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A Few Intense, Low-Topped Supercells Possible in Northern Illinois Thursday Evening

Another year, another legitimate chance for February tornadoes in Illinois.

It's relatively cold out there today compared to the severe weather setups that'll traverse the Midwest later in the spring and summer months, but make no mistake, this is not a cold core severe weather setup.

Instead, we've got an area of low pressure well to the north over the Upper Midwest with 100 knots of southwesterly flow at H5 blasting into the Mid-Mississippi Valley on Thursday morning. The result will be strong southerly near-surface flow that will pump warm and humid air into the Midwest with afternoon high temperatures around 60 degrees F and dew points perhaps approaching 50 deg F across northern Illinois by mid-afternoon on Thursday. Beneath increasingly cold temperatures in the mid-levels the presence of just-enough low-level instability packed into the lowest 10,000 meters should lead to a few thunderstorms developing along an approaching cold front this afternoon.

Wind profiles will favor organization with any storms that do manage to develop, with a couple of low-topped supercells possible. Again, if the many, many conditions laid out today (surrounding enough sunshine, enough moisture, mostly) are met, it's possible one or two of these storms could produce a brief tornado, wind gusts to 60 MPH, and hail up to 1" in diameter.

At the very least, conditions today should favor some crisp convection with beautiful blue skies across the target area which would be a treat for any storm-deprived soul that decides to roam the marginal risk area. Seems to me it would be a fine afternoon to sit along the Interstate 39 corridor in north-central Illinois.

I'm speaking on high impact weather at a winter ag meeting in Champaign, IL this afternoon and will not be partaking in any of the early season storm observation opportunities across the northern half of my state this afternoon. It's totally fine, I'm fine.

At least we'll have a fun current weather event to check in on from the conference!

Good luck to all who venture out.


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