I’ve been keeping a close eye on the setup for this Friday. The trough has continuously slowed down over the past week with the GFS (originally it was showing the trough Tuesday, then slowed down to Thursday), but the timing seems to be settling in over the last couple days with Friday being the day in the plains. Now that we’ve seen a little consistency out of the GFS, I think it’s somewhat safe to start talking details. I have not been watching the euro and now that I say something about the GFS settling in it will probably shit the bed with the 00Z run (hasn’t come out yet as I type this).
A low amplitude trough will eject into the plains Friday. Although there isn’t much curvature, the midlevel jet is fairly strong with the shortwave that will move through Kansas Friday afternoon. Moisture quality is always a concern this time of year and although the GFS shows dewpoints getting into the low 60’s as far north as south central Kansas, I’m not sure I’m buying that quite yet. The Gulf is going to get hammered and dried out for the next 48 hours before trajectories turn around and start pulling moisture back in off the western Gulf around Thursday morning. That leaves 36 hours for a decent fetch of moisture. The low level is going to be fairly strong, but again I’m not sold on dewpoints reaching the low 60’s quite yet. I only looked at a couple forecast sounding since we’re still a long ways out, but the moisture in south central Kansas was pretty deep. The focus for convection will be along a cold front across central Kansas, but I’m not paying attention to that. I’m after tornadoes, so my focus is on the cold front dryline interection/triple point and the dryline south from there. The triple point looks to be fairly close to Wichita Friday afternoon with the dryline running south from there along the I35 corridor. The GFS has been very sparse with convection. It’s shown a little precipitation off the triple point, but it’s only showed occasional blips along the dryline into Oklahoma. I don’t trust any of the models on precipitation, but it would be nice to see that trend change. There is a pretty stout cap on some of the forecast soundings, so convective coverage is a concern with this one. We may not see any storms away from the cold front. My guess is we’ll get a triple point storm and maybe a dryline storm or two, but they could struggle. The few soundings I looked at had very little CAPE in the lower levels, which I’m never a fan of. I also hate veering 850’s, which also looks to be the case with this setup. If you’ve read my forecast posts much at all then you’ll already know there are few things I dislike more with a plains setup than veering 850’s. At 21Z the GFS shows decent veering in the 850-500 layer, but by 00Z there’s straight line hodographs over over south central Kansas and farther south where there is still a little veering in that same layer the cap/convective coverage looks to be an issue. The timing isn’t good with the cold front either. Earlier in the day you have more of a warm front style boundary east of the triple point with backing surface winds, but it’s starts to transition to a cold front style boundary later in the afternoon with surface winds weakening and starting to veer as the front moves south. That’s never a good thing for low level shear and tornado potential with storms tracking near the front, which includes the triple point storm. I’m keeping a close eye on it, but right now I see a lot of problems for tornado potential. Low level lapse rates aren’t good, advancing cold front, convective coverage issues along the dryline, lift north of most of the warm sector, veering 850’s, etc. I am prepping to chase and likely will, but I’m not all that excited about my prospects of seeing a tornado at this point. I’ll get a map and more detailed forecast posted in the coming days. Right now I’d target the triple point in south central Kansas. If it looks like the dryline will fire up then there may be better prospects down there with more favorable shear profiles.
Been glancing over data and looks like we got a big turd sandwich on tap for today. Overnight convection has bit the warm sector pretty hard. Dewpoints in the mid 50’s are still way down south in Texas. I can’t even see them on the central plains view on SPC mesoanalysis. Earlier runs of the NAM had dewpoints reaching 57 or so along the dryline in south central Kansas. That ain’t gonna happen. BTW if I had spent a little more time/done a better job forecasting, overnight/morning storms inhibiting moisture return probably should have been flagged as a problem. I didn’t look very closely at the setup since it’s just a lower end severe threat, but still I should have caught that. That’s why you start trying the forecasting early in the season though just like you try out the equipment. You gotta knock the dust off from last season before the real deal gets here. The 14Z run of the HRRR is fairly aggressive with dewpoints getting back up to 60 near OKC. Not sure I’m buying that, but I do think the area near OKC is the only possibility for a play today. I’m anxious to see what SPC does with the 11:30 update and whether or not they go with a slight risk or keep it mrgnl. I haven’t looked at it closely so I don’t have much of an opinion and I’m trying to get my apartment cleaned up so I can run to the gym in an hour so I’m not going to forecast much, but my guess is the HRRR is juicing it a bit. We got KU playing the late game tonight in the NCAA tournament and my focus is going to be on going to the bar to watch that rather than chasing a real low end setup. I did work on getting my dashcams setup this morning, so I did make some progress on the chasing front. Just a few more things to do and I’m ready whenever mother nature decides to cooperate and give us a good tornado setup. On that front, Thursday of next week is still looking like our first real chance. Long ways out and I have little to no faith in the GFS so take that with a grain of salt, but I’m watching it closely. If it looks as good as it has in the most recent runs, then I will be chasing on Thursday. I’ll probably get a forecast post on that up tomorrow, so check back then if you’re interested.
