I am pretty much finished packing my car for hurricane chasing, which is no small task. I got my car in the shop this morning getting some fuses replaced and my tires rotated. After that I just need to hook up my hitch rack that carries all my gas cans and I’m good to go. It’s a very different setup vs tornado chasing. No antennas (because you need to keep a low profile for parking garages), no amplifiers, I don’t have cameras facing every direction, etc. Basically I have a lot less electronics and a lot more survival gear. I have a bed in back, gear for fixing flat tires quickly, a shit load of water, towels and everything else you’d need to live out of your car for a week. It was a two day pain in the ass getting all of it prepped and loaded and I wrapped it up just in time for the models to shift the track of Irma. After being it what was basically lockstep, the Models started showing more spread on the track with the GFS turning Irma north before it reached Florida with yesterday’s 12Z run. Although the NAM didn’t go out far enough, at 84 hours it was pretty close to being in line with the GFS. The euro held with a more western solution taking Irma up the west side of Florida until last night. Now it’s falling in line with the GFS. So as of now, my best guess is the eye of Irma will miss Florida to the east. NHC started hedging their bets on the latest update and shifted their track farther east, but they haven’t fully moved it in line with the GFS. I wouldn’t either if I were them because that would likely get the public to drop their guard a little and there’s still too much uncertainty for that. I am not going all the way to Florida unless there is going to be a land falling eye with a major hurricane. Irma skirting the coast wouldn’t bring the strongest winds off the NE quadrant on shore and that is what I’m after. So here I wait, trying to make a decision on what I’m doing. I need to make the call by this afternoon. I won’t miss a major hurricane, but again the strongest winds currently look like they’ll miss Florida to the east so my guess is I won’t be chasing this one. I’m waiting for this mornings 12Z runs to firm that up. The models have Irma then swinging into South Carolina, but it should be a weaker hurricane by then. It takes a major hurricane for me to chase, so I seriously doubt I’d make the trip to South Carolina, although that would be a hell of a lot easier to manage than a Miami chase. We’ll see. I’m keeping the car loaded so I’m ready to bounce anytime. Zoobilee is also this weekend and I hate to miss that, so it will take no less than a cat 3 eyewall coming ashore to pull me away from that. I might post some pics on here showing my equipment all packed up. I put all that work into it so I might as well get something out of it. I also think it’s helpful for any chasers who haven’t gone for a hurricane before because it’s a totally different deal than chasing tornadoes and it’s easy to overlook some things that could keep you out of trouble. If I do post on that I’ll go over my plan for if I was chasing Miami. I put a lot of work and thought into where I would setup and ride out the hurricane if it hit there. Anyway, I’ll update later after I see this mornings runs.
I’m still sulking a bit from not being able to chase Monday. Truth be told, I’m not 100% sure I would have gotten on the right storm. I was liking the Chugwater target and CAM guidance was consistent in showing a storm coming off that central portion of the moderate risk with a good gap to its south. That option was pretty appealing to me when I was watching the models leading up to the event. Once storms started firing though and going off current observations, I did start to think playing any tail end closer to the far southeastern corner of Wyoming looked like a better play. Who knows what I would have done if I was there. I do know one thing though. The only thing worse than not being able to chase on a big day is chasing a big day and fucking it up lol. That hurts the worst.
I thought we may be pretty much done with any good tornado setups, but I think there is still time. I can remember plenty of good tornado days during the last half of June. In fact I may be chasing as soon as Friday. The GFS has been showing some decent parameters in northeast and east central Nebraska Friday evening as a low amplitude disturbance works through the largely zonal flow over the plains. Tonight’s run of the NAM is even more aggressive and is showing some impressive parameters with a tail end of storms tracking through east central Nebraska. I’m just now getting into the forecast for this setup, but it certainly bears watching. I’m interested to see what SPC does when they pick it up with the day 3 tomorrow. Given it’s a low amplitude disturbance and there are some things that could go wrong, I doubt they get too aggressive this far out. One big concern that could totally flop any real tornado potential would be storms Thursday night in the central plains wiping out the moisture and delaying return flow into Nebraska. It will be interesting to see what SPC has to say tomorrow morning. I’ll be keeping an eye on the models so as long as it is looking good I’ll keep updating. The 03Z hodographs where convection is tracking through Friday night with the NAM is impressive, so maybe I’ll get a shot at redemption on Friday.
