On 2/15/16, there appears to be some potential for severe weather over southern Mississippi and southwestern Alabama, with the activity possibly including eastern and southern Louisiana and into the western Florida panhandle. At this time, the SPC has the area roughly from New Orleans eastward to Pensacola, Florida and northward to Hattiesburg, Mississippi included in a Slight risk for severe weather. At this time, (the day before) the threat does not look as substantial as Groundhog Day did, where there were a few strong tornadoes across eastern Mississippi and western Alabama. However, that does not mean folks in these areas should let their guard down. Before I go further into forecasts, I will say that I would not be surprised to see a couple tornadoes in this area tomorrow.
Much still remains to be seen with this system, and like many cold-season severe events, makes a tough forecast. There is still considerable model spread at this point, with the evolution of a central and eastern US trough and associated cyclogenesis and warm air advection. The NAM, as usual, is the most aggressive with instability and overall severe threat. However, the NAM has done fairly well as of late, and needs to be considered. If the NAM pans out, there could easily be a few tornadoes tomorrow. Once the HRRR comes into play here, we will start to get a better idea of what will happen tomorrow.
The above picture shows the STP values for 3 pm Monday from the 4km NAM model. While these values are not off the charts, and do not show too much potential for strong tornadoes, a couple tornadoes are possible.
This is a forecast sounding from near Meridian, Mississippi around 3 pm Monday. The CAPE is likely overdone, but the shear profiles are there for tornadoes. Lapse rates will be sufficient for organized storms. It appears that the main threat in Mississippi may be further south of Meridian, from Hattiesburg southward. Analysis of the forecast reflectivity and updraft helicity tracks shows potential for both supercells and QLCS structures. I won’t be chasing, but if I lived in the area, I would keep an eye on the sky.
All in all, I would be surprised if this goes higher than a Slight Risk. Even if this were to validate on the higher end of the forecast, (NAM) I doubt we would see an outbreak. With that said, at this point I believe there is a pretty good possibility that there will be 1+ tornado, and it’s possible we see 4+. I think a good number right now is 3 tornadoes.