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Several Days of Severe Weather Potential Ahead For West Michigan


We've been tracking the potential for multiple severe weather threat days for more than a week now. Today starts that sequence with a Marginal Risk (level 1/5) issued by the SPC, continues tomorrow with a Slight Risk (level 2/5), and will wrap up by late Wednesday evening with another Marginal Risk in place.

Today (05/20/2024) - Marginal Risk (Level 1/5):

Two rounds of showers and thunderstorms are expected today with the first moving through the area later this morning. This initial round of storms is not expected to be severe, largely because of the lack of instability (energy storms use to feed on) this early in the day.

The primary threat for severe weather today will come later this afternoon and into the evening hours as additional showers and thunderstorms move through the region. The greatest threat today will be in the form of isolated damaging wind gusts to 60 MPH. A couple of large hail stones on the order of an inch in diameter or so may also be possible. The tornado threat is also non-zero with this system as shown in the 2% risk delineation on the SPC's Day 1 Tornado Outlook, especially here in lower Michigan where we can often see low-level wind shear (how winds change speed and direction with height) enhanced by the lake breeze, as well as the warm frontal boundary that will be in place somewhere in this region. All severe hazards will be marginally severe, so similar to the low-end damaging wind threat and large hail threat, the tornado threat would also encompass the low-end, weak, brief spin-up variety.

This activity should clear East of the US-127 corridor by about Midnight tonight although isolated showers and non-severe thunderstorms may continue in some areas.

Tuesday (05/21/2024) - Slight Risk (Level 2/5):

All eyes then turn to Tuesday. Tuesday will be the day of most concern in terms of potential severe weather for West Michigan. Once again, an "all-hazards" risk will be on the table with a non-zero Tornado Risk and a low threat for large hail. The greatest threat will be from damaging wind gusts as the SPC has expanded the rather broad 15% wind risk delineation quite substantially to account for the widespread risk of outflow-type winds mixing down to the surface from the dying linear complex of showers and thunderstorms that will be moving through the region from Wisconsin during the early overnight hours tomorrow.

It is of note that the SPC does have a large 30% risk, including a rather broad hatched area for significant damaging winds of 75+ MPH in place just to our West/Southwest. While I don't foresee this as likely, it is certainly possible, and we'll continue to watch this, that we see this area expand Eastward into West Michigan in later outlooks.

Heavy rainfall and an attendant low-end risk for isolated flash flooding continues to be a concern as well. The WPC continues to highlight a skinny Marginal Risk of Excessive Rainfall (level 1/4) area along the lakeshore and a broader area up closer to Traverse City.

While some of the details like timing and specific hazards are starting to come into better view, it is still important to note that this threat is more than 36 hours away and there is plenty of time for things to continue to evolve. Persons in the risk areas need to stay tuned for future forecasts and make preparations now for potentially severe weather, especially given that the threat may largely be overnight while you are sleeping. Think about ways in which you will receive those life-saving weather alerts while you are asleep.

Wednesday (05/22/2024) - Marginal Risk (Level 1/5):

One more day of severe weather potential centered on Southeast Michigan and the Southeastern portion of our coverage area will exist on Wednesday before cooler and drier, more seasonable conditions take over as we head into Memorial Day Weekend.

Details surrounding Wednesday's severe weather threat are still blurry at best. The severe threat on Wednesday will be highly dependent on the evolution and intensity of the severe weather that could occur overnight on Tuesday.

For this reason, we're going to continue to table more in-depth discussions until a later forecast. The bottom-line with Wednesday is to be aware that there is some severe weather potential and to keep an eye out for additional forecast updates.

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