Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, possible in the FLX today

finger lakes weather forecast wednesday july 10 2024 severe thunderstorms tornadoes
With severe thunderstorms, including tornadoes, possible today, it is important to take a couple minutes to understand the details, nuances, and uncertainties for today’s weather. [Photo by Coleen Osborne Foley]

Rare Severe Weather Setup

A unique severe weather setup is unfolding across the Finger Lakes today, bringing one of the higher chances for tornadoes than the region has seen over the last couple of decades.

It is important to note right from the start, though, that just because the potential exists does not necessarily mean it will be realized.

One final note before we get into today’s forecast, especially for those who may be reading my work for the first time:

I am an independent meteorologist and business owner here in the Finger Lakes. My forecasts are my own, not a computer’s. I do not hype the weather but try to educate and explain the different scenarios that are possible. I answer every question that people send me and aim to help individuals with their specific needs.

My work is made possible by my generous donors who have found my work beneficial enough to support me financially. Many of my monthly donors have been giving for years. I tremendously appreciate their support and would literally not be able to do this without them. With rising costs, additional donor support is needed and appreciated. You can find a donation link at the bottom of the post, or you can visit flxweather.com/donate.

Let’s dive into the setup, uncertainties, and what it all means for you.

finger lakes weather forecast wednesday july 10 2024 spc thunderstorm outlook
In their overnight outlook, the Storm Prediction Center has highlighted much of the FLX for an enhanced risk for severe weather, driven by the tornado risk. In the 9 AM Update, this area was expanded. I will update the graphic soon. This outlook will be updated again at 12:30 PM. Click to enlarge.

Severe Weather Set Up

An area of low pressure associated with the remains of ex-Hurricane Beryl is lifting northeast toward our region, pushing a warm front through the area this morning.

So far, rain and thunderstorms associated with the front are staying west of the area and skies will clear from south to north during the morning hours.

A tropical air mass will settle in with oppressive humidity and copious amounts of atmospheric moisture. At points this afternoon, the moisture in the atmosphere may be in a 99th percentile, meaning this is a rarely seen, almost record level of moisture.

Temperatures will easily reach the mid and upper 80s this afternoon, combining with the humidity to produce more than enough fuel for thunderstorm development.

Strong wind fields in the low and mid levels of the atmosphere will enhance the severe risk by organizing storms and producing spin, which could result in tornadoes.

The Storm Prediction Center, with their overnight update, has placed much of the Finger Lakes in a 10% tornado zone. This means that there is a 1-in-10 chance for a tornado within 25 miles of any given point in the risk zone.

I am aware of only 2 other instances of a 10% or higher probability for tornadoes in our area since 2003.

The overlap of strong wind fields, large amounts of fuel, a strong nearby low, the close proximity of the warm front, and the near record amounts of moisture make this a special set up not quite like anything we have seen in some time.

Uncertainties

However, there are still several sources of uncertainty that could mitigate some of this potent set up.

First, the most recent hourly updating models are carrying the warm front further north. This has the dual effect of reducing the forcing mechanisms needed to develop initial storms and reducing slightly the wind fields especially primed for tornado development.

The more the wind fields and large amounts of fuel are decoupled, the lower the tornado risk will be.

A related uncertainty will be the timing of the storms and their initial development. Late in the afternoon, it is highly likely that a line of strong to severe storms will move through the region.

However, the greater tornado threat will come in any individual “supercell” thunderstorms that can develop ahead of this line. Models are mixed on this happening, with some bringing several rounds of supercells started as early as the late morning, while others do not have any of these developing.

Lastly, there is an inherent uncertainty in forecasting severe thunderstorms and especially tornadoes. This area of meteorology is constantly undergoing massive amounts of research in an attempt to crack the code of tornadoes. There is still so much to learn.

I have seen even better setups primed for tornadoes elsewhere in the nation fizzle to produce almost nothing. I have seen less ideal setups, even locally, produce a surprising amount of severe weather and tornadoes. There is still so much mystery in this area, there is a limit to how confident a forecast of this nature can be until the storms themselves are actually rumbling across the landscape.

While other weather sources will skip this uncertainty and just highlight the tornado risk, I want you to understand the nuances and limitations of modern weather forecasting, and not be drawn into hype and fear mongering but to be able to approach the weather with a sensible, educated approach.

How Today’s Weather May Impact You

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty as best we can to help you plan your day and stay safe today.

As I outlined above, the timing of the storm is uncertain, but this event could start as early as the late morning hours. The greatest chance for widespread storms will be in the late afternoon, roughly in the 4-7 PM window.

Tornadoes, damaging winds, and continuous lightning are the greatest risks. The atmosphere is not set up well for hail, though some cannot be totally ruled out if isolated supercell storms develop this afternoon.

Any storms will also produce torrential downpours, which could lead to some localized flooding. The heavy rain rates will also make driving difficult.

A tornado watch will likely be issued this afternoon. A tornado watch is issued for several hours over a large area to highlight an area where severe thunderstorms and tornadoes will be possible.

