This week's storm chasing tour is starting out with a trip west from Oklahoma City. Fast westerly and north westerly winds aloft this afternoon over West Texas and Eastern New Mexico will provide support for potentially severe storms. While originally it looked like we would definitely be chasing in an area near and west of Fort Stockton, TX, the latest data coming in right now has actually increased the amont of moisture closer to Amarillo and Lubbock, TX. This moisture along with easterly winds rotating around a high pressure center near Wichita, KS could provide a secondary target area for us, which is good because we may not have to drive as far today! We're keeping an eye on the trends as we're traveling west on I-40 and right now we're leaning toward the more northern target near Amarillo and Lubbock because we think the models are underestimating the amount of moisture that will be allowed into that region this afternoon.
The satellite picture has been on our computer screens this morning too because it's revealing where storms may set up later on today. The previously more favorable target near Fort Stockton in far West Texas on I-10 looks a bit dismal at the moment because of the showers and clouds currently over that area. This may act to inhibit surface heating and the building of instability this afternoon for storm development. There are some storms in Eastern New Mexico, but those may actually help to moisten up the atmosphere closer to where you see the favorable clear slot in the clouds near Amarillo and Lubbock.
The Storm Prediction Center has a Slight Risk area for severe weather over extreme West Texas and the eastern half of New Mexico for this afternoon. This outlook came out before the latest data showing the favorability in conditions near Amarillo and Lubbock did, so some northward changes may be made in the outlook that will come out at 11:30am CDT. Overall, the (small) tornado threat today highly depends on how much moisture we can get into the area so that cloud bases are low enough along with how much low-level shear sets up.