March roaring in like a lion with severe thunderstorms

- -All afternoon and evening activities are cancelled for Prince George’s County Public Schools due to weather concerns.  

-All after-school activities canceled in Alexandria due to weather concerns.  

-Severe Thunderstorm Watches until 2:45pm for the following areas: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Howard, Prince Georges, Baltimore City and Montgomery County in MD. 

-Severe Thunderstorm Watches until 5:00pm for the following areas: Washington D.C., Berkeley, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Morgan County in WV, Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Charles County in MD, Greene, King George, Loudoun, Madison, Orange, Page County, Prince William, Rappahannock, Shenandoah,  Spotsylvania County, Stafford and Warren County in VA. 

-Temperatures surge into the 70s ahead of a strong cold front during the late morning & early afternoon.

-A little early afternoon sun destabilizes the atmosphere. IF less sunshine than expected is seen and temperatures are held in check today, severe weather may not be as widespread today.

-Worst of storms expected between 12 p.m. (west of town) - 4 p.m. (Southern Maryland). In the city, current guidance suggests storms between 2-3 p.m.

-Strong wind gusts of 60 mph+ are the primary concern with the storms. Large hail and an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out, however.

-Clouds and scattered showers linger into the evening. Winds will be very gusty tonight as colder air returns with high temperatures 20 degrees colder Thursday.

Severe Potential

The third major severe weather outbreak, and second tornado outbreak, of the young year rocked portions of the Midwest Tuesday evening carrying over into the early morning hours of Wednesday. Preliminarily, as of early this morning, there were 22 reports of tornadoes, most of which were in the state of Illinois. So far two people lost their lives. The same system that brought that region severe weather yesterday marches eastward into our region this afternoon. It will meet a very warm and humid air mass, which should fuel some strong thunderstorms later today. The Storm Prediction Center, a branch of the National Weather Service responsible for issuing severe weather outlooks, has placed the Baltimore/Washington metro region at a "slight risk" for severe weather while placing suburbs to the northwest in a high "enhanced risk" category.

Wednesday's Severe Risks

Despite the morning cloud cover, current weather modeling does suggest the region break into sunshine sometime between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. On the back of a gusty southwest wind, temperatures are expected to stretch well into the 70s this afternoon. With enough sunshine, 80 degrees (which would tie a record) is even within reach. However, unlike the sunny and warm days of last week, today’s warmth will not be welcome. The warmer we get, the more fuel that will add to the atmosphere for storms to develop later today.

The main line of storms is expected to push into the northern portions of West Virginia and the Maryland Panhandle between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. today. Between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. computer models suggest the line of storms could be approaching the Interstate 81 corridor, reaching D.C. between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., and Southern Maryland and the eastern shore between 3 p.m and  4 p.m. Note, that this time yesterday, weather models were suggesting 4 p.m. and  6 p.m. was the main time here in Washington, D.C. That means these storms may be moving faster than the weather models are suggesting. This means the storms have the potential to your home a little sooner than expected.

The main threat brought by the storms is the potential for damaging winds. Similar to the severe weather that hit the region on Saturday, the storms are expected to come through in an organized line rather than as individual storm cells. This type of storm formation is most commonly associated with a strong wind threat, with winds gusting above 55 mph are possible. However, much like Saturday, we can’t completely rule out the risk of an isolated tornado spinning up along the line of storms either, but these would be the exception rather than the rule. Scattered large hail is also possible with these storms. By the evening hours, the severe threat is greatly reduced but scattered showers and even another thunderstorm are possible even through the late evening hours. Whether or not storms that hit the region have gusty winds or not, winds will get very breezy as colder air pushes back into the region late tonight. Wind gusts between 40 mph and 50 mph are possible. High temperatures tomorrow afternoon will be 20 and 25 degrees colder than today.

2 Day Forecast

So is there anything that can go wrong today to keep storms from being as intense? Absolutely. Already this morning there is some steady rain falling through portions of northern Maryland and West Virginia. This has the added effect of cooling the atmosphere, which could help stabilize these areas as the main wave enters these same regions during the late morning/early afternoon. There may not be enough sun in these locations to provide the needed fuel for stronger storms, so if it is raining steadily at you home this morning, you may luck out this afternoon. Closer to the DC metro region, it is all dependent on the sunshine. If our weather models are wrong (it’s happened before) and we do not break out into some sun and heat things up later this morning, then severe storms could be much more isolated and risks heavily reduced. In addition, weather models suggest that upper level winds over Southern Maryland are not as favorable as elsewhere for strong storms, so those living in those regions may be spared the worst today But they should still keep their guard up.

Best advice we can give is stay alert. The FOX 5 Weather Team will be on it all day, so follow them on Facebook and Twitter as they will tweet the latest information as it comes in today. The FOX 5 Weather App will come in handy as well, as it will send notifications to your phone as soon as watches and warnings are issued this afternoon. Rest assured, we will be working hard to keep you safe all afternoon!

Stay with FOX 5 on the app and online for weather updates:

Get the latest FOX 5 forecast here.

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Stay up to date with the FOX 5 Weather Team on Twitter: @fox5weather, @suepalkafox5dc, @garyfox5dc, @TuckerFox5, @gwenfox5dc, @MikeTFox5, @caitlinrothfox5

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