Cool Front Sparking Thunderstorms

A cool front has sparked thunderstorms, which are ongoing across northwestern Oklahoma, northern Oklahoma, and much of southern Kansas. This activity will push towards the ESE during the late morning hours impacting many locations north of I-40. By the early afternoon hours, new thunderstorm activity should develop along an outflow boundary from this activity in eastern Oklahoma. This activity will also push towards the ESE and impact parts of Arkansas, northeastern Texas, and parts of Louisiana. A second area of storms should develop further west in central Oklahoma and northwestern Texas. This activity will move towards the ESE and impact far northern Texas and southern Oklahoma.

These storms will produce severe weather and heavy rainfall. The Storm Prediction Center has a slight risk of severe thunderstorms for much of Oklahoma today. Isolated flash flooding is possible, too, from today through Saturday. Much of northern Oklahoma will see 1-3″ with isolated higher amounts. I’ll have more details on Friday and Saturday’s forecast later today.
SPC Thunderstorm Forecast (Thursday)
Precipitation Forecast (Next Five Days)
NAM Rainfall Forecast

The Southeast will see thunderstorms, too, due to a few shortwaves embedded in the pattern swinging across the area. Each shortwave that traverses across the area will generate thunderstorm activity. Current thunderstorm activity across Tennessee and northern Mississippi should continue today, and expand into northern Alabama.

Thunderstorm activity will increase for locations further east as a cool front pushes into parts of upstate South Carolina, northern Georgia, and northern Alabama by the weekend. Heavy rainfall is likely with any storm that develops as well as gusty winds. An isolated flash flood threat may develop across northern Georgia up through North Carolina where a band of 2-3″ of rainfall is likely.
NAM Rainfall Forecast

Heat, Severe Storms, Flooding, and Everything In Between

Cold front temperatures

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Firsthand Weather’s Early 2016-17 Winter Forecast will be released August 7th, 2016 at 2 pm ET on the main website. Mark your calendars! An article with some of my recent research on the upcoming winter will be coming out in a few days.

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Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida:

A trough is going to continue digging into the Great Lakes region, and this trough will actually eventually extend as far south as the southern Appalachian regions. A low pressure system, now located in Canada, has a cold front associated with it that will eventually dig into northern parts of this zone. As we have become used to, this front will stall out somewhere along the northern Gulf coast states most likely by early weekend and will probably eventually lift back northward. This front may get a little farther south than that in places, since it’s not likely that the front will be perfectly oriented west to east across those states. The most noticeable relief will likely be across Tennessee and Kentucky late week into early weekend, where dew points could drop slightly, but even still, temperatures will likely still climb into the 80s/90s. Elsewhere, temperatures will be climbing into the 90s and even 100s in spots. You’re used to it at this point though.

Drought conditions have worsened for many of you, although Kentucky, northern Tennessee, a good part of North Carolina, and northwest Arkansas into the Ozarks, have gotten above average precipitation so far this month. Elsewhere, drought has continued to expand and worsen across a large part of this region. Luckily, Florida is 100% drought-free though.

Generally, there will be storm chances through Saturday, especially along and south of the front. This basically includes most everyone in this zone. I want to point out a few more specifics though, and then briefly touch on next week. I discussed the ridging that will be over the Southwest in the other section, Arkansas/Louisiana will be on the far eastern side of this ridge (although far enough east to not be influenced by it too much initially) and also on the southern edge of the trough swinging farther north. So this will open the door for disturbances to slide in from the west/northwest and could bring storminess across Arkansas and more scattered activity into Louisiana Thursday and Friday.

The trough will be far enough south for several disturbances to ride in and move across most of this zone from now going into Saturday. So storm/rain chances are pretty high across most areas between now and then, and some of this activity could persist into the overnight hours. With Bermuda high pressure just off and along the Southeast coast (a very typical summertime pattern in the Southeast), this will allow a moist south/southwest low-level flow to be prevalent in the coming days. Will this bring significant drought relief? Some will surely benefit more than others, but any chance is good given the drought situation. It’s going to take more than this to erase the drought though.

There’s one last thing I want to discuss and will have more updated info in Sunday’s newsletter. As I mentioned in some of the other sections, a heat wave is on the way, especially for the central third of the U.S. A very prominent high pressure ridge will build across the central U.S., but the eastern half of this zone will most likely be on the eastern periphery of the ridge. What this means is that the door will likely remain open for stormy activity to continue (some of which could be severe) for parts of Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Florida and eastern parts of Alabama and Tennessee. Disturbances tend to ride on the outskirts of these ridges, and those locations may end up in that zone. So, I’ll have more details on that soon.

