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Growing Severe Weather Concerns For West Michigan Today

Summary:

West Michigan Weather forecasters have growing concerns for severe weather potential in West Michigan today. Today is quickly shaping up to be one of the more robust threats that we have seen thus far. However, that said, there is a lot of "bust" potential with this system as well, more on that in our discussion below.


The SPC has outlined a Slight Risk (level 2/5) for severe weather, however, an Enhanced Risk (level 3/5) is in place just to the south of our coverage area at the IN/MI and OH/MI borders. Click on each image below to see more detail.




Discussion:

Part 1 - Today's Tornado Risk

This aforementioned Enhanced Risk area (shaded in orange on the Severe Weather Outlook map) is driven by a 10% SIGTOR risk (in the yellow shaded region that is overlayed by black hatch marks on the Tornado Outlook map), or in plain language; "a 10% risk for a tornado within 25 miles of any given point AND a 10% risk for that tornado to be significant (EF-2 intensity or greater)."



While not necessarily immediately likely, I think that there is at least some chance that we could see this risk continue to expand north as the day goes on. Of course, we'll leave that decision to the professionals at the SPC but the bottom line is that there is an environment favorable for tornadoes and perhaps a significant tornado very close to our southern counties, and at least a somewhat favorable environment for tornadoes across the rest of the area in the 2% and 5% regions of the Tornado Outlook.


Before we move to the threat of damaging wind gusts and large hail, to potentially very large hail, I want to reflect on this Tornado Risk a little bit further and focus on an analog event that occurred on February 27th of this year. We had two tornadoes occur in lower Michigan, one rated high-end EF-1 in our coverage area in a 2% tornado risk. Not saying that this will happen again today but we need to take every risk for tornadoes seriously, and this risk today is one that is especially worth watching very closely particularly within the 5% risk today south of the I-96 corridor.


Part 2 - Damaging Wind Gust and Large to Very Large Hail Risk

Aside from the tornado risk for today there is also a threat for damaging wind gusts of 60-70 MPH and large to very large hail of 1-2 inches in diameter.


These risks will also be maximized along and south of I-96, and especially along and south of the I-94 corridor across our southern counties.


The SPC has outlined 15% risk areas for both damaging wind gusts and large hail in these areas with a further 15% SIGHAIL (or in plain language: "a 15% risk for large hail - one inch diameter or greater - within 25 Miles of a given point AND a 10% risk for that large hail to exceed 2 inches in diameter.



Part 3 - "Bust" Potential

Alright, now for a caveat: we've been monitoring this system for a very long time at this point and we've always highlighted the chance for this event to "bust" (or to not occur in the way we expect it to... or at all?)


Rain showers, remenants of yesterdays High Risk (level 5/5) across parts of Oklahoma and southern Kansas, has just entered Illinois and will continue to track northeast towards West Michigan and will begin impacting the area shortly after 11:00 AM. No severe weather is expected with this line of showers.


The effect that these rain showers will have on the environment however, may act to hamper the potential for severe weather later this afternoon and we'll need to closely monitor radar trends, computer weather model guidance, and surface observations very closely later this morning and into the afternoon hours.


Storm Chasing Operations


At this stage, we are definetly planning to activate storm chase mode and are currently planning to target southern lower Michigan (US-131/I-94 area) and reassess potential options from there. We expect to be live around or just before dinner time should the current forecast remain on track.


Links to said live stream can be found here on our website.

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