An unseasonably warm and humid airmass is in place across Texas today, which along with some modest instability will fuel the potential for rain showers and possibly a thunderstorm or two across North Texas and the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metro Area from this afternoon through tonight and Thursday morning. Currently a large trough of low pressure is located over the Rockies and slowly moving eastward, while at the surface a cold front has stalled near the Texas/Oklahoma border, as seen in the image below (source: NOAA).
The stationary front represents a sharp boundary with temperatures this morning near 70 in Dallas, while temperatures are in the mid 30s in Oklahoma. The stationary front will be the main focal point for thunderstorm development this afternoon and evening across Eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas, but we could see isolated thunderstorms south toward Dallas as well.
The next image shows model-projected CAPE values for this afternoon, which stands for “Convective Available Potential Energy”, and is a tool used to measure instability in the atmosphere. As we can see, the atmosphere will be moderately unstable across much of Texas this afternoon (image source: tropicaltidbits.com).
The main limiting factor for thunderstorms will be mid level moisture resulting in cloud cover with a capping inversion layer expected, as well as general lack of “forcing” compared to farther north along the stationary front. However, there will remain a chance for some isolated thunderstorms this afternoon for Dallas-Ft. Worth, and a rogue severe storm can’t be ruled out either as there will be some wind shear present in the atmosphere (which can support rotating supercell thunderstorms).
Overnight tonight, the cold front will finally kick into motion and push southward across the area. We could see a line of showers and thunderstorms develop across North Texas between approximately 11pm-4am. The image below shows the HRRR-model projected radar, showing strong thunderstorms across Central Texas, even extending as far south as Austin and San Antonio (image source: weathermodels.com).
Keep in mind, this is only one model’s projection. Other models are keeping the stronger thunderstorms north of the Dallas-Ft. Worth area overnight, so there is quite a bit of uncertainty. Nevertheless, the potential exists for a round of thunderstorms late tonight, some of which could become strong or severe. Tornado potential appears to be low, but can’t entirely be ruled out either, so it would be wise to keep a weather alert handy overnight.
By Thursday morning, the thunderstorm threat should clear out, and instead North Texas will experience a significant drop in temperatures behind the cold front, to remind us that it’s still early February. Early morning temperatures in the low 60s in Dallas will fall into the 40s by late afternoon, and into the 20s by Friday morning.