction Center calls for several inches of rain across the hardest-hit areas. Too much rain falling all at once could easily overwhelm local waterways and drainage systems, leading to flooding in vulnerable areas. Keep a close eye for flash flood warnings and plan alternate ways to get around if you have to go out during or after the storms.

Heavy Snow/Blizzard Conditions

The storms and heavy rain are only one half of this sprawling storm. We're going to see heavy snow and a period of blizzard conditions on the northern side of the low-pressure system.


Cold air rushing down from Canada will allow for several days of heavy snow to fall across the northern Rockies and the northern Plains. We're on track to see more than a foot of snow across a wide swath of the Dakotas. High winds of 40+ mph will lead to periods of blizzard conditions for the hardest-hit areas. Travel will be dangerous if not impossible during heavy snow and blowing snow.

It's important to note that the National Weather Service's forecast above stops Wednesday morning as the storm is still raging. These hefty snowfall totals will spread east deeper into eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota through the day on Wednesday and Thursday.

Fire Risk

As if blizzards and tornadoes aren't enough, there's a wildfire risk to go along with this classic springtime storm. Dry, gusty winds behind the system will blow across parts of the southwest and southern Plains, leading to a risk for critical fire weather conditions just about every day this week.


The risk for favorable fire weather conditions—warm temperatures, gusty winds, low humidity, and dry fuels—will persist each day Monday through Thursday, mainly centered on eastern New Mexico, far eastern Colorado, and western portions of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

There aren't too many people out this way, but given the favorable conditions and ongoing drought, even the smallest fire can run away and threaten homes in a hurry.

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April 5, 2022

Strong Tornadoes, Damaging Winds Likely Across The Southeast On Tuesday


Another week in spring, another round of severe storms targeting the southeastern states. 

We're looking at an enhanced risk for severe thunderstorms across portions of the Deep South, stretching from southeastern Mississippi to the South Carolina Lowcountry. Strong tornadoes, widespread damaging winds, and occasional instances of large hail are possible across the affected areas.


A trough swinging across the southeastern United States triggered a batch of severe thunderstorms on the southern Plains late Monday night. The complex continued east through the overnight hours, bringing raucous severe storms to Mississippi and Alabama through the early morning.

Today's threat for severe weather will be a messy mish-mash of squall lines and individual thunderstorms. The greatest threat is widespread damaging wind gusts of 60+ mph. These winds can easily cause tree damage and power outages. Higher gusts could lead to damage to homes and buildings. As always, take stock of trees and tree limbs that loom over your home and avoid those rooms when high winds arrive.


There's also enough wind shear in the atmosphere for any thunderstorms to begin rotating and potentially produce tornadoes. The Storm Prediction Center painted a 10% risk for strong, long-lived tornadoes along a swath stretching from south Alabama to southern South Carolina, including Mobile, Montgomery, Dothan, Albany, and Savannah. 

Make sure you've got a way to receive severe weather warnings the moment they're issued. Storms on a day like this can move quickly, reducing the amount of time you have to react before the weather at your location goes downhill. Check your phone and ensure that emergency alerts are activated for tornado warnings. These push alerts are proven life-savers that reach your phone the moment your location is placed within a tornado warning polygon.


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April 1, 2022

The Skies Above: A fascinating look at our atmosphere and beyond


I am so proud to announce that my new book, The Skies Above, is now available around the world.

The Skies Above is a celebration of what we overlook when we look up. Auroras, sunsets, thunderstorms, rainbows, you name it—our skies are full of wonder on even the quietest day.

It was a pleasure working with the great folks at Indelible Editions who expertly designed, edited, and pitched our project to our publisher, Mountaineers Books.

I compiled more than 200 pages of fascinating information about our atmosphere and beyond. Full illustrations and vivid photographs bring storms and stars to life.

The Skies Above covers everything from the basics (what is an occluded front, anyway?) to the complex, like how warm water actually strengthens a hurricane. We’ll look beyond our atmosphere, as well, diving into the Sun’s storms, exploring our Moon, and even gawking at a meteor that damaged a town in 2013.

I also set out to answer some of the most common questions about the weather. What causes that delightful earthy smell right before the rain? Where is the safest place to hide out during a tornado warning?

The driving force behind my weather writing over the past dozen years is to help my readers prepare for whatever comes their way.

If someone understands the weather, they’re more likely to pay attention to the forecast beyond whether we need a coat in the morning. If you know what to look out for when tornadoes are in the forecast or when a hurricane is close to shore, that knowledge might help alleviate some of the storm anxiety so many folks (me included!) battle during the height of severe weather season.


There’s so much more to our atmosphere than meets the eye. The next time you’re outside, take a good, long look at the sky. Each cloud is a work of art. The color of the sky is the product of vivid collisions between light, water, ice, and gas. You might even spot the final flash of a meteor that’s millions of years old.

You can buy your copy of The Skies Above just about anywhere you love to buy books, including:

➤  Amazon
➤  Walmart

If your favorite bookstore doesn’t have it in stock, ask them to carry it. If your local library doesn’t have it on their shelves, put in a request to add it to their inventory.

I can’t wait to hear what you think about The Skies Above. Please send me a tweet or tag me on Instagram @wxdam. Let your family, friends, and followers know about the book, too. It’s a great gift for everyone.

Our skies are full of wonder on even the calmest day. Never stop looking up—you never know what you’ll see when you gaze at the skies above.

As always, thank you for reading.

—Dennis



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