I’m not going to get into much tonight. I went out to dinner tonight with some other chasers from Wichita, which was a lot of fun. It’s always good to see those guys and shoot the shit. It seems like most of the time in the field you’re too busy so outside of these occasional social gatherings I don’t get to talk to some of those guys very often. I’m ready to ass out on the couch and watch basketball now, so although I did forecast a little bit tonight, I’m not going to get into any details.
I’m still watching Saturday for a local chase. It is definitely lower end, but with dew points in the mid 50’s we may be able to eek out a weak tornado. The low level shear is weak or I’d feel a little more confident. Still along the moisture bulge the NAM has been showing we may be able to get a tail end supercell Saturday afternoon and with it being pretty close to Wichita I think I’ll bite if the forecast stays on track. I need to get out and test equipment anyhow. I posted the map above showing the area I’m looking at for Saturday. Then there may be more potential Sunday farther south in SW/S central Oklahoma, but I’ll hold off on getting into that until tomorrow. Nothing impressive for sure, but a more active pattern may lie ahead so I’m looking for a warm up chase. Check back tomorrow for an update.
I had to jump over to pivotal weather tonight and check out the ECMWF because the GFS showed some major changes with the 500mb pattern from yesterday’s 12Z through today’s 18Z. It has been trending towards having the lead trough that comes through this weekend digging much farther south over the southeastern US which clobbers the gulf. The GFS also has a higher amplitude west coast trough coming through later for the second wave later in the week (was Tuesday on earlier runs, now it is showing Thursday). Due to the major swings with the GFS, decided I better start watching the Euro. I only looked at the last two runs of the euro and it seems to be closer in line with the later runs of the GFS. It’s pointless getting into any detail right now since the models can’t be trusted, but the lead wave not digging south into the gulf is going to be a major factor in the quality of setup we may get for the second trough later next week. The further south quality moisture gets shoved south, the harder it’s going to be for us to advect quality moisture back north into the plains ahead of the next trough. Lot of uncertainty obviously, but the good news is that the models do seem to consistently be showing an active jet stream over the plains in the coming weeks, so hopefully we’re looking at an active end of March/start of April.
Below is a screen grab of 500mb temps with the ECMWF and GFS from COD and Pivotal Wx just to give you an idea of the upper air pattern if you aren’t looking for yourself. They really aren’t all that far off from each. High amplitude trough coming on the west coast, I’ll take it. That’s all you can really ask for this time of year.
The GFS is a little faster and a little lower amplitude relative to the euro, but the theme is the same. An active jet stream with a west coast trough. So I guess we keep waiting and watching. I’m amped for chase season, so I’ll be watching the models closely. I’ll try to update frequently so check back if you’re interested. With the NCAA tournament starting Thursday I may get sidetracked a bit, but that will be temporary. In other news I have to update some stuff on my blog so there is the distinct possibility that I’ll crash it. If that happens, just give me a few days and one way or another I’ll get it straightened out.
It’s my favorite time of year again. Whether you go off March 1st or 15th start date for tornado season, it’s here. I’ve been checking the models daily for a few weeks now, but there hasn’t been any action in the plains worth talking about yet. Right on schedule though, it looks like things will start picking up soon so it’s time to dust off the old blog. I also had to update my software for my blog and it’s a little different, so I need to get some test posts going to make sure I got everything under control. I need to reestablish my push settings to my other social media accounts and check a few other things. I hate dealing with this stuff, but it’s way better to get the kinks worked out now rather than screwing with it when I’m in the field on a chase.
