Last week forecasters were warning about the threat of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes for this evening.
That is still a possibility, but now it appears more likely that the storms arriving from the west will fall apart as they approach Southeast Missouri, leaving us with run-of-the-mill rain and maybe some rumbles of thunder.
Or maybe not. The national Storm Prediction Center has placed Southeast Missouri in a Slight Risk zone for severe weather.
They are hedging their bets in case the atmosphere is more unstable than expected. Their forecast discussion provides the gory details:
STRENGTHENING LOW LEVEL WIND FIELDS AND VERTICAL SHEAR WILL POSE A CONDITIONAL RISK OF SEVERE STORMS AND EVEN ISOLATED TORNADOES ALONG A CORRIDOR FROM AR INTO SOUTHEAST MO AND SOUTHWEST IL. THIS THREAT WILL BE DEPENDENT ON THE EVOLUTION OF ONGOING PRECIPITATION AND WHETHER A MOIST/UNSTABLE AIR MASS CAN RETURN NORTHWARD. CURRENT MODEL SOLUTIONS PROVIDE SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE THAT THIS COULD OCCUR TO MAINTAIN THE SLIGHT RISK IN THESE AREAS.
The key phrase is "conditional risk", which suggests that we will probably see nothing at all -- but there's a chance, if everything comes together, that we could find ourselves in the middle of a serious outbreak of storms with high winds and tornadoes. Oh joy.
As a result, this morning's Hazardous Weather Outlook from the Paducah forecast office includes these comforting words:
THERE IS A SLIGHT RISK OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS LATE TODAY AND TONIGHT OVER SOUTHEAST MISSOURI AND PARTS OF SOUTHERN ILLINOIS. THE MAIN HAZARDS WILL BE DAMAGING WIND GUSTS AND POSSIBLY A TORNADO OR TWO. ISOLATED SEVERE STORMS CANNOT BE RULED OUT EAST OF THE SLIGHT RISK AREA...INCLUDING WESTERN KENTUCKY AND SOUTHWEST INDIANA. THE STRONGEST STORMS WILL LIKELY OCCUR ALONG A STRONG COLD FRONT THAT WILL CROSS MUCH OF OUR REGION BETWEEN 10 PM AND 4 AM.
We'll have to keep an eye on the west and hope that the tornadoes (and earthquakes) remain confined to Oklahoma. We don't want any part of their Tornadoquakes or Twistertemblors.