After storms in Northeast Colorado yesterday became contaminated by storms coming off the Front Range, we decided to head east to be ready for today's chase. After waking up in Ogallala, Nebraska this morning we're rested up for a relatively leisurely day without too much driving since we're already pretty much in our target area for the day. The Storm Prediction Center has a general thunderstorm risk out for Western Nebraska, Northeast Colorado, and Northwest Kansas today with a 5% severe wind risk.
The focus today will be a cold front that's slowly moving through the region today. Winds around this frontal boundary may shift out of the east a little bit and that's where we'll position ourselves since the best shear will be where that happens. Dew points will be in the 60's across Central Nebraska this afternoon with slightly lower readings to the west. These surface winds, while weak, and the moisture should be more than enough to get some storms going.
Winds aloft are a little less certain since they may change throughout the day. Early on this morning winds at 500 mb (18,000 feet) were almost westerly across the western half of Nebraska, but already we've seen a shift to the southwest. While not terribly strong, the winds up there could have just enough punch to get storms to become severe. Small embedded shortwaves within the flow may enhance these winds a bit in some areas too. By 6pm MDT tonight the RAP model (right) still has these winds out of the southwest aloft, so that's some good news. The thinking at this point is that the shear won't be high enough to keep storms from merging together and being clustered, but we'll see how that plays out.