May 10th vs. May 19th

It’s been a popular question back here in the weather center. How will today’s severe weather outbreak compare to last Monday’s? While there are many similarities, there are also many differences. So, let’s compare in detail.

I think the obvious answer on how these 2 days will differ will be the speed of the storms. Last week, we had the storms hauling it to the northeast at 50-60 mph with a lead time of only a few minutes. Storms moving this fast made it difficult to give an increased lead time in tornado warnings. We still did it, but it was hard. Today’s storms will likely be moving much much slower. More like 25 mph. This will easily help protect lives as the lead time for tornado warnings will be much much more. As for the instability in the atmosphere. Last week, we had CAPE levels that were in excess of 3000 j/kg. (This is considered extremely high). Today’s CAPE levels will be less, around 2000 j/kg, which is considered high, but not as high as last week. Just keep in mind that even though the instability may be lower today, 2000 j/kg CAPE values is still considered high enough to create a mess out there. As for the similarities, both days started out cloudy and then saw a break in the clouds around noon. Both days also had the center of the low track just north of here, around Kansas. So, we have some similarities and some difference… either or.. DO NOT PUT YOUR GUARD DOWN just because today does not have the same dynamics as last week.



One Response

  1. Damon,

    Are meteorologists concerned with the measure of specific energy (units in kJ/kg) in the atmosphere to determine the statistical probability of storm formation or to determine storm strength?

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