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High Plains Severe Weather Season

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We’ve already seen our fair share of severe weather in the central and southern regions of the country, but now it’s the High Plains’ turn.  As temperatures gradually warm farther north the tug-of-war between cold and warm air also retreats to the north.  This helps in the formation of severe weather.

Typically, the High Plains has a drier climate than places like Oklahoma or Texas.  It doesn’t take much moisture to spark a thunderstorm in the summer months in this region.  Severe weather season is typically between late May and late June stretching from Colorado to North Dakota.  The threats includes large hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes.  This region of the country tends to see the days with the most hail storms than any other region in the county.  This area is nicknamed the “Hail Belt” due to how frequently these storms produce hail.  Although this region sees the most days with hail, that doesn’t necessary mean these hail stones are very large.  The larger hail stones tend to fall in the Great Plains region of the country.

Tornadoes are also possible from late May to late June, but typical tend to be weaker tornadoes, known as landspout tornadoes.  The eastern plains of Colorado typically see the most tornadoes in the country, although weak, because of a mechanism called the “Denver Convergent Vorticity Zone” or D.C.V.Z. for short.  This weather feature forms from the interaction of air movement and topography along the Colorado Front Range, basically helping the different levels in the atmosphere spin, known as having wind shear.

Lightning is another threat to keep in mind when spending time outside during the summer months.  Remember, the High Plains is typically drier than places in the south, so dry lighting is possible.  Dry lightning is where we see very little precipitation, yet thunderstorms still produce lightning.  This can also spark wildfires in this dry environment.  If you are caught outside during a storm, it’s important to seek shelter immediately.  The National Weather Service like to say the phrase, “When thunder roars, go indoors!”

For WeatherNation – Josh Cozart

 

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