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Severe Weather Possible Overnight Tonight In West Michigan


Severe thunderstorms posing a primary threat for damaging wind gusts of 60-70 MPH and a low-end large hail and tornado risk are expected in West Michigan overnight tonight with the greatest threat being along the lakeshore and areas west of the US-131 corridor.

Community Preparedness:

Before diving into the details of the forecast we need to have a quick discussion about this threat and how you should prepare for overnight severe weather.

This threat for severe weather this evening is definitely the highest threat we've experienced so far this year, at least in terms of the Categorical Risk Level from the Storm Prediction Center.

The SPC has outlined a broad area of Enhanced Risk (level 3/5) that does extend into far Western Lower Michigan. So what does this mean?

An "Enhanced Risk" of Severe Weather means that several severe storms are possible across the region and that severe storms could be widespread. With this type of risk the confidence in severe weather occurring is fairly high and the severe storm threat could last for up to 12 hours. In addition to the potential for a relatively more widespread and/or longer duration threat as compared to our more common Marginal and Slight Risks, this threat also has the potential to produce a few intense storms. In this case, while not immediately likely, we won't rule out an isolated damaging wind gust to 75 MPH this evening, especially along the lakeshore.

Q: What should I do to prepare?

A: Nighttime severe thunderstorms can be very dangerous. The most important thing is to have more than one reliable way to receive weather alerts. Turn on those Wireless Emergency Alerts in your phone's settings, ensure that you have a NOAA Weather Radio on each level of your home, and have several weather alert apps installed on your phone. Do not rely on outdoor warning sirens to alert you while you are indoors.

Forecast Discussion:

As aforementioned, there is now an Enhanced Risk in place across far Western Lower Michigan. Damaging wind gusts of up to 70 MPH will be the primary concern with a non-zero tornado (2% risk) and large hail (5% risk) concern.

Temperatures will soar well into the low to mid 80's today and dew points in the 60's will provide substantial low-level moisture. This will allow for atmospheric instability to accumulate rapidly well into the early evening hours.

This destabilization may result in a few isolated "pop-up" showers and storms later this afternoon. These pop-up storms will likely remain isolated and non-severe in nature.

By early evening a well-defined north/south oriented line of showers and embedded severe thunderstorms should be progressing eastward through southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. This line of storms will continue to track towards Lake Michigan as sunset begins.

Here in Michigan, as sunset begins we will start to lose that daytime heating and attendant destabilization. This reduction of destabilization will increase rapidly as time goes on and CAPE (energy storms feed on) will drop from nearly 2,500 to 1,000 J/kg very quickly.

As the line of storms tracks into this more stable/less potent air mass it will begin to weaken. Questions remain as to how intense these storms will be as they reach the Michigan side of the lake and how far east a severe threat will be maintained. Regardless, a decaying line of severe thunderstorms will impact the lakeshore at around Midnight tonight and we will need to watch the progression of this line very closely.

Heavy rainfall and isolated flash flooding are also a threat tonight for our lakeshore communities. WPC continues it's Marginal (Level 1/4) Risk.

Stay tuned to West Michigan Weather on social media throughout the day today for updates. Live Storm Chasing

Storm chasing plans are still up in the air. We are waiting for additional professional forecast guidance as well as computer weather model data prior to storm chasing this evening. Nighttime events are very hard to livestream because there isn't a lot to see.

We'll provide updates on our plans later today.

Wednesday 05/22/2024

All severe weather threats for Wednesday have been shifted well off to the southeast. No severe weather is expected for our coverage area.

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