Yesterday, March 30, 2016, a relatively strong low pressure trough progressed eastward through Kansas and Missouri. This low (L) spawned tornadoes and hail storms in southeast Kansas, near Tulsa, Oklahoma, along with several night time tornadoes in Arkansas.
The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issued a tornado outlook with emphasis on southeast Texas and Louisiana. Conditions favorable for yesterday’s tornadoes included a fairly deep advancing low pressure trough colliding with warm moist surface air. The trough pressed the boundary of a substantial cold front into Kansas, and that boundary extended down through parts of Oklahoma, and Texas.
Yesterday, there was a fairly strong-cold jet flow at 300mb (coupled with increasing dew points to the mid 60s) contained in surface winds that were drawing air from the southeast, ahead of the advancing cold front and dry line boundaries. This triple point threat area initiated a number of strong thunder storms in the late afternoon hours, several of which grew into discrete rotating supercells. A brief supercell south of Wichita, Kansas, produced a tornado, and another larger supercell formed near Blackwell, Oklahoma, and advanced southeastward producing a number of strong tornadoes approaching Tulsa in the early evening hours. A separate eastward moving jet flow streatching across the Gulf of Mexico, acted to inhibit additional moist air from moving up into Texas and Oklahoma. This separate gulf jet flow likely reduced the number and severity of tornadoes that could have otherwise occurred in southeast Texas and Louisiana last night.
While the primary advancing low pressure system produced strong thunderstorms on the eastern edge of the trough, on the back side of the trough, to the west in Colorado, the system drew cold air down from the north, and produced high winds, and brief snow storms along Colorado’s foothills and eastern plains.
Today, the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issued a potential tornado and severe weather outlook for Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and parts of Indiana, as well, Yesterday’s short lived severe storm outbreak marked the early entrance of springtime severe weather threats, including tornadoes, that will likely continue to strengthen in the months of April and May of 2016.