Friday brings risk of severe weather to DC region

Sunday night into Monday of this past week brought parts of the region their first real taste of severe weather this spring season. Across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia there were a total of 147 storm damage reports made to the National Weather Service, including a potential tornado on Maryland's lower Eastern Shore. One person was injured when an EF2 tornado with winds of 120 mph knocked a tree into a house in Sussex County, Delaware while two people were killed in Virginia, including one in Stafford, when storm driven winds knocked down trees in the region.

Much like the beginning of the workweek, the end has the potential to be a busy one in our region as we track the potential for strong to severe thunderstorms. A vigorous storm system is forecast to develop across the southern United States on Thursday, bringing severe weather and the threat of tornadoes to portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Meanwhile, a strong push of southern warmth ahead of the storm will send temperatures well into the 80s across our region on Thursday afternoon. As the storm turns northward Thursday night, additional moisture will be pulled along with it. Wake up temperatures on Friday morning are expected to be warm and humid although most of the morning hours should be dry.

Into the afternoon hours, an upper level low pressure system will begin to deepen across the South, leading to the further strengthening of the surface storm and southerly winds. An area of low level enhanced winds, known as a low-level jet, will develop and strengthen across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic as the storm strengthens. Thunderstorms developing within this field of enhanced winds will have the potential to reach severe levels.

On Wednesday morning, the Storm Prediction Center which is the branch of the National Weather Service responsible for severe weather alerts, out in Norman, Oklahoma, placed our region in a "slight risk" zone for severe weather on Friday afternoon. As far as thunderstorm outlooks go, the is essentially "level 2 of 5" for severe weather concerns, although they have been known to be conservative in the extended range. Their primary concerns are localized thunderstorms containing wind gusts exceeding 50 mph, however they do note that the potential for a few isolated tornadoes exists as well. As of Wednesday morning, the highest tornado threat exists through eastern portions of Virginia down through the eastern Carolinas. Forecasters will be monitoring model simulations of this zone in the coming days to see if there is any movement north or south with it.

Whether storms reach severe criteria or not, the abundance of atmospheric moisture with the system brings the threat for heavy downpours and flash flooding. Currently, weather model suggest the "times to watch" on Friday for the activity are after the 2 p.m. hour for the immediate Washington, D.C. region. Rain and thunderstorms should exit our region during the late evening hours.

While the severe weather threat will diminish as we head towards the early morning hours of Saturday, the upper level low pressure system associated with is will unfortunately be rather slow to exit the region. On Saturday in particular, he system looks to remain in relative close proximity to the Mid-Atlantic. This has the potential to push Saturday in a cooler direction, with more clouds than sunshine and keeps the atmosphere unstable enough for scattered showers to be a threat throughout the day. This feature should exit our weekend on Easter Sunday, although possibly slow enough that the morning hours may still feature some shower activity. We will keep you posted on any forecast changes as we head through the second half of the week. Do not forget to download the Fox 5 Weather App to keep yourself ahead of the storms as well!

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