A tornado watch has been issued for parts of Central Texas until 8 PM
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A tornado watch has been issued for Coryell, Bosque, and Bell Counties eastward in Central Texas through 8 PM. While there is a threat for tornadoes, there is also a threat for strong wind gusts and hail too.
Friday’s severe weather risk outlook
Nearly all of Central Texas is under at least a level ‘2′ severe weather risk with cities and towns east of Highway 281 falling into the level ‘3′ enhanced category. Since 2014, when the Storm Prediction Center started using a five category scale to determine the severe weather risk outlook, Central Texas has not been under a level 3, 4, or 5 severe weather risk in November.
The main concern with Friday’s storms stems from strong straight-line wind gusts along an arriving cold front. Wind gusts within the strongest thunderstorms along the front may gust between 60 and 65 MPH with isolated higher gusts. The overall wind gust risk is either at a level ‘1′ along and west of Highway 281 or between a level “2′ and a level ‘3′ near and east of I-35.
The other major concern is the potential for a few tornadoes. The tornado potential is likely going to be highest in North Texas and Northeast Texas, out of our area, but the eastern half of our area from I-35 eastward is under a level ‘3″ enhanced tornado potential. The Storm Prediction Center has included all cities in towns in our area under a level ‘3′ risk in what’s called the ‘hatched’ area. A hatched area means there’s the potential for “significant severe weather”. For tornadoes, a significant severe weather risk means there’s a higher chance for EF-2 tornadoes or stronger.
As far as hail goes, all storms may contain hail but large hail, potentially nearing golf-ball size on an isolated basis, will be confined to any thunderstorms that manage to form well in advance of the approaching front. The isolated early-to-mid afternoon storms will bring us either a level ‘1′ or level ‘2′ hail threat depending on where you live.
Two rounds of storms bring us severe storm chances
We’re confident that there will be two separate risks of strong thunderstorms today but there’s still some question marks about whether or not the second round of storms, arriving with a cold front, will already have formed by the time they move in or if they’ll just start to form as the front pushes from west-to-east.
Scattered morning showers moving from south to north could potentially contain some brief downpours and maybe even a few rumbles of thunder, but the severe weather chances remain very low until around noon. The isolated-to-scattered morning showers will start to get a foothold in our area and should strengthen around or shortly after lunch time near and east of I-35. As long as storms remain fairly isolated and not fighting one another to become dominant, large hail, gusty winds, and tornadoes are the main threat. If storms cluster up then the overall severe weather risk could be a bit more limited. Regardless, don’t sleep on the afternoon scattered storms because all it takes is one storm within a cluster to strengthen to produce severe weather.
As scattered storms move through in the afternoon, our approaching cold front will eventually spark a growing line of thunderstorms as it enters into our area. The most likely timeframe for storms to form with the front is between 3 PM and 5 PM. The line of storms will carry a tornado and wind gust risk, but the hail risk will likely be lower. Storms should approach I-35 close to or after the evening rush hour and then surge across I-35 before crossing over I-45 between 9 PM and 11 PM. The speed of the front is mostly locked in at this point with storms likely clearing I-35 between 6 PM and 8 PM. A slower arriving front could also keep rain and storms around our eastern most cities and towns near I-45 and in the Brazos Valley until 11 PM, but the majority of our area will be dry by 9 PM.
No drought-busting rain to be seen locally
The latest drought monitor, updated Thursday, is almost entirely unchanged from last week’s despite last Friday’s rainfall being counted into Thursday’s update. Given that storms may only impact about the eastern two-thirds of our area, we’re not expecting Friday’s storms to make a serious impact on the ongoing drought.
Rainfall totals increase from west-to-east since most of Friday’s storms will impact cities and towns east of Highway 281. Rainfall totals could potentially only approach a quarter-inch in Hamilton, Mills, and San Saba County, but higher totals, between a half-inch and one inch, are expected farther east. The most likely location for 1″+ rainfall totals will be east of I-35 since storms along the front will be more mature by the time they reach that point. Localized flooding issues could creep up, but the flash flooding threat is quite limited.
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