WAXAHACHIE — Just as the hailstorm concluded Sunday evening, the storm chasers and meteorologists were already hard at work to prepare for the next round of spring storms.
The National Weather Service in Fort Worth reported hail from the Sunday storm ranged from golf ball size (1.75 inches) to softball-size or larger (over 4.00 inches) in parts of McKinney, Denton and Decatur.
According to Texas Storm Chasers, as well as several other weather agencies such as the NWS, a second round of severe storms will return to the area Tuesday evening and into Wednesday morning. Texas Storm Chasers, utilizing the Storm Prediction Center, have already placed parts of North Texas, especially those east of Interstate-35 and north of Interstate-20, under a Category 3 or "enhanced" risks of severe weather, while most of the other portions of the area are in a Category 2 warning.
The National Weather Service confirmed the Category 2 and 3 risks just after 3 p.m. Monday.
"Now that we’ve gotten through Sunday’s setup, we will now focus on the potential severe weather event expected tomorrow (Tuesday) and on Wednesday. As yesterday demonstrated, the strength of the cap will play a big role in how far south or how many storms we deal with," stated David Reimer in his blog update on TexasStormChasers.com. "The cap ended up being a tad weaker yesterday than anticipated, so we had storms ‘unzip’ down the dryline into Central Texas. Keep that in mind when we’re talking about future events. Just like winter weather in Texas, there’s always a surprise or two with severe weather."
According to Reimer, the Category 3 risk for severe weather Tuesday and into Wednesday runs from Northwest Texas to northwestern half of North Texas. He noted that San Angelo, Abilene, Graham, Vernon, Wichita Falls, Gainesville, Denton, Weatherford, and Stephenville are a few cities in this risk zone. Reimer also added that a standard Category 2 risk includes the eastern Texas Panhandle, portions of West-Central Texas and into Southwest Texas, as well as the remainder of North Texas, the Hill Country, and western portions of Central Texas. Some of those cities include but are not limited to, Shamrock, Snyder, Ozona, Junction, Del Rio, Kerrville, Burnet, Killeen, Hillsboro, Dallas, Sherman, and Bonham.
"Expect changes to the outlook areas in subsequent updates as tomorrow’s convective evolution will help play a part in where the highest severe weather chances materialize on Wednesday," Reimer explained. "By the late evening hours Tuesday a squall line should be underway in portions of Northwest Texas, the Big Country, Concho Valley, and perhaps even into North Texas. The timing could still change by a few hours, either faster or perhaps a bit slower. Just don’t be surprised if that line of storms ends up further east by 10 p.m. than what is [predicted at this time].
"The primary severe weather threat with a squall line would be damaging straight-line winds up to 70 miles per hour, hail up to the size of quarters and brief tornadoes. The sustained threat for tornadoes would be highest with any discrete storms still underway. Some storms may still be impacting the Texas Panhandle as well tomorrow evening and those could contain high winds and hail."
According to Reimer and the Texas Storm Chasers, the greatest threat for North Texas comes during the early morning hours — between approximately 2-4 a.m. — Wednesday.
"By early Wednesday morning, [our] model has a squall line approaching Interstate 35 from the Red River south to San Antonio, all the way southwest to Del Rio. Some storms in this line would likely still be potent with damaging straight-line winds up to 65 miles per hour and hail up to the size of quarters. The tornado threat would be low, but a brief spin up couldn’t be ruled out in enhanced parts of the squall line. It would be moving east at 30 to 40 miles per hour, most likely."
He added that the storm should be in a "weakened" state by late morning Wednesday as it moves into East Texas.
"These risks are not unusual or by any means rare in Texas. It's our spring tornado season and that does start in March," Reimer added. "Make sure you and your family have a severe weather safety plan and way to receive severe weather warnings."
According to an ongoing conversation and updated outlook issued by the NWS in Fort Worth, the forecast by the Texas Storm Chasers was mostly confirmed by 3 p.m. Monday afternoon. On its website under the "Area Forecast Discussion," the NWS states a dryline bulge in the Big County late Tuesday may result in the storm's ability to "race eastward overnight into Wednesday morning, posing a nocturnal wind threat."
"This may be the bulk of the rain event for areas west of the I-35 corridor. Before the atmosphere can recover during the day Wednesday, a deep mid-level dry slot will shut off the rain chances, which will be primarily confined to areas east of I-35 Wednesday afternoon," the NWS outlook states. "[...] Despite extraordinary Precipitable Water values and the considerable precipitation efficiency that will result, the system is looking less protracted with fewer rounds of rainfall at any given location.
"Event totals may still exceed an inch in some areas, particularly where storms occur both late Tuesday and early Wednesday. But this is looking less like a heavy rain event and more like a typical spring severe weather event."
The Texas Storm Chasers began in 2009 and have gained over 515,000 followers on Facebook since that time. For more information on the organization or to stay up-to-date on breaking weather news, visit their official Facebook page by searching "Texas Storm Chasers" or texasstormchasers.com.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith