5:25 pm update: Several tornado warning have been issued this afternoon mainly in Oklahoma, with reports of tornadoes on the ground. Recent tweets from @TWCbreaking include “violent tornado located just south of Calumet, OK” and “Spotter 5 miles SSW of Calumet, OK reports extensive damage to trees and buildings off the interstate. Parts of cars laying in a ditch” and “Emerg. Manager: Report of #tornado damage near Sickles, OK (Caddo Co.), just west of Lookeba.”
From 12 p.m.: Providing no rest for the weary, another significant tornado outbreak is forecast to take place during the next two days, with the greatest risk today in parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, North Texas and Missouri – including the hard-hit community of Joplin, Mo., where search and rescue operations continue following Sunday evening’s EF4 tornado, which wiped out much of the town and killed at least 117. Tomorrow the greatest risk of tornadoes will slide eastward.
NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Okla., has classified this region in the South Central portion of the country as a “high risk” area for strong tornadoes, very large hail, and damaging thunderstorm winds today and tonight. The last time SPC issued a “high risk” outlook was in advance of the devastating tornado outbreak across the South in late April, which became the deadliest tornado outbreak since April 1974.
Radar shows thunderstorms are already firing up from northeast Kansas into southeast Nebraska
The threat of severe weather today extends east to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, where the main threats consist of damaging thunderstorm winds and hail, although isolated tornadoes can’t be ruled out.
Tomorrow, the heart of the severe threat is projected to move east, with a ”moderate risk” for severe weather covering parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana.
Why is the threat of severe weather so high today? The culprit is a classic combination of moisture, heat, instability and a strong jet stream. Here’s how SPC characterized today’s severe storm setup (capitalization from original statement):
A STRONG JET STREAM DISTURBANCE NOW OVER THE SOUTHWESTERN DESERTS WILL SWEEP EAST ACROSS THE SOUTHERN ROCKIES TODAY...AND ACROSS THE SOUTHERN PLAINS TONIGHT...BEFORE REACHING THE OZARKS EARLY WEDNESDAY. AS THIS OCCURS...AN ASSOCIATED SURFACE LOW WILL DEEPEN AND MOVE NORTHEAST FROM THE TEXAS PANHANDLE INTO CENTRAL KANSAS.
STRENGTHENING LOW-LEVEL SOUTHERLY WINDS EAST OF THE LOW WILL TRANSPORT INCREASINGLY WARM AND HUMID AIR NORTHWARD ACROSS THE PLAINS AND OZARKS...BENEATH UNUSUALLY STRONG WEST-SOUTHWESTERLY WINDS IN THE JET STREAM. SCATTERED INTENSE THUNDERSTORMS WILL FORM THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING IN AN ARC FROM CENTRAL KANSAS SOUTHWARD THROUGH CENTRAL OKLAHOMA INTO NORTH TEXAS AS DAYTIME HEATING FURTHER DESTABILIZES THE REGION AHEAD OF THE DEEPENING LOW.
CONDITIONS WILL BE FAVORABLE FOR THE STORMS TO ASSUME STRONG...SUSTAINED ROTATION...AND TO PRODUCE POSSIBLY VIOLENT TORNADOES AND VERY LARGE HAIL AS THEY MOVE / DEVELOP GENERALLY NORTHEASTWARD INTO EASTERN PORTIONS OF KANSAS AND OKLAHOMA. THE STORMS LIKELY WILL ORGANIZE INTO AN EXTENSIVE BAND THIS EVENING...EXTENDING THE RISK FOR DAMAGING WIND...LARGE HAIL...AND A FEW TORNADOES EAST AND NORTHEAST INTO PARTS OF ARKANSAS AND MISSOUR BY EARLY WEDNESDAY.
STATE AND LOCAL EMERGENCY MANAGERS ARE MONITORING THIS POTENTIALLY VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION.
Stay tuned to CWG for updates on any severe weather that threatens the D.C. area later today and tonight. You can follow us on Twitter at @capitalweather, and receive breaking severe weather warnings via twitter at @dcweatheralerts.