Well it looks like there will be a solid tornado threat tomorrow over the southeast quadrant of Wyoming. I’ve been watching it for a couple days, but there is no way I can chase. I have a consultant coming in tomorrow morning at work and the meeting has been scheduled for three weeks. It’s for our ISO recertification which is a week from Monday. I’m responsible for our ISO certification so I really can’t be gone the day of our final review before the recertification audit. It sucks because I would have loved to drive up to Cheyenne, Wyoming today and spent tonight going out up there. It would have been a relaxing road trip. No dice for Mikey though. I am probably chasing Nebraska on Tuesday though. I don’t have anything at work I can’t get out of so I think I’ll head out around 10-11am Tuesday morning for central Nebraska.
As far as the forecast goes, tomorrow I’d setup near Chugwater (which isn’t hard to figure out if you’re friends with chasers on Facebook because everybody and their brother is there right now). The high resolution NAM has consistently shown several storms developing from central to SE Wyoming during the afternoon. Storms may come off a bit cluttered at first, but one or two dominant storms should take shape over the southeast quadrant of Wyoming during the afternoon. As low level shear improves during the evening, hodographs will become very supportive of tornadic supercells. A strong tornado threat will exist from 6-9pm with any discrete storm over the area I boxed in red on the map. I’d expect SPC to probably go with a 10% hatched probability for tornadoes in the Day 1 outlook.
Tuesday’s setup is a tad bit more uncertain with regards to tornado potential. Storm motions are a bit to parallel to the dryline with less turning in the 850-500mb layer than I’d like to see. How far south storms develop is a bit uncertain, with some model guidance indicating convection all along the dryline in Kansas too. The problem as you head south is LCL heights will be higher so that will inhibit tornado potential. I haven’t looked at it that close yet, but I’ll start sorting out the details tomorrow and get my exact target for Tuesday posted. If there are discrete storms from central to Northeast Nebraska Tuesday afternoon, then I think there will be a decent tornado threat. I’ll get more into that later.
If you’re out tomorrow chasing, good luck. Wish I could be there. The road networks look like they suck over a lot of the threat area, so that will likely be the biggest challenge. There could be some photogenic tornadoes though so it should be a solid chase day.
Looks like there is a few days with chase potential starting this Saturday, so time to dust off the blog again. I’m tired and I have to get up early to go to Ottawa, Kansas tomorrow, so I’m going to just skim over the potential chase days coming up.
Saturday is showing some fairly decent tornado potential in southern Canada and northeast North Dakota. The GFS wants to keep precip to a minimum in North Dakota with the latest runs due to a cap. Still a long ways out so I’m not too worried about it at this point. If it did end up looking really iffy this side of the border I’d have a really hard time pulling the trigger. A blue sky bust at the Canadian border would suck something fierce. I could always cross the border I guess, but the best parameters appear to be along and south of the border where capping is more of a concern. I’m keeping an eye on it though. I’ve actually bagged tornadoes in North Dakota and Minnesota before, so it wouldn’t be my first time in either state. I have chased up there in years so I’d like to go back, but I’m not going unless I’m pretty damn confident there’s a solid tornado threat.
On Sunday there may be some action in the northern plains again, but it’s not looking as good as Saturday. On Monday I’m focused back on the central plains and potentially chasing central Kansas. And again on Tuesday there may be some potential in Kansas. Long ways out so I’ll get into it over the next couple days when I have more time. Chase season is winding down and this years sucked balls so it’s time to take what you can get. I’m going to have a hair trigger on all of these days just for that reason. I’ll try to update tomorrow night so check back then if you’re interested.
