It's been a very abnormal February to say the least, with a record breaking string of days in the 50's, 60's, and briefly hitting 70°. We have the potential to make it into the upper 50's and low 60's this afternoon, but with the spring-like warmth comes spring-like thunderstorms.
While a few scattered showers and a rumble of thunder or two is possible through the early and mid afternoon, we're watching the late afternoon for strong to severe potential. Right now we have a lot of ingredients in place, but they all have to come together.
The timing will be a little after 3pm into the evening, around 11pm. With storms developing west in Missouri and Arkansas and then moving quickly northeast.
All severe harzards are possible in storms today, however northern Illniois and southern Wisconsin has the highest potential for large hail, strong winds, and heavy rain. We can't rule out the threat of a tornado this evening, however it is not that primary threat.
The threat for strong tornadoes lies in southern and central Illinois, where the Storm Prediction Center has upgraded that area to a Moderate Risk for severe storms. This is where the highest potential is for severe level hail, damaging winds, strong tornadoes, and heavy rain. Along with areas in the enhanced risk, though not as highly favored.
Storms will develop today near an area of low pressure and its warm front. Some storm development will be favored near the front, so we want to watch this area and how far north it travels. The farther north it goes, the farther north the severe threat goes as well.
With this type of set up you have winds changing directions quickly with respect to height, along with increasing moisture and instability. Which are currently forecast at late-spring like levels, even though we are currently at the last day of February.
Southerly winds today will usher in dew points into the mid 50's and even close to the low 60's through the afternoon. This will begin to generate instability, along with northward advecting warm air. One limiting factor though could be thick cloud cover over the region, this can typically limit the amount of instability that can be generated.
It's best to have a severe weather preparation plan, and while it is February severe weather can still happen. You also want to be mindful this evening, with storms also possible after dark tonight. Have a way to receive and warnings should they be issued!
Again we'll want to watch for strong to potentially severe thunderstorms in the late afternoon and evening, capable
of producing large hail, heavy rain, strong winds, with an isolated tornado possible.