The ABC 17 Stormtrack Weather Team has issued a Weather Alert Day for the potential of strong winds tonight into early Saturday morning, along with a few severe storms.
Winds have already started to increase as we transition away from upper high pressure working to our east and strong low pressure diving across the Rockies to our west. Since we're right in the middle of those two features, strong winds get squeezed in between and forced down to the surface, giving us wind gusts up to 35-45 mph.
A robust low level jet stream about 1 mile aloft will enhance ground level winds to 40-50 mph tonight.
Along with non-thunderstorm wind gusts, we'll also be tracking a cold front that will bring heavy rain and embedded thunderstorms tonight. The more favorable environment will be for areas west of Highway 63 where there will be some marginal instability to allow storms to sustain themselves, along with plenty of strong wind shear to develop a few severe storms.
Storms will move from west to east, arriving in areas along Highway 65 between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. Storms move into the Highway 63 corridor impacting Columbia and Jefferson City between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m., and press east thereafter. The heaviest rain exits before sunrise, but strong winds will continue overnight into Saturday morning.
Isolated to scattered power outages and minor tree damage is possible with non-thunderstorm winds into tonight, as gusts could range from 40-50 mph overnight.
Isolated severe storms could bring up to 60 mph wind gusts along with the threat of a brief spin-up tornado along Highway 65 and near the Lake of the Ozarks before 10:00 p.m. Winds will likely still gust to 30 mph through midday Saturday, but the severe threat will diminish quickly late Friday night.
Take down or secure any outdoor decorations or plants you might have on your porch before Friday. Make sure you have a way to receive alerts if any severe storms impact your location. Download the free ABC 17 Stormtrack Weather App to get real-time alerts and ensure your NOAA Weather Radio has fresh batteries.