Severe Thunderstorms could impact Carolinas on Friday

Lead Forecaster Daniel Crawley

Good Wednesday morning and welcome to Meteorological Spring,

Very mild weather; a staple of much of the winter continues on this first day of March. A broad Southeast US ridge continues to dominate the pattern east of the Mississippi. Meanwhile a tough is moving across the Four Corners and will intensify over the next 24-36 hours. You can also see Pacific moisture at the mid and upper levels being pulled out ahead of the trough.

This all is going to come together and drive a big storm from the Southern Plains up into the Midwest between now and Saturday.

Starting late Wednesday this storm system will begin to kick northeast and that will deliver two different rounds of moisture. Some of the Pacific moisture will get pushed across the Southeast US on Thursday and Thursday night. Then by Friday strong low pressure will lift and southwest winds aloft will surge into the Interior Southeast delivering another round of moisture before pulling out Friday night.

This is going to be a very dynamic system that could bring severe weather to a large area starting on Thursday and then extending into Friday.

By early afternoon Friday a tongue to winds at 10,000 ft will exceed 120 knots and at around 5000 ft the winds will be in the 70+ knots range. Areas of Northern Alabama, Northern Georgia, East Tennessee and Western Carolinas will be in the vicinity of the highest winds aloft. That in itself is a favorable ingredient for severe weather on Friday.

500 mb winds 1 pm Friday

The strong winds will help pull warm, unstable air into the Southeast. A damaging wind threat looks to be the highest with any convection that develops. Looking at the temperature map, a cold front will be knocking on the door of the Smokies by mid afternoon. That will serve as the surface trigger for storms.

One more thing you may notice is the appearance of a wedge boundary near the NC/VA line. That will be of interest because it could serve as another focusing mechanism for storms and with the low level winds being more southeast to easterly along that wedge front, that lends to the potential for some rotating storms. We’ll have to watch that closely to see where exactly that boundary lies. It wouldn’t take much of a southward shift to bring that into the I-40 Corridor.

The usually conservative GFS model is showing a little surface CAPE (thunderstorm fuel) for Friday…it won’t take a ton of CAPE given the wind energy. A QLCS (Line of storms) is a likely outcome for he frontal passage on Friday.

Here’s a first idea on the severe weather potential for Friday. Damaging winds and some stronger non-convective winds look like a solid possibility and with the surface features nearby a tornado risk does exist for Friday.

The weather team will keep an eye on model trends over the next 24-48 hours and will provide updates on this storm system as we get closer.

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