I usually take a casual look at the maps from the Storm Prediction Center. In this day of weather specialization, these guys watch for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.
In the past I have been critical of their work in the Northeast where severe weather responds to different stimuli than in the Plains. They do a good job in giving people like me a ‘heads up.’ We’re much better off with them, than without them. More flexibility in issuing watches here would be helpful.
I’ve watched with great interest over the past few days as they’ve posted a high risk outlook for severe weather over a large area. ‘High risk’ and ‘large area’ are rare and usually mutually exclusive.
ZCZC SPCPWOSPC ALL WOUS40 KWNS 151652 ARZ000-ILZ000-INZ000-KYZ000-MOZ000-MSZ000-OHZ000-TNZ000-160045- PUBLIC SEVERE WEATHER OUTLOOK NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK 1052 AM CST TUE NOV 15 2005 VALID 151652Z - 160045Z ...OUTBREAK OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS EXPECTED OVER PARTS OF THE OHIO...TENNESSEE AND LOWER MISSISSIPPI VALLEYS LATER TODAY AND TONIGHT. THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER IN NORMAN OK IS FORECASTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF A FEW STRONG...LONG-TRACK TORNADOES OVER PARTS OF THE OHIO...TENNESSEE AND LOWER MISSISSIPPI VALLEYS LATER TODAY AND TONIGHT. THE AREAS MOST LIKELY TO EXPERIENCE THIS ACTIVITY INCLUDE CENTRAL AND EASTERN ARKANSAS SOUTHERN AND EASTERN ILLINOIS MUCH OF INDIANA WESTERN AND CENTRAL KENTUCKY SOUTHEAST MISSOURI NORTHERN AND CENTRAL MISSISSIPPI WESTERN OHIO WESTERN AND MIDDLE TENNESSEE SURROUNDING THE HIGH RISK AREA...THERE IS A MODERATE RISK OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS FROM SOUTHERN LOWER MICHIGAN INTO LOUISIANA...SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI AND WESTERN ALABAMA A WIDESPREAD AREA OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS...INCLUDING SOME WITH LONG-TRACK TORNADOES AND VERY DAMAGING WIND...WILL AFFECT A LARGE PART OF THE EAST CENTRAL U.S. LATER TODAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING.
The operative words are “strong” and “long track.” That’s the recipe for disaster.
So far, there’s been one report of 65+ knot wind in Southwest Missouri. The day is young.
This weather system gets to us in Connecticut tomorrow. To quote Dorothy, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” There will probably be storms, just not as intense or with as much damage.
Meanwhile, if I were in the bullseye on the SPC map, I’d be sweating bullets today. Someone’s going to get hurt, or worse.