Saturday, May 5, 2012

A tricky Saturday forecast

Meteorologists are having a tough time getting a handle on what will happen Saturday afternoon and evening in the Charlotte area, and it has a little more importance than usual, with about 35,000 people outdoors at Quail Hollow Club for the Wells Fargo Championship.

The bottom line is that forecasters are expecting thunderstorms to develop at some point in the afternoon, but there are several moving pieces to the weather situation, and we could wind up with absolutely nothing happening.

One piece of the puzzle are the remnants of a thunderstorm cluster that moved into northwest North Carolina early Saturday from Kentucky and Tennessee. Those storms died out, but the outflow boundaries -- the unsettled air at the end of the storms -- has pushed into the Carolinas Piedmont. Those outflow boundaries often are a trigger for storms.

And that outflow boundary is expected to cross the Charlotte area early Saturday afternoon.

Another piece of the puzzle is a weak low pressure system, expected to move across the region a bit later in the afternoon. With an unstable atmosphere today, such a system could serve as the trigger for storms.

Meteorologists at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., have part of the Charlotte area in the "Slight Risk" zone for severe thunderstorms today. That zone includes the immediate Charlotte area and points east and south. In other words, we're talking about Mecklenburg, Union, Stanly, Anson and Richmond counties of North Carolina, and all of South Carolina.

But nothing had developed, as of late Saturday morning, and it's possible the afternoon will remain  storm-less.

However, if you're at the Quail Hollow Club, or if you're planning any other kind of outdoor activity today, be forewarned ... the risk of strong thunderstorms is there.

Sunday, by the way, should be much calmer.