SPOKANE, Wash. — A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been issued for all North Idaho counties until 8 p.m. tonight. The threat for damaging thunderstorms with high winds and large hail is increasing this Friday afternoon.
The Severe Weather Outlook from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has been raised to a "Slight Risk." This is category 2 out of 5 on the nationwide scale. And for the Inland Northwest, this is an urgent risk for the region. Damaging hail and wind are the main threats for the strong storms to develop today.
While a couple of strong and severe storms already formed in Washington this morning before 9 a.m., the main event of storms will develop after 2 p.m. Friday and last through about 10 p.m. The first storms should form in central Idaho and then travel northward towards Coeur d'Alene and Wallace at approximately 8 p.m.
The cut of low pressure off the coast of Washington is providing both a source of lift and storm initiation, as well as a high level of atmospheric instability. For the Spokane area, dew points in the mid-50s are fairly humid. While the energy levels (known as Convective Available Potential Energy, or CAPE) are above 1,000 J/kg which is very high for this part of the county!
Once the first storm forms, it will be sustained by the high instability of the atmosphere and be able to create a violent thunderstorm with lightning, hail, and high winds quickly.
Red Flag Warnings were also issued for eastern and northern Washington as the lightning could spark wildfires. While the thunderstorms themselves are expected to contain lots of heavy rain, the grass and fuels are much drier and are still a risk.
Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are issued by NWS Spokane for an imminent or occurring severe thunderstorm. Be sure to head these alerts and if are issued for your area, you should seek shelter inside immediately and stay away from windows.
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