I’m going to keep it pretty brief for now because we are a long ways out and the GFS has been jumping around a lot. Although there’s been very little consistency with the GFS, there has been consistency in the general signal that we are going to transition into a west coast trough next weekend with a series of shortwaves ejecting into the plains between March 23rd and March 26th. The specific timing of these waves are far from clear. What is becoming a little more clear is the general theme and two larger presumptions that I’ve taken away from it. One is that in the series of shortwaves that are forecast to eject into the plains during the March 23-26 window, the later waves have consistently been stronger. On top of that, the northern half of the gulf will be pretty dry leading into this weekend and you aren’t going to get a very good fetch of moisture for the initial shortwaves this weekend, so I expect the moisture quality will be much better for any shortwaves coming through Monday-Tuesday (talking about March 25th-26th when I say Monday-Tuesday btw in case you weren’t following). Basically I think the initial waves will prime the pump and we’ll get better quality moisture to work with Monday-Tuesday. So I guess my presumption is that we may see a low end severe risk somewhere in the plains this weekend, the better chance for any tornado threat will hold off until the March 25-26 timeframe. Beyond that there isn’t much point in going into detail until we see some consistency out of the models. I did get my car mostly prepped today so I’m about ready to chase. I will be ready by this weekend. If there is chase potential this weekend, I think it will be low end. I am more optimistic about seeing some tornado potential early next week, but it’s a long ways out and the GFS has not been consistent so it’s nothing more than something to keep an eye on at this point. Still with the GFS showing decently strong shortwaves and the larger scale pattern being somewhat favorable for at least adequate moisture advecting into the plains, it has my attention.
I will continue to keep an eye on it and try to post somewhat regularly so check back if you’re interested.
Really don’t know why I’m making a post right now because I have been unable to do any real forecasting since the models updated. COD has been slow the last few days and tonight it is literally unusable. Bit of a problem for me since that is where I do virtually all of my forecasting. I am not a fan of pivotal weather and twister wx because there are no zoomed in views. It’s just killing me. I know there are some other sites that you can pull regional views from, but I’m not going digging right now for new forecasting sites just because COD’s server is shitting the bed. Last night it started working better a little later at night. I don’t know if the problem is when the data is being updated or if it’s simply heavy traffic around the time the updated runs are coming out. Something is wrong though.
Anyway, I am interested in Nebraska for Friday evening. I had been focusing on North and South Dakota, but that is a hell of a drive and more recent runs have gotten me a lot more interested in dryline storms over southern or central Nebraska. Higher quality moisture has been forecast to push into that area Friday afternoon and it may be enough to break the cap and get a few discrete/semi discrete storms coming off the dryline. Parameters really ramp up for tornadoes there after 00Z, but at the same time CINH starts to set in. I really need COD working to look into this since it’s a matter of pulling forecast soundings and looking at the finer details to see if the good tornado potential late in the day can be realized. Convective evolution should be at least mildly favorable for either discrete storms or a solid tail end storm late in the day during the window where low level shear ramps up, so the potential looks like it could be there fora. solid tornadic storm. The devil is in the details with tornadoes though and forecasting them is a finicky little deal with these types of setups. As far as Nebraska goes it looks like it’s going to be a tightly timed deal where things need to come together just right. In central Nebraska at 00Z the LCL heights will be a little high and 0-1km SRH will be marginal at best. The NAM has the upper 60 dewpoints advecting into that area late in the day and we really need that moisture to hit the tail end storms by that 7pm window where low level shear ramps up dramatically. If that can happen, LCL heights will lower and low level shear will ramp up dramatically around 7pm. There should be a discrete or tail end storm that will be capable of tornadoes in that area, so then it’s just a matter of whether or not those parameters come together early enough for storms to go tornadic before CINH starts to cause problems. I am really interested to see what SPC has to say and to look at the finer details with the Nebraska setup once COD gets its shit together and starts working properly. It’s not short drive for me. I could be looking at as much as a 6 and a half hour drive to my target area, but if it looks like there is a chance for some solid tornadoes I am going to have to pull the trigger. I pray to god storms can go up in the southern half of Nebraska because the Sandhills are kind of a pain in the ass. I’ve chased them several times before, but it’s definitely