Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Potential Severe Weather Outbreak Projected for Mid-June

I'm seeing an increased probability for a severe weather event, potentially an outbreak, for the middle of June.

The image above shows a long range forecast of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) anomalies over the equatorial region of the globe. In both of these images, the yellows represent positive OLR, or suppressed tropical convection, while the blues denote negative OLR, or enhanced tropical convection. We can see a strong active Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) signal on the bottom panel, with deep blues indicating abnormal convection occurring over southern India into the waters east of the subcontinent.

If we take a look at MJO composites for each phase, with blues once again defining enhanced convection and oranges signifying suppressed convection, it would seem that storms just east of India fit in best with a Phase 2 or 3 MJO event, seen on the left panels of this graphic above. Considering there has been a link observed between the MJO being in Phase 2 and violent tornado outbreaks occurring consequentially, there is reason to monitor this period for potential severe weather.

The image above shows projected 500mb height anomalies over the northern hemisphere. We can signify the blues with negative height anomalies, which indicate the presence of cooler and stormier weather, while reds denote positive height anomalies, which allow for warmer than normal and calm weather. In the image above, if we look towards the Bering Sea, we can see a very strong ridge of high pressure, seen by the splotch of red around the Aleutian Islands. This image is valid for May 13-14, and if we extrapolate it out 2-3 weeks using the Bering Sea Rule, we can expect high pressure and warm weather to appear in the East US. This extrapolated timeframe looks to fall around the time when this potential severe weather outbreak may strike, and the presence of strong high pressure migrating across the Eastern and Central US may amplify the potential for active weather.

Another device we can use to predict potentially active weather is this grid chart. The dates on the right display the date the forecast was made on, and the dates on the bottom legend indicate when this forecast is valid for. Warmer colors indicate the higher potential for severe weather. For instance, if I want to know the severe weather potential for May 20th on a forecast made on May 5th, I go up the legend on the left to find May 5th, then scroll on the corresponding horizontal line to find the May 20th box. In this case, we have been seeing elevated supercell composite values around the June 15-20 period for some time now, as the red box indicates. This is a long range forecast, but as you can see with severe weather events further to the left on the image, we can get a feel for severe weather potential a long way out, with more accurate forecasts usually coming a few days to a week prior to the event.

This potential event will be updated in coming days as more information becomes available.