Sorry for no posts. I’ve took it easy and went out drinking yesterday and I am flying solo today so I haven’t had time to post on the road. I am sitting in Nowata, OK right now. That’s just east of Bartlesville. I am split between taking the OFB to my north, which is getting better towers along it as I type this or dropping south if the convection trying to get going along I44 gets going. I think the OFB is the smarter play with surface winds backing a little and 87 over 77 in far NE Oklahoma. For now I’m kind of keeping my options open. I think mother nature is going to force my hand here real quick though. I’m leaning towards chasing the OFB. Trying to see how the storms farther east along the same boundary start off along the KS/MO border. My number one priority today is not to get shit hammered by cantelope sized hail. Roads get sketchy out here and storms will move pretty quick, so it’s a recipe for an ass kicking. I’m not so worried about while I’m chasing as I am about getting out of here when storms fill in without catching a little damage. We’ll see. It’s going to be interesting lol. Good luck if you’re out and stay safe.
Long day again today so I am just now getting started looking at model data. Another busy day today. I didn’t get home from work until after 6pm, then I had to walk Duck, workout and clean my apartment. I’m getting my oil changed tomorrow right after work to get it ready for a chasing road trip this weekend. After that I have to hustle home and change to go to a concert with friends. That being said, I haven’t had much time to forecast today and I won’t have much time tomorrow night either. There really isn’t a whole lot more to add anyway, so look back to my previous map and post for reference. The previous forecast map is still valid minus a few tweaks I’ll cover below.
For Friday, it’s looking like cap’ola bust’ola. Neither the NAM or the GFS is painting a pretty picture. Chances look pretty good that the cap may hold. You really can’t trust the models with precip though, so I’m not canceling any plans just yet. As we get within a day of the event you can start to look at observational data and the models will provide a little better guidance. If the cap can break, the best parameters will be off the dryline bulge. The NAM has had the dryline bulge farther southwest than the GFS and the GFS seems to be trending that way. Therefore on my map below the threat area needs to be shifted a little farther to the southwest. Right now it looks like the dryline bulge and stronger shear will be near Oklahoma City. That is the area that would have the best potential for a tornadic supercell. It’s both a favored area for the cap to possibly break and it has the better low level shear where surface winds back. The big problem with Friday is the cap and right now it doesn’t look real good. If we can get a sustained storm on Friday, conditions should be pretty favorable for tornadic supercells. As I mentioned earlier, as we get closer it will be a lot easier to figure out the cap and whether or not we’ll get any storms. I hope the picture is more clear because I really don’t want to drive down to Oklahoma for a blue sky bust on Friday night. If it looks like we’ll get storms, I’m chasing.
Saturday looks like a much more sure thing as far as getting storms go. The problem with Friday is poor directional shear with very little 850-500 crossover by 00Z ahead of the dryline in Oklahoma. The best directional shear and greatest tornado threat will most likely be over the southern half of Oklahoma. Right now it looks like the southeast quadrant of Oklahoma, east of 35 and south of I40 is the most likely to get a tornadic supercell or two. As long as the directional shear doesn’t get worse with later runs, I think hodographs still look decent and a right moving storm should be able to produce over that area. The north central Texas area just south of there also looks okay along the dryline. So basically if you look back to my previous map, I think the southern half of the threat area I outlined looks best for tornadoes.
Alright, I know that’s pretty brief and uninformative, but I’m tired and winging it tonight so you’re just going to have to take it lol. I’ll try to get a brief update posted tomorrow, but no guarantees. Until next time…
I’m going to keep this short tonight because I’m tired and I still think we are a day or two out from really getting into any detail. The NAM will pick up on Friday’s setup tomorrow morning, so I want to see that before I start getting too bold with my forecast posts.