not one of my favorite areas. It’s desolate and the road networks suck bad. I feel like I deserve some decent roads after dealing with the area between Buffalo OK, Protection KS and Alva OK last night. That area is a shit show too with the Cimmaron river and horrible back road options. Bit of a kick in the nuts on that deal yesterday. We got on the storm that tracked right down the OFB. It certainly appeared to have the best tornado potential and the vast majority of chasers in the field yesterday were on that storm, but then a storm by Dodge City, not even in the watch area, plants a couple tubes. LOL fucking kidding me. I can’t even be mad at myself for not getting the right storm on that one. Our storm got close to producing a few times before the bird fart by Wanoka. It was kind of weird when it crossed back into Oklahoma. There was this big tail cloud like ghost train style updraft base, but the core of the updraft base was real raggedy like it was struggling a bit. At the same time the lowering was building down on the north edge of the meso and there was rapid vertical motion, obvious vorticity being ingested as the tail feeding in was corkscrewing big time, but the base of the lowering/tail cloud feeing into remained too horizontal. It was like the bouyancy in the downdraft/updraft interface right there wasn’t right to tilt the vorticity that was being ingest vertical enough for you to get a tornado. That or the RFD was undercutting it just a bit. One way or another it couldn’t quite get it done, but it was real close. You had that rapid downward motion on the RFD side of the wall cloud and rapid inflow with rotation on the inflow side. All the cloud motions looked right for that thing to plant a tube, but it just wasn’t quite vertical enough to do it. Hopefully I can rebound from it Friday in Nebraska.
I haven’t looked at Saturday’s setup yet since COD is shit and I’m focused on Friday, but I’ll take a look at it tomorrow. I’d like to chase Friday and then go out Saturday, but if the tornado chances look good I will probably chase right through the weekend.
I’ll try to update tomorrow. I’d wait for the NAM to start working right on COD and do it tonight, but I need to watch the office on Netflix and get to bed early, so it’s not happening. Check back tomorrow though for an update.
Heading out chasing right now. Almost to Pratt as I type this. Heading for the area south of Greensberg right now. There is an area of convergence down there that keeps putting off towers. Sooner or later it will go. I just hope it holds a little longer until we’re there. The tornado chances are low end, but we may get one or two weak tornadoes this afternoon. I believe the best tornado potential is along an ouflow boundary from this morning’s storms. The boundary is tough to pin down exactly at the surface, but it should be damn close to lying right along the KS OK border. Dewpoints are higher by about 7 degrees south of the boundary and winds are due easterly right along it. That’s where I want to be. It’s easy to track in Oklahoma with the mesonet, but once it gets into Kansas our horrible surface station network makes tracking boundaries difficult to say the least. We got it pinned down good enough though. Storms should track off to the east and fill in through the afternoon as they do. Any tornadoes will be with more discrete or tail end convection. That or I could see an inflow notch or two along a bowing segment getting warned later, especially as storms approach the area west of 135. You can see where a pocket of better moisture has worked in west of Wichita where overnight storms haven’t compromised it. If a bowing segment reaches that later, I’d imagine it would get a little kick as it moves into better air. It’s about game on for me so no more posts on here. I’ll post pics on twitter if I’m on anything worth while. I also think I’m going to chase the northern plains Friday, so check back tomorrow because I’ll start getting into the tornado chances for up there.
Well the outlook isn’t good my friends. I tell you it’s not good at all lol. Seriously though it does look like shit, but you can’t really trust the GFS that far out. I’ll get into that here in a second. First I was going to briefly address the shit show on Saturday. That initial cluster of storms in Oklahoma went up farther south than expected and I think they screwed things up for the tornado potential down there. We knew going into it that convective evolution was a concern and I don’t think it played out favorably. By the time one storm in that massive cluster became dominant it looked like an HP nightmare given the road networks and chase terrain. We were setup by the OK/KS border, so there was no chance for us to make that storm unless we fully committed and hauled south. We opted to stay put and ended up getting on a storm in Oklahoma later. It looked like it worked into some less buoyant air in the wake of that lead cluster. It shit the bed just like virtually every other storm during the afternoon and there were cells trying to develop everywhere. Basically it was a mess. Still it’s the only place that produced a tornado. I think there was one tornado report in Oklahoma up close to the KS border. It was pretty obvious there wasn’t going to be any tornadoes by around 5pm so we called it a day. Ended up just tagging along with a couple severe storms so pretty worthless chase.