A tornado warning, on the other hand, is issued for a short time over a small area to address an individual thunderstorm that either radar is indicating may have a tornado or has had a tornado reported. I would not be surprised to see several tornado warnings issued today.

Tornado warnings are serious and immediate action should be taken for protection, ideally heading into an interior basement room.

Severe thunderstorm warnings should also be taken seriously, as tornadoes can and sometimes do form with little warning from severe thunderstorms. Additionally, microbursts can produce damaging winds equal to weak tornadoes and can be deadly. After all, it does not matter much if the winds are rotating or coming in a straight line.

As I stressed yesterday, even with a heightened severe weather risk, the vast majority of individual locations across the region will probably not see severe weather. But it will be important to be aware of the weather and to take warnings seriously, as there may well be a few areas that get hit particularly hard with dangerous weather.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast wed jul 10 | wed, afternoon severe storms mid 80 | thur, scattered showers upper 70 | fri, sun and a few clouds low 80 | sat, maybe a few showers mid 80 | sun, sun and a few clouds upper 80 | mon, scattered showers, storms mid 80 | tues, scattered showers mid 80
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Plans for Additional Updates

Typically, during severe weather events, I set up a live blog here on flxweather.com and frequently post updates, analysis, the latest warnings, and radar shots. I plan to do so again this afternoon.

I will probably start the live blog when I see threatening storms starting to develop, or when the Storm Prediction Center is getting ready to issue the tornado watch.

Last time I ran a live blog, the initial influx of traffic to my website made it difficult for some people to connect. If this happens again, please be patient and try to connect again later.

The best way to know when I post the live blog is to sign up for email alerts of my posts at flxweather.com/email. I especially discourage relying on Facebook to bring you timely information due to its unreliable feed algorithm!

Quick Look Beyond Today

The severe weather threat will not last long after sunset, if it does at all. Thunderstorms will quickly move east and a cold front will move through the area.

Scattered showers will remain overnight and into Thursday. Overnight lows will only be in the upper 60s to near 70, but highs Thursday will mainly stick to the upper 70s.

Generally dry weather is expected through the weekend, though a few stray showers may try to sneak in on Saturday. Temperatures will be on the rise again as well.

Some unsettled, stormy weather will be possible during the early and mid parts of next week.

More Information:

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

» Zip Code Forecasts

» Your Forecast

» Get the FLX Weather Mobile App

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast wed jul 10 | wed, afternoon severe storms mid 80 | thur, scattered showers upper 70 | fri, sun and a few clouds low 80 | sat, maybe a few showers mid 80 | sun, sun and a few clouds upper 80 | mon, scattered showers, storms mid 80 | tues, scattered showers mid 80
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.

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Follow Meteorologist Drew Montreuil:
Meteorologist Drew Montreuil has been forecasting the weather in the Finger Lakes region since 2006 and has degrees in meteorology from SUNY Oswego (B.S. with Honors) and Cornell (M.S.). Drew and his wife have four young boys. When not working or playing with the boys, he is probably out for a run through the countryside.

9 Responses

  1. Sharon Holbert
    | Reply

    Today is the perfect day to say I LOVE your forecasts. As a scientist I so appreciate the balanced approach to the data. I think the healthy respect of the potential without the fearmongering inherent in other weather forecasting is needed in other parts of our society as well!!! The news… sports… you get my drift. Once again, thank you.

  2. Mary
    | Reply

    Thanks as always for your great reporting, Drew!

  3. Thomas Pritchard
    | Reply

    Hi Drew! In looking at the current radar (08:57) it appears that the bulk of the weather has gone well north of the FLX. I see a disturbance that’s sitting near Chicago…is that the one that will fuel our stormy weather here? Thanks!

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      | Reply

      That is the parent low, yeah… but there may actually be a secondary low developing along the junction of the warm and cold fronts over our area later today. There may also be subtle perturbations (outflow from thunderstorms, small troughs of lower pressure, wind shifts) that could help trigger the storms. Often enough, I see thunderstorms develop in these high moisture-high energy atmospheres where I cannot identify what the triggering mechanism is.

  4. Scotty
    | Reply

    I was a combat meteorologist for the Air Force for 14 years, and I worked everywhere from Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, Colorado, Alaska, Iraq, Afghanistan, and finally in Rome, N.Y.. I have NEVER had a harder time figuring out weather development than trying to forecast for the Ithaca area! Central N.Y. has some really challenging orographic lifting issues and so many moisture sources that you have to pick and choose really finitely. I’m still looking forward to today’s weather event just to see how crazy it gets, it should be interesting for sure.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      | Reply

      Thank you for your service, Scotty! Yes, this is certainly a challenging region. I rely heavily on a couple decades of experience knowing how those influences factor in, though it still isn’t easy!

  5. Linda Wyatt
    | Reply

    I was hoping you’d do a live blog again. Thank you for all of your explanations. It is very helpful to have non-hype information. I love weather, but don’t want to either overreact OR take stupid risks.

  6. Jim Kennedy Geneva
    | Reply

    Thank you for this Drew and good luck to you today!

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      | Reply

      Thanks! Probably going to be a busy day for me… but I hope not ultimately!!

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