It still looks like Friday and Saturday will both be chase days. High quality moisture with dewpoints as high as the low 70’s with extreme instability are the big assets with this setup. Mid and upper level flow won’t be all that strong (exception possibly being along the mid level jet axis on Saturday), but deep layer should be strong enough for supercells given the strong instability that should be in place. Low level shear is good enough, but not great too. The strongest low level shear will probably be located near the dryline bulge and warm front in NE Oklahoma on Saturday, where hodographs look quite favorable for tornadic supercells. The big concern for Friday looks to be a strong cap, however the GFS has been consistent in breaking out precip near the dryline bulge in NE Oklahoma. If we can get sustained storms, which is a big if at this point, tornadoes would look like a good bet in the vicinity of the warm front in NE Oklahoma with the current GFS solution. Long ways out though, so a lot can change. It’s certainly something to keep a close eye on though. Storms may also be possible farther south along the dryline, but I’d think the favored location for storms would be along the dryline bulge. That in combination with the stronger low level shear along the warm front in NE Oklahoma is making me focus in on that area for tornado potential.
Saturday storms should be a little more widespread as a stronger mid level jet streak works into Oklahoma. Long ways out, but deep layer shear would likely be stronger and the warm sector should be just as juiced as it will be on Friday. That sends the signal that Saturday may be the more widespread severe weather day. I like the southern into central Oklahoma area best on Saturday right now, but again a long ways out so a lot can change. . The orientation of the dryline is a bit NE to SW and I hate veering 850’s which we may be dealing with, so there’s a couple concerns for you. That being said, parameters do look favorable for tornadic supercells again on Saturday. That’s about all I’ll say for now given how far out it is.
Alright, that’s it for tonight. I have plenty more to say so I could be my normal long winded self right now, but I need to get to relax for a little bit before bed. I do plan on chasing both Friday and Saturday and I’ll be updating on here regularly so check back if you’re interested.
Welp, time to start looking ahead to our next chance for tornadoes. Still a long ways out and the GFS has been very inconsistent with the placement and extent of any severe weather/tornado threat for Friday, so take the above map with a huge grain of salt. As a matter of fact I based that map off guidance from the 00z and 06Z runs of the GFS. As I type this the 12Z run just came out and it has shifted the threat area south with mid level flow being too weak for supercells over the northern portion of the threat area on the above map.
Good quality moisture has already been pushed into southern Texas. Although there will be some modest return flow of moisture into the southern plains tomorrow, moisture quality will not be good enough for a tornado threat. Things will remain quiet through the week as a trough dives south over the plains and northerly winds keep quality moisture over the Gulf of Mexico. As the trough pushes east around the middle of the week, SW flow aloft will setup a lee side low and moisture should start advecting back north into the plains on Thursday. There is some chance for severe weather on Thursday along a dryline, but for now my guess is moisture quality won’t be quite good enough yet for a meaningful tornado threat. It’s something to watch though. By Friday better quality moisture should be in the plains with dewpoints in the upper 60’s/low 70’s being forecast. The focus for severe storms and tornadoes would be a surface low in the central plains and a dryline running south from there. There is not a strong trough with this setup. It will be modest southwest flow with small waves working through it. This makes it difficult to judge the exact location and extent of any threat, especially this far out. That being said, it’s kind of pointless getting into any details about what the GFS is showing. It has jumped around a lot over the last 4 runs, with the latest run keeping stronger mid level winds/favorable deep layer shear farther south in Oklahoma. I’ll be keeping an eye on it and update regularly. My guess is that Friday will be our next chase day. With good quality moisture and strong instability in place, it won’t take a whole lot in the way of shear to support a tornado threat. One thing I do like about these types of SW flow/low amplitude disturbance type setups is that there is little forcing, so you’re likely to get discrete storms and directional shear can be really good. I am a huge fan of both. Anyway, I’m watching each model run so I’ll be going over this setup as it evolves at least once or twice a day, so check back for updates if you’re interested.