West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine:

I’ll actually be keeping the discussion for this region pretty brief compared to everyone else’s. The same front will be swinging through that I discussed in the section below along with the same trough. The biggest difference is that the front won’t move through most of these areas until Saturday and Sunday (for far eastern zones). Temperatures will be most pleasant on Saturday (the hottest regions will be the coast), and actually not too bad on Friday for those northwestern portions of this zone.

A brief warmup will be on the way Sunday and especially into Monday, but another trough will dig into the region with surface high pressure building in behind the trough. This will bring really nice temperatures by mid-next week for most in the area. So this is going to be the place to go to avoid most of the heat for now.

There are chances for storms late this week into early weekend, and then another decent chance coming up next week. Embedded disturbances within both troughs will be responsible for enhancing those chances.

Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio:

A cold front currently extends from the North Plains into the Upper Midwest. South of the front, it’s pretty humid, and an embedded disturbance will continue to move across Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio tonight. A trough is going to continue to build into the region, and the cold front will continue to move across this region, which is associated with a low pressure system now in Canada. Temperatures will be cooling down behind the front with surface high pressure building over the area by the weekend. By Saturday, temperatures will generally be in the 70s and around 80/lower 80s for those in the southern portions of this zone. For most of this area, the humidity levels will come down on Saturday, although it will be very temporary (especially farther south and west in this region).

Wet conditions will be possible across Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan early on, associated with a couple of disturbances that will move across the area late this week. Missouri will likely remain on the stormy side as a couple of pieces of energy will move across that area from the west on at least two separate occasions between now and this weekend. A pretty potent disturbance may move into the Northern Plains on Sunday and come west into western parts of this zone late weekend and into eastern parts of this zone by Monday. This has to chance to bring storms/rain to a large section of this region. As you know, it’s difficult to be too specific on that since this discussion covers a large region.

I want to go ahead and give everyone an early heads up on a heat wave that will begin building into parts of this zone (Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana) early to mid next week and could even expand farther east by late week. The humidity levels are going to be rough, to say the least, and those in the Corn Belt are going to really know it. I’m probably going to put out a separate article on this and will be discussing this further in this Sunday’s newsletter.

Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota:

Before I get into the forecast for this week and weekend, let me just go ahead and give you a heads up that a heat wave is going to expand across this entire region next week. High pressure ridging will build into the area, and it won’t be going anywhere fast, given the overall pattern. With this region being in the center of the high pressure, this will basically cut off most rain/storm chances next week, with the exception maybe being along the outer edges of the ridge. So get ready for upper 90s and 100s.

Now, let’s get back to this week and the weekend. Temperatures are pleasant across the Central and Northern Plains, as a cold front is/will be moving through the region, associated with a system that is now moving across Canada. Troughing is particularly prevalent across the Northern Plains, and while the trough will be moving into the Great Lakes region later in the week, temperatures will remain nice across the Central and Northern Plains through the early weekend.

It will be a different story across Texas where temperatures will still be getting into the 90s/100s during the day. The front will make it most likely all the way into central Oklahoma, but temperatures below the front will be hot. Storm chances will persist from the Northern Plains down to Oklahoma this week as several disturbances (some stronger than others) could allow for an increase in storm coverage with the northwest to southeast flow regime in place late week/this weekend. It’s not uncommon to have disturbances like that embedded within the overall wind flow.

Ridging will build into Texas enough to keep the area mostly dry although storms may manage to move into or develop in extreme northern portions of the state. Severe weather/flooding will be possible from Oklahoma/Kansas Thursday and maybe again towards the weekend, with damaging winds and hail being the main hazards. However, I can’t rule out a lower-end tornado threat, too. Another area to watch will be the Northern/Central Plains later in the weekend as a potent disturbance moves through, which could bring widespread storm activity.

Again, all of this will take place before the big heat wave on the way starting next week.

Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico:

Some of you in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming actually got snow earlier this week, which is incredible. To be honest, I’m actually not sure how often this occurs in July, but I’d say that it’s pretty rare even at higher elevations. The system responsible for the major cool-down and the snow has since moved on, but temperatures remain on the cool side in the Pacific Northwest with the opposite occurring across the Southwest.

