Damaging wind event possible Thursday night

The atmosphere has become increasingly unstable Thursday afternoon.  Couple that with a weak warm front draped across Minnesota and temperatures that have risen into the low 90s in spots, and the scene is set for some severe weather.

The most likely scenario is for scattered thunderstorms to  continue to develop this evening.  Some will be strong and a few could be severe. Meanwhile, a more potent weather-maker is beginning to develop in the eastern Dakotas and northwestern Minnesota.  That is where a northeast-southwest line of strong thunderstorms is beginning to develop.  Those storms will continue to grow and begin to spread across Minnesota this evening.

After this squall line forms, it should accelerate to the east and southeast across Minnesota during the evening and overnight hours.  These lines bow out so they often are referred to as “bow echos” for how they appear on radar.  They will continue to grow as they feed off an increasing southerly low level jet.

Low level southerly jet at 1 a.m. tonight

The storm prediction center has issued an Enhanced Thunderstorm Risk to indicate the most likely area for thunderstorms between 11 p.m. tonight and 7 a.m. Friday.

There is a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms for much of central and southern Minnesota into western Wisconsin after 11 p.m. tonight

As this forecasted line of thunderstorms rolls through, many locations are likely to experience wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph in open areas.  Hail is possible, as well.

All the pieces have to come together and the timing is unsure, but tonight could get rowdy.

As I look farther ahead, Friday and Saturday both have the opportunity to be repeats of today with increasing storms in the afternoon, evening and overnight.

Here is the severe weather outlook for the 24 hours ending at 7 a.m. Sunday from the Storm Prediction Center:

Severe weather outlook 7 a.m. Saturday until 7 a.m. Sunday

More showers and storms are likely on Sunday but the risk for severe weather will decrease.  Repeated rains could cause some flooding, however.

Currently, strong thunderstorms are building over east central Minnesota north of the metro and are moving to the east. Severe Thunderstorm Warnings have been issued based mainly on radar.

MSP radar at 6:00 p.m. (Source:NWS/Wunderground)