More Strong To Severe Storms Possible Today

Hello everyone!

Today will feature slightly cooler temps, less humidity, and another chance for strong/severe thunderstorms. The thunderstorm threat will develop later this morning and continue through the early evening hours. Storms are more likely in SW areas where more energy will be available aloft. While most of the storms are not likely to become severe, some of the stronger cells do have the potential to mix down some strong wind gusts and perhaps some small hail. Frequent lightning and heavy rain are the main threats. Highs will range through the 80’s with dew points in the 60’s which is still warm and certainly not dry but far better than yesterday.

WV Imagery Showing A Disturbance Dropping SE This Morning. Image Credit: SSEC
WV Imagery Showing A Disturbance Dropping SE This Morning. Image Credit: SSEC

A vigorous disturbance is currently located north of the Great Lakes and is forecast to drop SE and intensify, arriving in our area bu sunset. Storms will form out ahead of it late this morning/early this afternoon. When I talk about forecasting thunderstorms, I talk about the trigger, the organizer, and the fuel. This disturbance will be the trigger for today’s storms.

40-50 Knots Of Deep Layer Shear Will Organize Storms Into Small Clusters Capable Of Some Damaging Wind Gusts. Image Credit: SPC
40-50 Knots Of Deep Layer Shear Will Organize Storms Into Small Clusters Capable Of Some Damaging Wind Gusts. Image Credit: SPC

A band of strong winds and powerful shear will rotate around the disturbance today. The strongest winds will be pointing at Southern New England while Northern Maine sits in the calm aloft associated with the disturbance being to their south. In southern Maine/New Hampshire, we’re a bit on the edge. We likely see enough shear to get some small clusters but large squall lines are unlikely. If that disturbance can intensify enough fast enough, it could pull some of those winds north and we could see a bit more action. If it remains a little weaker, those winds will continue screaming towards SNE. These winds will be our organizer.

Hi-Res NAM Showing Modest Instability With More Unstable Air Moving In From The West. Image Credit: Weatherbell
Hi-Res NAM Showing Modest Instability With More Unstable Air Moving In From The West. Image Credit: Weatherbell

The biggest question today is how unstable the air will be. A cold front moved through last night (remember those storms?). That front has moved offshore and has taken the extremely soupy/unstable air with it. We are left with marginal moisture and several areas of clouds to limit surface heating. Model guidance suggests that more unstable air will try to filter in from the west later today but I have to wonder if that will make it in time. Also of note with regard to instability is wind direction. Westerly winds don’t exactly bring in the warm moist air you need for big storms. Regardless, we do still have leftover moisture and dew points remain in the 60’s which is sufficient for at least some storms. Also, wide swaths of clear skies this morning support some solid surface heating which will bring temps up into the 80’s, also plenty sufficient for storms.

All that to say, ingredients are at least sufficient for some storms, a few of which could be severe with strong winds and small hail. However, I do have doubts as to how unstable the atmosphere is. Also, we don’t have optimal winds aloft for organizing storms into lines capable of widespread wind damage. While organized severe storms are not forecast, still do keep an eye to the sky today and be prepared to duck inside for a few minutes if you plan on heading outside.

More storms are possible Monday and Thursday with two more cold fronts.

-Jack

2 thoughts on “More Strong To Severe Storms Possible Today”

  1. Jack,

    On Friday evening in Harpswell we had the most marvelous display of lightning I’ve seen in a very long time: almost continuous lightning, mostly in the sky and the clouds. However, there was very little thunder, which I found curious. Can you explain that?

    At one point, before the rain arrived, the lightning show was going on at the same time there was a break in the clouds to the east and we could see a bright orange moon rising. Quite beautiful.

    1. Alan, that sounds like an awesome storm! Your lack of thunder can be explained by the differences between light and sound. Light travels extremely well even through air. On a clear night, you can see light from stars trillions upon trillions upon trillions of miles away. The light from the lightning you saw only needed to travel a couple dozen miles so the dark night sky was continuously lit up. Sound, however, does not travel as well. Sound waves are little vibrations in the air that can easily be distorted by the wind. The sound waves from thunder typically can only travel 10-15 miles before they gradually fizzle out. Some of the strikes probably landed within that 10-15 mile radius around you (I assume you heard some thunder in Harpswell), but most of them fell just outside that as the storm moved through Portland. The sound waves slowly grew more and more diffuse and by the time they got to you, you couldn’t even hear them.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the storm, we have another shot at some rumbles today!
      Jack

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