Late winter severe weather possible Tuesday

Posted at 9:33 AM, Mar 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-15 07:18:51-04

WEST MICHIGAN- (Updated at 7:30 PM for change in Risk Area) -- The first day of spring is Sunday, but spring-like thunderstorms  arrive Tuesday night. It's not necessarily something you'd expect to hear at the beginning of March, but it's a sign that the seasons are transitioning in a hurry.

The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has included most of West Michigan in some sort of potential severe threat for late Tuesday.  Let's break down the categories for those who are unfamiliar with the SPC Outlook products.  Green signifies "marginal" which means the risk for severe weather is extremely limited, but any storms that develop will be on the lower end of the severe weather spectrum (1" diameter hail, 58 mph winds.)  "Slight" means that there's a greater likelihood of an organized line of severe weather, with higher wind gusts and slightly larger hail.

RPM 05

This all stems from a frontal system that will race toward our area during the day on Tuesday.  Later in the afternoon Tuesday, a line of thunderstorms will develop on the other side of the lake shore and continue to race east.

RPM 1 (2)

Daylight hours will remain dry, but shortly after sunset, this line will edge into our area.  Expect to see frequent lightning out over the lake at this time, as the storm moves into the area.

RPM 2 (2)

Just before midnight, this line moves onshore and will deliver very gusty straightline winds, heavy rain, and even possibly some small hail.  This system will race out of here well before dawn, but lingering showers are possible in the early morning hours.

Severe Criteria (1)

While it's our job to prepare you for the worst case scenario in this situation, I want to stress that most areas won't have to deal with severe weather tomorrow!  This will be mostly isolated, and the better opportunities for it will be to the south and west.  Refer to the above SPC map where it highlights "slight" risk.  Areas in that direction will have a few more of the necessary ingredients for severe weather, therefore have the greatest opportunities for it.  That being said...the threat is still extremely low.  Many areas will see very gusty winds of at least 40 mph, heavy rain, and lots of lightning.  We'll keep you posted as this system develops over the next 24 hours.