Severe Storms for Denver Today with Large Hail and Possibly a Weak Tornado or Two

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UPDATE — THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS ISSUED A TORNADO WATCH FOR THE DENVER METRO AREA AND MOST OF THE EASTERN PLAINS UNTIL 9PM. THIS MEANS THAT CONDITIONS ARE RIGHT FOR TORNADOES TO FORM. tornadowatch
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We’re in the heart of Colorado severe weather season and leading up to this point, we’ve been relatively quiet. The occasional severe storm with hail or strong wind has swiped across the metro area before heading out east, but our severe weather seems to be a lot quieter than at this same time last year. Today, however, that looks to change. Denver and the surrounding areas have an Enhanced risk of thunderstorms today as put out by the Storm Prediction Center. This is something that generally only happens once or twice per year in Denver and is generally a good indication that we are in for some intense weather.

Enhanced

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Timing and Risks

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A line of storms has already developed to the south and west of Denver along the foothills and looks to be growing to the north. We’re going to start seeing storms develop around Denver and they’ll really pick up in intensity around noon.

Currently, it’s looking like the most significant storms will come through the area around noon and will be followed by a secondary push around 4pm after which storms will continue through tonight. The area at highest risk for damage from the storms is southeastern of Denver in areas like Highlands Ranch, Parker, Centennial, and extreme southeastern Aurora.

The atmosphere has plenty of moisture at the mid to upper levels which means that our most significant threat will be large hail. The latest models show that we lack a lot of the lower level shear (rotation from wind) to support intense tornadoes, however, we will have a southeasterly component to our wind which means that the Denver Convergence Vorticity Zone (DCVZ), which is an area where winds of opposing directions create rotation, will exist to the east of Denver. This area that extends northward along the I-25 corridor from Castle Rock to Denver and eastward from Denver to Limon is notorious for spawning weak landspout tornadoes and should be watched closely this afternoon. With that said, hail will be the primary threat followed by possibly strong and damaging winds. The NWS has not issued a tornado watch at this time. Tornadoes should be limited and, based off of current models, will be weak if they develop at all.

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