Tornado-producing storms threaten New York City and DC

By Jennifer Gray, CNN Meteorologist

By tonight, damaging winds, large hail and even tornadoes will blow through the most densely populated region of the country and could wreak havoc on overnight travel.

A meteorologist from the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Washington, DC, said by phone this morning: “In terms of severe weather coverage, today could be the most extensive this season so far. ”.

More than 100 million people will be on target today as a cold front sweeps through areas including New York City, Washington DC, and Philadelphia, just to name a few.

The severe threat has us a bit worried today, to be honest. Tornadoes are not uncommon in these areas, but they are much rarer than what we see in the Southeast and the Plains.

Just last year, multiple tornadoes hit the DC area, and less than two months ago, tornado warnings were issued in the nation’s capital. You might remember the viral video of the DC meteorologist warning his family on live TV as a tornado was approaching them.

More than 28 million people are included in the current highest risk area, which is a level 3 of 5 “increased” risk of severe weather. Philadelphia and Washington, DC are included in today’s highest risk.

New York City, Raleigh and Norfolk are all listed at a “slight” risk of severe weather, which is level 2 of 5.

“Damaging winds appear to be the main threat, but large hail and some tornadoes are possible,” the NWS office in Baltimore/Washington, DC said.

storm timeline

The storms will occur in several rounds today. The first round will be discrete storms that will develop before the main line of storms early this afternoon, anytime between noon and 3 pm Emerging cells may form alone and are not part of a larger line of storms.

“These storms are often the most dangerous and the ones most likely to produce tornadoes, because they can take advantage of the entire environment of the storm and the energy around it,” said CNN Meteorologist Dave Hennen. “Line storms compete with other storms around them, which can take some of the energy and disrupt the winds that can cause a tornado.”

Most NWS offices noted the risk of discrete cells (storms that form on their own) in their forecast discussions this morning, including New York.

“Any inconspicuous cell that gets going could produce large hail or even an isolated tornado,” the NWS New York City office said.

By mid-afternoon, the cold front will move from the Appalachians into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions as the second round of severe weather begins.

“These rounds will only be a couple of hours apart, so the bottom line is that numerous scattered severe storms will impact the area this afternoon through this afternoon from west to east,” the NWS Baltimore/DC office said.

The main line will reach:

  • Washington, D.C. at 2 p.m. ET
  • Philly at 4 p.m. ET
  • New York City at 5 p.m. ET

The severe weather that accompanies the cold front will primarily be a wind threat. “Damaging straight-line winds in excess of 55-60 mph remain the primary threat,” the NWS office in Philadelphia said.

The cold front will also race through major cities during the height of the afternoon. “Anyone planning to travel or be outdoors today should pay close attention to watches and warnings and be ready to seek shelter quickly,” the NWS office in Baltimore/DC said.

With the storms moving quickly, there is only a slight risk of flash flooding, but with the nature of this event and the torrential downpours expected, be on the lookout for possible flash flooding.

“Rain rates are likely to be intense, meaning if any area near or above the urban corridor is affected by multiple rounds, this could lead to flash flooding events,” the NWS Philadelphia office said.

As the front continues to move east, it will slowly weaken. Storms should be pushing offshore during the overnight hours.

Storms are also made possible by the country’s largest wildfire. But they are not likely to bring any relief from the rain.

Wildfires show no signs of slowing down

The Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire is now the largest fire in New Mexico state history and shows no signs of slowing down.

As of Monday morning, the fire has burned 298,060 acres and is 27% contained.

Red flag warnings are in effect again today in the area, meaning conditions could allow the fire to spread further.

“Dry lightning with sudden strong erratic wind shifts from any nearby storms” could lead to rapid spread or shifting of fire lines. Winds from storm outlets could gust to 60 mph, in addition to a Level 1 out of 5 risk of damaging thunderstorm winds with some of the storms. “Any new or ongoing fire will be very difficult to control,” the warning said.

Fire weather watches are also in effect throughout West Texas, where the fire danger will reach a Level 2 of 3 critical range Tuesday afternoon.

Fire weather will only get worse as heat continues to rise across the South this week.

More than 200 daily record high temperatures are forecast to be challenged in the coming days from the Southwest to the East Coast by midweek.

Read more about fires, heat and drought here.

The CNN Wire
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