Looking forward, there’s not much hope lol. The models were hinting at a couple troughs breaking down the ridge and getting into the central plains by around June 1st, but the GFS has trended away from that. Now it’s showing lower amplitude waves that stay farther north. That’s not what you want to see. I’m down to head up to the Dakotas, but I need.a decent setup for that level of commitment (at least if it’s during the week). If you take GFS literally, which you should not, then there really isn’t any real good looking tornado days. The 18Z provides one interesting day in like a week and a half, but you can’t pay any attention to something that shows up in just one model run. The broader picture is definitely a bleak one at this point. Still a lot of time left though and June is still prime time for tornadoes. I’ll keep watching the models and update every couple days.
We are going with the OFB target today. I am trying to get out the door so not much time now, but I think the overnight convection disrupted low level winds more than the NAM is showing. 850’s really haven’t recovered at all yet north of the OFB. I think there are two distinct corridors for tornadoes. One where spc just put the latest mess for the OFB and the other kind of along I70 and the turnpike from Junction City/Emporia up towards KC. That triangle area along with the OFB are the most likely places to see tornadoes today IMO. With the disrupted low level winds and that warm front being more of a crashing cold front, I’m afraid of that screwing up anything going closer to Concordia right by the low, which was my target a couple days ago. I think anything along 70 is a little riskier and I’m not sure how convective evolution will go up there and whether the cold front will interfere. The ofb may have convective evolution problems too, but the air is less contaminated and all we need is one or two discrete cells to get the job done, which very well may happen. I’m going to err east and setup near 135 with a good east bound option, probably at the highway that runs to Ark City. I think a lead storm or a dominant cell moving into south central KS could get it done. I’ll update more from the road.
Sorry I didn’t get a post up after I hit the road yesterday. I was flying solo and I never had much time or much to say while I was driving out to western Kansas and getting into position. I thought yesterday was shit for tornadoes, and it turned out that way lol. I played the warm front up along I70 since that was the only place I thought the thermodynamics and low level shear may be good enough for a tornado. I got a severe storm NW of Scott City. It right turned and actually started building down a wall cloud, but right about the time it was getting organized and cluster of storms that were on a more northern track ran right into it and ruined the show. The drive home on I70 was a nightmare. I think I had to core punch four different severe storms and it rained all the way from Oakley to Wichita. At points you couldn’t even see the road due to hail fog and blinding rain/hail. People were stopped all over I70. It took me about five and a half hours to make a drive that should have taken no more than 3 and a half. Sucked big time lol.
Today does not look nearly as good as it did in previous model runs. Overnight storms turning over the target area has made the surface pattern much messier and rather than have a tight surface low with a warm style front running east of it, you have more of a disorganized trough with a cold front dropping south. I am very short on time and I think picking a target will be a lot easier here in an hour or so, so for now I’m not going to say much. I need to shower and get ready because I have people coming over to chase. I think there is two targets. One would be about straight north of Wichita near I70. This is east of the surface low and hopefully surface winds will back through there. Storms developing in that area and tracking along the turnpike and that Topeka to KC corridor may be able to get a tornado out. The other interesting area is along the KS/OK border area where outflow from overnight storms should set up. I’m watching that on satellite now. Short range models show low level winds not being that strong up north, I’m sure due to the massive blob of crapvection wiping that area out. Low level shear may be stronger along the OFB down south in addition to preexisting voriticy being available along that boundary. I’m leaning south for my target, but I could go either way. I’m going to shower and get the car cleaned up real quick and then I’ll take a closer look and make the call. I am not driving today, so I should be able to forecast and make posts on the road. Check back here in an hour or two for another targeting and tornado potential update.