Yesterday near the Black Hills of South Dakota we saw a few storms develop but they never got organized enough to be good for chasing. One storm in particular had some promise but it just couldn't get strong enough to leave the elevation of the Black Hills where its updraft was rooted. Today we're going north from the Black Hills and moving into North Dakota where there should be a threat for severe storms this afternoon. In particular, areas near and just west of Williston, North Dakota into extreme Eastern Montana appear to be under the greatest threat since a few isolated storms could produce hail, wind, and maybe even an isolated tornado. The Storm Prediction Center only has a general thunderstorm risk for this area but there's a 2% tornado risk included. You'll see the Slight Risk up there in Montana as well in the map to the right, but that area is very remote and the surface winds likely won't cooperate as well for storms like they will in North Dakota.
Winds aloft are forecast to be stronger in our target area today than they were yesterday in South Dakota since the upper-level disturbance over the northwestern part of the country will be moving east a little. When you couple these stronger southwesterly winds aloft with southeasterly winds at the surface that can create some shear for rotating storms. It's worth noting that the best surface winds could be in Canada just north of North Dakota and Montana since an area of low pressure will be spinning winds around from the east there. Since we can't go to Canada, that's obviously out. Dew points in North Dakota are downright soupy this morning and will likely continue to be that way through the afternoon. Having 70 degree dew points right on the Canadian border is something you don't see too often.
With all the warm air and moisture in place, instability will be plentiful for storms. I talked about the threat of isolated tornadoes today on the SPC's outlook and that may very well verify if the instability and shear come together. A great way to combine those two factors is to look at the Energy Helicity Index, which starts getting higher in an isolated spot in Western North Dakota according to the RAP Model. We'll see if it's enough to get some good storms going this afternoon and evening!