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While still being a day 5ish event, it is not to early to start looking at some of the possible implications of various models. At this juncture, we generally have the GFS and the Euro book-ending a possibilities window that includes a cutter to Chicago and a more suppressed system that goes East of Hatteras For the most part been consistently left of the GFS ... with its ensembles a tad to the right of the operational Euro (but no where near the GFS). The 12z GFS Ensembles cut the difference with somewhat of a middle ground ... bringing the primary low into Ohio, with a coastal transfer. Depending on the amount of moisture return that is achieved in the warm sector, the operational GFS could be a notable severe weather event. And would keep QPF amounts across the DC/NOVA area on the light side with little possibilities for winter weather. The transfer with this solution simply happens too late to provide the lift for precipitation and wraparound of cold air. Then we have the Euro with it's more southern solution. It would mean a smaller spatial window for severe weather possibilities and a better chance for wintry weather for the area (especially west ... like we saw with the early March event). Given the time range and the placement of the the ensembles in the middle of the operationals I would expect to see some compromise towards the middle in terms of track over the next 1-3 days ... rather than an extreme on either side verifying. If I had to pick a solution verbatim from this mornings 12z suite for the heck of it, it would be the GEFS.
Some type of severe weather threat is appearing more likely around the Saturday time fame from KS down into northern TX as a low develops on the flat side of the Rockies and works to setup/organize a dry line and triple point region. As the system pushes east, there is the potential to have a respectable cold front kicking into a moderately to highly sheared 60F+ Td warm sector along the MS River/Dixie Alley. Obviously too early to start boarding the train, but there is def potential for this system to produce a multi-day severe weather event ... possibly an outbreak ... from the Rockies east towards the MS River. Crappy moisture return is the biggest thing that could easily bust the event IMO.
Eventual tornado threat will depend on how unified the current line of storms becomes. If it can manage to maintain some semi-discrete updrafts within the line, then all current data points towards a significant nighttime outbreak across AL/northern LA/western MS. The combination of boundary parallel upper SR winds and low level SR winds on the order of 20-40 knts has me personally a little worried about a too unified squall line ATTM for a significant tornado threat. Some guidance manages to keep the southern end a little less unified enough that it overlaps with favorable hodograph environments ... so around the LA/AR border area may end up being ground zero for this event.
An area of low pressure with move out of the plains and up to our Northwest. As it passes by, it will drag a fairly healthy cold front across the area Wednesday afternoon/evening. It is only January but strong winds just off the surface leading to strong shear, a good quality warm sector, and linear forcing with the front may be enough to trigger a strong to severe line of forced convection along the cold front. The primary threat would be damaging winds and heavy rainfall with PWATS possibly exceeding 1.5".