Severe storms possible on Saturday

Posted at 8:45 AM, Jan 07, 2020

A very active looking weather pattern is starting to take shape, and while we're still about five days out, severe weather Saturday morning is looking more and more likely as we receive more model data.

There's still a lot of questions and finer talking points that will get figured out over the coming days so keep that in mind as you read the forecast that this isn't the final say on the matter.

Before we get into the heart of the forecast I think it's worth a quick refresher on some of the terminology and things to look for on Saturday, especially since we're getting into the thick of severe weather season here in south Louisiana.

A lot is going to be made of specific "risk areas" and you'll hear us say things such as "slight risk" or "enhanced risk" in talking about chances of severe weather's in certain areas.

An easy way to think about this is on a scale of 1-5 with "Marginal" (1) being the lowest and "High" (5) being the highest, these are designated by the Storm Prediction Center and are typically issued three days ahead of an event (longer if confidence is higher or is a higher end event).

The outlooks are issued ahead of an approaching active day, once the weather actually arrives we switch to different terms to describe what is going on in a particular area. This is when we switch to talking about "watches" and "warnings".

During the last event I had a few messages asking to explain what those phrases mean so decided now would be a good time for a quick review of the two terms and why they are important.

A watch is issued hours before the event arrives, it simply means to watch out for possible severe weather during the day because the conditions are in place for either a severe storm or tornado; i.e. a Tornado Watch means conditions are possible for storms to produce tornadoes, not that there actually is one.

That is reserved for a warning, which means that an event it either imminent or is already occurring and requires those under the warning to take action (such as seeking shelter); there is a higher designation above a warning known as a "Tornado Emergency" these are exceedingly rare.

If a warning is issued for your area the proper protocol is to seek shelter immediately, this means an interior room away from windows on the lowest floor of your home and have something to cover your head.

Closets, bathrooms, or under stairwells all make for the safest area inside your home, and if you are seeking shelter you can always stream our coverage of the event on a phone or tablet so that you aren't left without information.

If you don't have a phone or tablet that can stream then turn the television up so that you can hear updates while you're in your safe place.

The Storm Prediction Center currently has Acadiana under a "Slight Risk" for severe weather both Friday and Saturday with areas just outside Acadiana falling under the slightly stronger worded "Enhanced Risk".

It should be mentioned that designating an Enhanced Risk this far ahead of a system is pretty rare and is only done so when confidence is high in an extended forecast, which is usually an indicator of a systems potential for severe weather.

The area that looks the most primed for an outbreak of severe weather will be the Arklatex region, but Acadiana's proximity doesn't mean we can rule out the possibility of severe weather with this front either, so we've been included in the risk zone.

The earliest storms will start to move into the Arklatex around midnight on Saturday with the trailing front pushing the storms into east Texas by daybreak and finally moving the main line through Acadiana sometime Saturday morning.

It's a little early to put an exact time on it but the last few model runs have indicated that the front will move through sometime between 7:00 and 11:00 a.m. The GFS moves it through a little earlier than the EURO, but again we're still 5 days out so still time to get a better handle on the timing of this event.

Both the EURO and GFS are very similar, timing aside which is leading to a growing confidence in the forecast, and both models are hinting that the regions just north of Acadiana will be hit the hardest.

When it comes to types of severe weather it will be strong winds and tornadoes that will be the big threat to keep an eye out for as the set up looks good spin up tornadoes developing along the main line.

A few more stronger, longer lasting tornadoes will be possible in the Arklatex region so if you're traveling up to Shreveport make sure you have a place to receive your weather information.

There will be finer details that emerge over the next several days and the forecast will be tweaked but as of Tuesday it looks likely that we'll have some nasty weather swinging through Saturday morning.

Be sure to stick with KATC through the week to keep up with all the forecast changes.