Right now, the pattern is pretty flat across the northwest quadrant of the U.S. (generally west to east wind flow). Although temperatures in the region aren’t as cool as they were, temperatures won’t get a chance to moderate too much initially before another trough digs as far south as northern California and northern Utah this weekend. This trough will eventually try to retrograde west (moving just off the coast) as ridging starts to build in from the east. This means a warmup is on the way from east to west early next week; however, temperatures could stay cooler near the coastal regions from northern California to Washington, depending on where the axis of the trough sets up.

A broad high pressure ridge will continue to build and stay centered over the southwestern states through the weekend and even beyond that. This means temperatures will stay hot, and conditions will be dry. So, California, New Mexico, Arizona, much of Utah and Nevada will stay dry. The best chances of rain/storms will be across eastern Colorado (due to a disturbance moving through) and northern Washington, northern Idaho, Montana, and parts of Wyoming due to the disturbance that will be swinging across the region.

Sports (Football) Forecasting

To say college football is popular is a dramatic understatement. College football continues to grow in popularity; setting a record of 49,072,591 fans attending games in 2014. Most of these games are at venues that are outdoors, so the fans are exposed to the elements—this is where Firsthand Weather comes in. Firsthand Weather is excited to announce a forecasting venture for college football games in 2016.

We will provide forecasts for college football games to help keep the fans safe who attend the games, as well as the spectators who tailgate outside of the college football venues. Our main priority at Firsthand Weather is to keep our followers alert and safe. If you fancy the tailgating, but don’t fancy the weather, check out – you can tailgate from the comfort of your own garage, and still enjoy the highs and lows that come with rooting for your favourite team.

Let us remember that weather plays a big influence on football games, too, outside of safety of the fans. Rain or snow can impact the passing game dramatically. Wind can have a direct impact on passing the ball, as well as field goal and extra point attempts. And, temperatures can impact the hardness of the ball.

These forecasts will cover precipitation chances, air temperature (including heat index and wind chill), and wind speed/direction for kickoff and halftime. The forecast will be released Thursday afternoon so Thursday, Friday, and Saturday games can be covered (as well as any odd-ball games that may fall on a Sunday or Monday).

With there being 128 NCAA Division I FBS teams, in 2016 we will cover a couple conferences, and expand to all conferences by 2017. This is where we need YOUR help. Let us know if this would be a service you would be interested in (it’s FREE). If it is, please let us know which conference the football team you follow is in. The three most popular conferences, based on YOUR vote, will receive the forecasts in 2016. Please select the conference in the poll below, and if you are not interested, just select not interested. Thank you!

(Also, if this becomes a popular idea for you all, I may include my personal football game predictions at the bottom of each forecast. I am a HUGE college football fan!)

Summer Cool Front And Rain Chances For Southern Plains And Southeast

The pattern has been on repeat across the Southern Plains over the past couple of weeks. While the upper level high is the predominant weather feature (which is responsible for the hot conditions), another cool front will push into northern Oklahoma Thursday afternoon as an upper level trough moves across the Plains. This cool front should advance southward through central Oklahoma. The front’s movement is highly dependent upon thunderstorm activity. The more storms that develop, the further south the front will be pushed.

Isolated severe thunderstorms are possible Thursday afternoon along this front. The main threats are damaging winds and large hail; however, an isolated tornado is possible before storms develop into a complex. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has a slight risk of severe thunderstorms for locations along the cool front.
SPC Thunderstorm Forecast Thursday Afternoon

Friday, more rain chances are likely and appear to be more widespread. Friday’s forecast is very ‘murky’ right now. It’s possible that Thursday’s thunderstorms could send the cool front, and an associated outflow boundary, pretty far southward into the Red River Valley. This, coupled with remnant outflow boundaries will give all of Oklahoma and northern Texas thunderstorm chances. The models cannot handle these scenarios this far in advance very well. The Texas Tech WRF is hinting at this scenario, and has handled these patterns very well as of late.
Texas Tech WRF Friday Afternoon

Northern Oklahoma/southern Kansas will also see thunderstorm chances Friday; there are strong signals from guidance that a MCS will develop and impact this area. These areas may see flooding concerns develop due to Thursday’s rainfall. Widespread 1-2″ of rainfall are possible north of I-40–isolated 3-4″ are possible.
Rainfall Forecast (Next Five Days)
Hi Res NAM Rainfall Forecast

The aforementioned upper level trough (that will send the cool front into Oklahoma) will advance eastward, which will temporarily weaken the persistent ridge across the Southeastern United States. This will create favorable conditions for thunderstorms for this region. Rain chances are possible for this region through Friday due to sea-breeze activity, but greater coverage can be expected by the weekend. If you have outdoor plans, please remain alert. These storms will produce gusty winds, frequent lightning, and very heavy rainfall.
NAM Rainfall Forecast

Even with the increased rain chances across both regions, temperatures will remain hot (in the 90’s). Stay hydrated!

