While we could have a rumble of thunder around here Monday night into early Tuesday, it appears the main threat of strong or severe thunderstorms will remain from far southern Wisconsin down through the Kansas area Tuesday afternoon. That region is under a slight risk classification from the Storm Prediction Center. The reason is that warm, and more humid air will be surging north ahead of a cold front. Temperatures there could reach the 70s making the air rather unstable. The cold front would be the trigger to lift the air and initiate the storms. Strong winds in the atmosphere and turning wind direction in height could allow several of the cells to become supercells with rotation. Thus a few tornadoes are possible, especially from west-central Illinois into Missouri. Otherwise damaging winds over 50 mph and hail to 1.5″ diameter will be possible as far north as Janesville, WI.
On a different note, I did a talk at the Simek Library in Medford Saturday regarding weather technology and other topics. One question from the audience came up regarding the Fujita scale. That scale has been around for numerous decades as it was developed by Dr. Theodore Fujita in the 1960s and 70s. It ranks tornado strength on a scale from F0 to F5, with F5 being the strongest. Research in the past 10 years regarding how winds damage buildings has allowed an upgrade to the scale. It is now called the Enhanced Fujita scale or EF scale. You can read all about the scale and how it’s applied by reading this article from the Storm Prediction Center. http://www.spc.noaa.gov/efscale/
This post was written by Tony Schumacher on March 26, 2012