Thursday’s high risk ended up being a kick in the nuts for me. We knew leading into Thursday that convective evolution was the big question mark with the extent of the tornado threat and it ended up mitigating it to a large degree. There was simply way too many storms and precipitation over the warm sector. I knew storms being clustered along the dryline and warm front was a major concern, but I didn’t think we’d get open warm sector storms like we did until the HRRR started showing it on Thursday morning. I still didn’t want to believe it until late morning when the open warm sector storms started going in Texas (which the HRRR showed going up first). Turns out the HRRR wasn’t all that far off.
I started the day in Greensburg, then moved back to Pratt to make sure I had both the warm front storms or the tornadic storms coming up from Oklahoma into south central Kansas in range. My target for the day was largely predetermined by the way. I have a rule I try to follow that I always keep Wichita within range on higher end tornado threat days. Because of that I was pretty much locked into the warm front as long as it stayed somewhat south or storms moving in from Oklahoma. We watched towers go up near Pratt, which is where the picture above was taken, until storms finally started developing just to our north. We started heading north to stay with them as they matured, but after about 10 miles we pulled off and headed back south because if we stayed on the warm front storms we were going to quickly be out of position and wouldn’t be able to beat any of the storms coming up from Oklahoma back to Wichita. So we decided to take the tornado warned storms moving out of Oklahoma up into south central Kansas. We skirted ahead of them down by the Oklahoma border and got in position off the east side of their track just in time for them to completely fall apart. From then on it was nothing but crapvection going up all around us and the tornado potential was ruined. I got in one severe storm on my way back to Wichita and had the stream on air so that was a small consolation, but I was pretty butt hurt I had nothing to show for a high risk day. I’m still a little butt hurt to be honest lol. So that was how my day played out. The little baby horny toad I found north of Pratt was pretty much the highlight of my day. Pic is below.
I didn’t want to look at today’s setup when I got home last night. I needed time to sulk first. I briefly glanced at the setup and SPC this morning and didn’t think it looked worth while up in Kansas. Paid zero attention to it through the day while I was busy at work and then found out I was getting my pants pulled down when a friend texted me about the first tornado warning. I headed out of town after that and saw the Pretty Prairie funnel/tornado. I wasn’t close enough to verify there was rotation at the ground. I did see it was reported my numerous people, some I believe to be reputable, that it was on the ground. I was driving and trying to find a high point off the east side of Cheney Lake so all I got is a pic while moving which is below.
I stayed with the storms all the way up towards Valley Center and then called it a day after all the severe warnings had been dropped. It was outflow dominant along the entire souther portion of the line at that point. Pretty much seemed like it was case closed on any tornado potential. Nope lol. God damn thing has a cell hook up in that line an hour later and drop a couple tornadoes out of nowhere. It actually had a pretty solid velocity couplet. Just dumbfounded by it. I can’t even get mad at myself on this one lol. Anyway, at least the day was not a total loss.
Looks like we are in for a bit of a slow stretch. I’ll check the models tomorrow and get an extended forecast up though. We can at least take a guess at when the plains will get active again so check back later if you’re interested.
Still a lot of uncertainty around convective evolution for this afternoon. The HRRR has been extremely consistent in blowing up storms over the warm sector and have dryline storms being pretty clustered. Visible satellite makes me question that a little bit over the south central Kansas portion of the threat area. We are in Greensburg now. The triple point looks to be setting up just to our SE right now. It should continue pushing NW towards our location though. Cumulus is becoming more agitated into south central Kansas and I’d expect a mesoscale discussion soon. A PDS tornado watch is already out for western Oklahoma up to the KS border. Our watch will be coming, it’s just taking longer for storms to get going up here, which will actually increase the tornado threat. The longer storms hold off the more volatile the atmposphere will be when they finally do go. See my map for last night for the greatest tornado threat area along the warm front. The locations on that map should still be valid. I need to focus on getting ready to chase now so I may not update again before I get on a storm. I will post pics to twitter and facebook and follow KWCH to see my streaming video and coverage while on the storm. Good luck if you’re out and take warnings very seriously if you’re in the threat area.