Summer SNOW?!

An unusually strong trough is swinging across the Northwestern United States this weekend and will cause winter-like conditions for some areas.
NAM 500mb Vorticity

The northern Rockies will have the greatest impacts from this system; beginning tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon into Monday. The higher elevations (above 6,500 feet) of western Montana, northwestern Wyoming, and northern Idaho will see cold rain change to snow by Sunday evening.
NAM Simulated Radar (Monday Morning)

The snowfall forecast is tricky right now because the models are having issues with the track of the associated low-pressure system. It does appear locations as low as 6,000 feet may see a rain/snow mixture, with locations around 6,500 feet picking up 1-2″. Locations higher in elevation may see upwards of 4-8″ with higher amounts. It is likely that Glacier National Park will see a rain/snow mix, too, so if you have vacation plans, please dress accordingly.
NAM Snowfall Forecast Through Monday Night

Temperatures will be much below average. In the higher elevations, high temperatures will be in the 30’s. This is 20-30 degrees below average for this time of the year.
GFS Temperature Anomalies

For those of you dreaming of snow during this hot summer, keep in mind, it’ll be winter before you know it. Keep checking back for our 2016-17 Winter Forecast that will be released in a few weeks. We have been working and researching diligently to publish the most accurate winter forecast for you all.

Southern Plains Storms

As expected this time of the year, it has been hot and oppressive across the Southern Plains this week. Luckily, changes are in store beginning tomorrow (Friday). An approaching upper-level trough will push a cool front into northern Oklahoma late tonight into Friday. This cool front will provide adequate lift to generate scattered thunderstorm activity along and north of I-40 in Oklahoma, southern Kansas, and parts of the Texas Panhandle. Any thunderstorm that develops tomorrow has the chance to become severe. The main threats are damaging winds and large hail.
SPC Thunderstorm Forecast (Friday)

Heavy rainfall is possible with the thunderstorm activity on Friday, too, and the rain chances will continue through Sunday. These rain chances will continue throughout the weekend due to a couple upper-level disturbances moving across the area. 1-2″ is possible north of I-40, and for parts of the Texas Panhandle; with isolated higher amounts.
NAM Rainfall Forecast Through The Weekend

While most of southern Oklahoma and northern Texas wont see widespread rain chances. A few thunderstorms are possible for these areas; however, the more widespread activity will remain further north. Areas that do not see rainfall/cloud-cover can expect temperatures and humidity levels to remain uncomfortably high.

Severe weather risk for the Upper Midwest

Severe weather is currently active over the Northern Plains with a tornado watch and multiple severe thunderstorm watches active this evening.


A potent shortwave trough is moving across the Northern Plains this afternoon and is expected to move towards the Upper Mississippi Valley by Friday.  Currently, the greatest threat for severe weather exists from the  Black Hill region of the Dakotas East and Southeast across the Mid-Missouri Valley.  Strong and damaging wind gusts, very large hail and a few tornadoes are expected.   Multiple Mesoscale Convective systems from these severe storms will continue to progress further East from the Midwest down to the Carolinas  and Georgia.

severe outlook

Day 1 Risk Area (sq. mi.) Area Pop. Some Larger Population Centers in Risk Area
MODERATE 35,708 282,582 Mitchell, SD…Pierre, SD…Yankton, SD…Vermillion, SD…
ENHANCED 90,604 4,130,773 Nashville, TN…Des Moines, IA…Sioux Falls, SD…Clarksville, TN…Sioux City, IA…
SLIGHT 214,768 10,921,413 Omaha, NE…Lexington-Fayette, KY…Lincoln, NE…Savannah, GA…Cedar Rapids, IA…
MARGINAL 372,120 43,514,822 Columbus, OH…Memphis, TN…Charlotte, NC…Kansas City, MO…Cleveland, OH…

Tornado Watch Active

tornado outlook


Northern Nebraska, Western South Dakota and Far Northeast Wyoming until 10 PM CDT.


