Upper air data is taken from balloons which measure upper air conditions over a particular location. This includes plots of data on the standard mandatory and height levels, contours of various upper air parameters and a set of sounding plots for most US sites. These data update once every 12 hours at around 9:45 EST.
This is a contour plot of lifted index with a contour interval of 2 degrees Celsius. The LI field shows instability in the atmosphere by lifting a parcel of air from the surface to 500 mb and comparing its temperature to that of the environment. Where LIs are less than 0, thunderstorms are possible. The lower the number, the more unstable the atmosphere is and as a result, the bold the thunderstorms could become. Values of -4 or lower indicate areas where severe thunderstorms are possible. Values >10 indicate areas of stable weather where skies are generally clear.