The first system with chase potential in traditional Great Plains expedition territory will materialize in the central USA this weekend. The primary event of interest is on Sunday, when moisture returns north to set up a dryline under a modest upper jet.
The typical early-season concerns will be present with this system: extensive cloud cover, moisture return just barely reaching the 60F dewpoint threshold in Oklahoma and the main area of interest along and south of the Red River in less-than-ideal chase terrain. Nonetheless, this system is enough to register the first increase on the expedition probability meter, which I’ll currently place at 15%.
Medium and long-range models are also hinting at an active period continuing to the end of March, as several systems with at least minor chase potential present themselves. I’m not seeing any blockbuster tornado setups on the horizon yet, but there should, at the very least, be plenty of lightning and hail to herald the first couple weeks of “official” spring in the Plains and Midwest. It’s enough, in fact, that I may embark on a lightning-only expedition during one of them! Stay tuned.
The following table charts the probabilities for a Plains weather expedition taking place for the date ranges shown:
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