A few more tornadoes are likely with a couple of intense tornadoes possible.  Currently, there is an active Tornado Warning for a tornado on the ground in cherry County Nebraska.  Widespread Large hail and isolated very large hail to 3.5 inches in diameter likely and widespread damaging winds likely with isolated gusts to 80 MPH possible.

Intense thunderstorms, including Supercells and Supercell clusters have formed over the watch area and are moving towards the Eastern portion of the watch area.  South of this watch area, the Tornado risk is much smaller and a Severe Thunderstorm Watch is in effect until 10 PM CDT.  Squall line development is expected from the storms further north in the Tornado watch area.  This squall line will move into Central and Southern Nebraska and move toward the Southeastern and Eastern portions of this watch area.

tornado outlook

Further North,   a line of storms from Montana has moved into the Dakotas.  The severe thunderstorm watch for this area is slowly being cancelled from west to East but remains in effect for the Western Dakotas until 9 PM CDT.


Severe Thunderstorm Watches are in effect for a small portion of Central Tennessee, this watch should be cancelled shortly.


Thursday Severe Risk

severe outlook

Day 2 Risk Area (sq. mi.) Area Pop. Some Larger Population Centers in Risk Area
ENHANCED 120,618 9,748,278 Minneapolis, MN…Des Moines, IA…Cedar Rapids, IA…Springfield, IL…Peoria, IL…
SLIGHT 206,214 34,063,611 Chicago, IL…Indianapolis, IN…Milwaukee, WI…Omaha, NE…St. Louis, MO…
MARGINAL 347,083 42,004,487 Detroit, MI…Columbus, OH…Charlotte, NC…Nashville, TN…Kansas City, MO…

A complex setup is set for Thursday with multiple rounds of convection expected across a large region.  Clusters of severe thunderstorms will be likely within a Mesoscale Convective System over Iowa and  Southern Minnesota.  Downstream of this area, dew points  in the 70s will combine with daytime heating to form a moderately to strongly unstable air mass through the day. This set up should yield multiple clusters of intensifying storms from the late morning into the afternoon across parts of the Midwest.

In the wake of the morning activity, low level moisture should return on the Southwesterly flow underneath the elevated mixed layer.  Moderate to extreme mid-level cape could help generate another mesoscale convective system Thursday evening in the Iowa, Missouri, Illinois border area.

Farther north, strong mid-level winds associated with the trough will overspread Minnesota where strong instability already exists.  While instability does decrease the further north you go, scattered to widespread storms should form mid-afternoon to early evening.  Deep shear will be sufficient for organized strong clusters and embedded supercells.  Large hail and strong winds will be the primary risks.

Robert Millette

Staff Meteorologist

Firsthand Weather




Mother Nature’s Fireworks

Life’s been a little busy weather wise up here in my hometown of Boston as the 4th approaches and as busy as the weather’s been, I’ve been just as busy capturing it on film.    So to wish you all a very Happy 4th of July from this veteran, I give you a fireworks display mother nature style.




Robert Millette

Firsthand Weather

Staff Meteorologist

lightning 2lightning 5 lightning 6 lightning 21 lightning 20 lightning 18 lightning 17 lightning 16 lightning 12 lightning 10 lightning 9 lightning 7 lightning 22 lightning 23 lightning 24 lightning 25 lightning 26 lightning 28 lightning 29 lightning 30 lightning 39

Possible Tornado Near Stillwater, Oklahoma

Most of Oklahoma is under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch until 11:00PM tonight. The main threats are damaging winds and large hail, but isolated tornadoes are possible. There have been two tornado warned storms just northeast of Oklahoma City this afternoon. Here are two images of a possible tornado near Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Possible Tornado Near Stillwater, Oklahoma (Courtesy KFOR)

Severe Storms: Watches Being Issued

As mentioned earlier, severe thunderstorms are possible across parts of the Southern Plains today. The Storm Prediction Center has a slight risk of severe thunderstorms from the Southern Plains up into the Ohio Valley.
SPC Thunderstorm Forecast

The SPC is about to issue a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for parts of Oklahoma shortly. The area outlined in blue is the area that is being monitored.
SPC To Soon Issue Watch For This Area

The HRRR concurs with the thoughts of the SPC, and shows numerous thunderstorms, some likely severe, breaking out across the I-35 corridor by this evening.
HRRR Simulated Radar For This Evening

The main threats are damaging winds and large hail in this area. Further to the northeast, in the Ohio Valley, there’s a higher chance for a few tornadoes. The SPC has issued two Tornado Watches for this region through 10:00PM.

Tornado Watch