Cam’s Weather Corner: Explaining how the dry line affects the Panhandle

Cam’s Weather Corner: Explaining how the dry line affects the Panhandle

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Severe weather season has begun, and as expected, it's been a slow start.

However, the activity should start to ramp up as we approach the latter part of this month and moves towards June.

Get the latest Amarillo news straight to your phone! Apple | Android

We have mentioned the dry line a lot on the news, but the question is, what exactly is the dry line?

The dry line is a boundary that separates dry air from deep moisture. Typically with dry line setups, you have a split weather pattern across the area: fire danger west of the dry line and severe weather to the east.

Most of the time, severe weather is the main focus with the dry line, but that ultimately depends on the year.

For example, this year we have been on the wrong side or the west side of the dry line a lot, so we've mainly just been dealing with fire weather.

There is a noticeable pattern associated with the dry line in most years. March to April are normally more fire weather months due to the dry line being too far east.

However, once we transition into May through June, the dry line starts to move closer to our area, which prompts our higher frequency severe weather months.

This pattern is normally only associated with typical years, however if you have El Niño or La Niña, this can alter the timeline.

This year is the perfect example, thanks to a decaying La Niña, our severe weather won't really pick up until June.

The typical thunderstorm needs some sort of trigger to form, whether it be a boundary of air masses or the lifting of air along a front.

The dry line is perfect because you have dry air clashing with warm moist air, this battleground is a common breeding place for severe thunderstorms.

A thunderstorm is defined as severe when it satisfies one of the following conditions:

  • One-inch diameter or quarter-sized hail
  • Winds exceeding 58 mph, or
  • Tornado production

Besides thunderstorms firing along the dry line, they can also form east of the dry line thanks to the solid moisture feed from the Gulf of Mexico.

If you want rain and thunderstorms this storm season, you want to be along the east side of the dry line.

Hopefully, we can anchor the dry line closer to our area to get better moisture chances across the Panhandle.

Copyright 2018 KFDA. All rights reserved.