We often talk about troughing and ridging across the country. If you aren’t familiar with these weather terms then simply imagine a see-saw where one side is up and the other side stays down. Obviously, there is more science that goes into that that but that is what it looks like on a map.
See below. The trough is a dip in the jet stream. The jet stream traps colder air farther north through the summer-time months. Through the fall and winter the jet stream digs a little farther south allowing cool (sometimes arctic air) air to dive south. That is what the case is for almost all of the west at the moment. On the contrary, the high pressure has been the warming feature across the east ushering in warm air out of the south and compressing the lower levels of the atmosphere allowing temperatures to really heat up at the surface.
It isn’t often that we get a big pattern bringing such a variety of temps across the country from west to east; however, transition seasons (aka fall and spring) are more well known to yield big temperature swings and sometimes big severe weather events.
The Fall season is known as a secondary severe weather season, right behind Spring of course, and it is wise to start thinking ahead now to make sure you and your family know what to do in the event of severe weather.
Severe weather includes storms capable of producing damaging, straight-line winds along with the threat for hail and tornadoes.
The current trough digging across the central plains doesn’t have all the upper-air ingredients to spark off any widespread severe weather. Only a few showers and storms expected the next couple of days with the main threat being some gusty outflow winds; however, this system is a further sign that the seasons are indeed changing and the collision course of opposing air masses and upper-level energy isn’t far off from becoming a reality we will be dealing with in the lower 48 over the next few months. Although severe weather can happen at any time, October and November tend to be peak times where we have seen our worst tornado outbreaks here in the US.
Being winter prepared is necessary but often time people forget about staying severe weather ready leading into the fall season.
So don’t be THAT person this year and REMEMBER to have this conversation with your kids about what to do IF severe weather strikes your area.
A Few Tips:
1. NOAA weather radios are available almost anywhere. GET ONE! Its worth every penny. It can alert you anytime day or night
2. Keep a box with supplies in it that you can grab to cover your head or protect yourself from flying debris (bike helmets are great tool , especially for kids)
3. Pick a spot in your house that is the safest. Anything underground (such as a basement is always best choice) but if you don’t have a basement then choose the interior most portion of your home on the lowest level.
Your local National Weather Service office is always available to help you become more “Storm Ready”. There are also programs you can participate in to become more active in helping your community become a storm ready community. Visit this link for all those details and more—-> http://www.weather.gov/stormready/become