WASHINGTON - The warm air is back, and with it comes a potential for stormy weather around the DC area. How will it impact you and your Tuesday evening? We're at a slight risk for severe weather before the night is over, and FOX 5 Meteorologist Mike Thomas breaks down what you need to know for your drive home and beyond.
UPDATE: A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been issued for portions of northern Maryland and the Eastern Shore until 9 pm. Here are 5 things you need to know about today's severe weather threat:
1. The heat is on!
You could probably tell when you stepped outside to go to work this morning that it was going to be a very warm day. As of this posting, temperatures around the region are beginning to rise into the low 80s. These are temperatures more typical of late May and early June for our region. Along with the heat, we have had some noticeable spring humidity in the region as well. With these elements in place, a cold front dropping southward out of Pennsylvania could be the trigger for some scattered thunderstorm late this afternoon and this evening.
2. Potential evening commute issues ahead.
Prime time for this particular event looks to be between 4-10 pm tonight. Take that with a grain of salt, as it will not be raining that entire time, nor will everyone in the region see storm this afternoon. Some mid-morning clouds have helped stabilize the atmosphere temporarily, but enough so that the storms will be scattered between Washington, DC and the Mason-Dixon Line before likely developing into a more solid line south of the city later this evening. While it is no guarantee, there is at least the potential that a storm could come across the metro around evening rush hour time and perhaps cause a few more slowdowns than during your typical evening commute.
3. Hail, wind, and lighting... oh my!
Given the setup this afternoon, it is possible that a few of today's thunderstorms could become severe. The main threats with the storms that do reach severe criteria will be gusty winds, hail, and cloud-to-ground lightning. This is not the same weather setup or scenario that we had in in late February which saw a small tornado outbreak across portions of Virginia and southern Maryland. That being said, locations that do see stronger thunderstorm could see some power outages and downed trees, but we are expecting damage reports to be much more isolated than they were with that event.
4. Play ball!
The Washington Nationals remain in town, and will start a three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies tonight at National Park with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 pm tonight. This, of course, is still within the range of times for potential thunderstorms around the region. Could storms affect the game? There absolutely is a chance of that. Will the game get rained out? Probably not. The nature of the storms today is to be generally "quick movers" where you have the storm approach quickly, a 30-60 minute downpour that could cause a rain delay with thunder and lightning, and then conditions improve as the storm moves on. Given the fact that widespread heavy rain is not in the forecast, and the potential that storms could in fact miss the stadium all together, we believe it is unlikely that the call the game. Temperature wise it will be a lovely evening for baseball, with game time temperatures in the 70s.
5. Today's big Weather is in the Plains.
While we may not be talking about a widespread severe weather event in our neck of the woods, other parts of the county are not so fortunate. Our storms today mainly lack one component that would have made severe weather more probable, and that is wind energy. The jet stream remains far enough to our north that it will not have a tremendous influence on the strength of today's thunderstorms. The exact opposite is true across portions of the Central and Southern Plains today, where a strong dip in the jet stream coupled with strong Gulf Moisture is expected to cause widespread severe weather outbreak including the potential for a number of strong tornadoes. The region is not known as "Tornado Alley" for nothing!
Count on the FOX 5 Weather Team throughout the evening as we track the storm threat. We will continue to bring you the latest weather information as it happens. You can also have local weather alerts pushed right to your smartphone by downloading the Fox 5 Weather App!