November 16, 2003 - Posted at 3:31 p.m. CDT, updated at 7:42 a.m. CDT, updated at 4:03 p.m. 11/17/03
MEMPHIS, TN - Meteorologists and weather watchers across the Mid-South are gearing up for a possible long night this evening. "I think Monday night and Tuesday, I think, is going to be like the 'cat's meow' in terms of a meteorologist's dream," said warning coordination meteorologist Scott Cordero of the National Weather Service.
According to the National Weather Service's Memphis bureau, the big event is a developing storm system approaching the Mid-South Monday night and Tuesday morning from the southern plains. "This storm system is quite vigorous with a strong upper level jet...ample gulf moisture...and a potent surface cold front," reads a statement from the NWS released Sunday afternoon through the Associated Press. "Gulf moisture will rapidly move northward from the Gulf Coast into the Mid-South ahead of the storm system tonight (Sunday) and Monday. By Monday night, showers and thunderstorms will become numerous, with the potential for severe thunderstorms and excessive rain in some areas through Tuesday morning."
The threat for severe weather throughout the Mid-South will extend from 10 o'clock Monday evening to 10 a.m. Tuesday. The threat is expected to begin around 10 p.m. Monday for eastern Arkansas and the Missouri Bootheel and shift eastward through the night. According to the NWS, at this time, the primary threat appears to be damaging straight-line winds and hail. Isolated tornadic activity will also be possible. K8 meteorologist Shane Carter says he anticipates most of the severe weather to strike locally around 8 or 9 p.m.
This threat is so severe that the Memphis bureau of the National Weather Service scheduled a news conference for this afternoon. "That's pretty rare for them to do that," said K8 meteorologist Spencer Denton. "The confidence level right now for tornadoes is at the moderate level, but my confidence is very high that some of those thunderstorms are going to produce wind gusts in excess of 100 miles per hour and will produce some hail," said Cordero.
"This is actually considered the second severe weather season of the year for the Mid-South," said Denton. The more commonly known severe weather season occurs during the spring months. As for the second, "It generally starts in late October and continues through the first of December. You've got all the clashing air masses of warm and cold air that come with the change of the seasons."