Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Slow Start to Severe Weather Season

The first Severe Thunderstorm Watch of March 2015
The late but long winter segued into a very slow start to the convective severe weather season in the U.S. Severe weather during the month of March was practically non-existent until the last week of March. The first severe thunderstorm watch of March 2015, and only the fifth of the year was issued for the afternoon and evening of March 24th in eastern Oklahoma, northwest Arkansas, and the southwestern quarter of Missouri. This was the latest first March watch since 1970. Thunderstorms developed as forecast, and when all was said and done there were 70 reports of severe hail (1.00 inch or greater), with three reports of two-inch hail. There were no reports of high winds with these storms.


The atmosphere was a little more primed for severe weather on March 25th, and the Storm Prediction Center had a Moderate Risk of severe weather across central and northeastern Oklahoma into extreme southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas.

Storm Prediction Center outlook issued at 11:30 a.m. CDT March 25, 2015

This time the storms were more widespread and spawned a more springlike menu of hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes. There were a number of reports of hail between two and three inches, and one report of 4.5 inch hail in Tulsa.

The bigger news from this event was the tornado that hit Moore, OK. Yes, this is the same Moore, OK that was devastated by a massive EF-5 tornado on May 20, 2013. This time Moore fared a lot better. There was some low-end EF-2 damage, but most was EF-0 to EF-1. A recap of this event, including video, photos, and maps, is available at the Norman, OK National Weather Service office web site.

Those two days were followed by a few days of relatively quiet weather. On March 31st an area of Slight Risk was painted from northern Texas and southern Oklahoma eastward across Arkansas into west central Alabama. There were many reports of hail and high wind but fortunately no tornadoes. Tornado warnings were issued yesterday afternoon for a storm moving through Arkansas but there were no touchdowns, although a funnel cloud was reported by a spotter.

There will continue to be a slight risk of severe thunderstorms through Friday as the cold front now moving into the central U.S. moves to the east coast. Showers and thunderstorms will return to the Midwest and lower Great Lakes next week as a frontal system stalls across the northern U.S.

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