Rare High Risk Day For Oklahoma and Texas. Tornadoes Likely!

Strong, violent, long-track tornadoes are likely this afternoon and evening for parts of Oklahoma and Texas. A dryline will advance east this afternoon from southern Kansas, south through western Oklahoma into western Texas/the Texas Panhandle. This dryline will act as an initiation focus for new afternoon convection. Any storm that develops off of the dryline will quickly become severe, as it moves eastward, posing a threat for strong tornadoes, very large hail and damaging winds. Of even more concern is a warm front. The warm front is currently near the Red River lifting northward this morning. The warm front will lie somewhere across central Oklahoma (possibly just north of I-40). This boundary will act to significantly increase low-level shear, which will enhance the tornado threat in the vicinity of the front. The best chance for tornadoes will be across western and central Oklahoma, the eastern Texas Panhandle and northwestern Texas. A lesser tornado threat exists elsewhere.

Currently (this morning), there is ongoing convection across parts of the Texas/Oklahoma Panhandles as well as in western Oklahoma. This convection will continue over the next few hours. These storms are not the high-impact tornadic producing storms mentioned. The morning storms will mainly pose a heavy rain and hail threat. The high-impact severe storms should develop early this afternoon (around Noon) in western Texas/the eastern Texas Panhandle and move east. Significant severe storms will also develop along the warm front in central Oklahoma around this time. The severe threat (including tornadoes) will continue into the nighttime hours due to a strong low-level jet.

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has a high risk of severe storms for parts of Texas and Oklahoma (see Fig. 1). The high risk includes the OKC Metro, Stillwater, Ada as well as Lawton (see Fig. 2). A moderate risk includes Tulsa, Ardmore, Atoka and Wichita Falls. Strong tornadoes are likely in the high and moderate risk areas. High risk days are extremely rare! Please note, severe weather is also possible in the slight and marginal risk areas.

Fig. 1: SPC’s thunderstorm outlook map (Today)
Fig. 1: SPC’s thunderstorm outlook map (Oklahoma focus)

As the storms move east of I-35 overnight, a large complex is likely, which will produce damaging winds, small hail and isolated tornadoes. Isolated flash flooding is also possible. Please make sure you have a plan in place if you live in this region in case a watch and/or warning is issued for your area. Do not be afraid, just be prepared!