March 7th and 8th Forecast/Plains Chase Season Starting Up

ecmwfUS_500_spd_144March 1st is what most chasers and weather nerds consider the start of tornado season and right on schedule the models are showing a severe weather setup for plains. It’s still a long ways out, so I’ll hold off on getting into any detail until this weekend. The ECMWF and GFS are in fairly good agreement with the upper air pattern, with a trough moving on shore this weekend and digging south as it deepens into a high amplitude wave. An initial shortwave is forecast to move through the central plains Monday, with the larger trough ejecting into the plains on Tuesay, so those are the two days of interest right now. Again I don’t want to get into any detail yet since it’s a ways out, but despite some obvious problems with this setup, I do think we could see some lower end tornado potential both Monday and Tuesday. Moisture return ahead of the trough/Monday is a bit sketchy, but shear profiles along the dryline will be fairly good with good length and curvature in the lower half of the hodograph ahead of the dryline in the central plains. ¬†Upper 50 to low 60 dewpoints seem likely for Tuesday (so moisture seems to be less of an issue than Monday), but the mid-upper flow will also have a stronger meridional component by then. The GFS is showing a moisture wrap around setup in Oklahoma though as a surface low deepens in west Texas Tuesday and with low level winds backing strongly over that area there is good directional shear despite the meridional mid level flow. So that is kind of the area I’m focused on for Tuesday at this point.

Anyway, still a ways out but it’s looking like Monday and Tuesday could be the first plains chase days of the 2016 season. I am still working on getting my equipment setup in my car so I gotta hustle. I bought a motorized pan/tilt mount for the roof of my car so I can try to stream video of tornadoes while I drive away from them. That along with getting the new camera rigged up I’m using with it is my biggest equipment challenge right now since most of my other stuff is carry over from last year. I picked up a new iPad the other day because the older one I’d been using wouldn’t support the latest versions of radar scope. I love their velocity images and I try to always keep that up in my car as an early warning (especially on rain wrapped and strong tornado days) ever since I got my ass kicked by the El Reno tornado. For some reason GRLevel3’s velocity output isn’t nearly as detailed (GRlevel3 is what I run on the laptop in my car), so I don’t like relying much on that for velocity data. I’ll get some pictures posted this weekend of my equipment once I finish getting it setup. I go pretty heavy on the equipment lol. It’s definitely overkill relative to what I really need to get by, but it gives me a comforting feeling knowing I have all angles covered by cameras, I have incredibly reliable internet access (cradlepoint running AT&T and Verizon), all the data I need, and I have multiple options for gps/radar/mapping. At this point I’m rambling so I’ll wrap it up.

Now that storm season is getting underway I’ll be posting regularly on my blog again so check back if you’re interested. I’ll update on the forecast either tomorrow or Friday, but I won’t start getting into a lot of detail or the extent of any tornado threat until this weekend.

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