It’s time to start looking ahead to the next setup. The next trough to affect the plains will be this coming weekend. The gulf is getting ready to get slammed by the cold front that just came through the plains. The dry air associated with the front will flush good quality moisture into the southern gulf over the next few days. We don’t start getting a return flow of moisture into the plains until around Friday morning as a trough digs south over the western US and begins to nose into the plains. Moisture looks to be a problem for any tornado potential on Friday, even over the higher terrain where any storm chances look to be. On Saturday the trough will move further into the plains and a respectable mid/upper level jet should start to nose into western Kansas. A triple point near the Nebraska panhandle and a dryline across the central plains should be the focus for any convection Saturday. Again moisture looks to be a serious problem for any tornado potential. We may be able to eek out a tornado or two somewhere along the triple point/dryline, but unless moisture prospects improve (which I don’t think is likely), then I wouldn’t expect much in the way of tornadoes on Saturday.
On Sunday the tornado chances are likely to be a little better as better quality moisture is forecast to make it at least into the southern plains. Again a dryline across the plains should be the primary focus for any tornado threat. Kansas and Oklahoma look to have the best threat on Sunday with the current GFS solution. This area has the strongest combination of low and mid level winds and also could see dewpoints back into the 60’s. Still a long ways out, but forecast hodographs did show a veer, back, veer tendency along the dryline in the central plains. You can’t read much into that this far out, but it seems to be a reoccurring theme this year. I’m not sure I’m buying that though for a couple reasons related to the larger scale pattern. I’ll wait to see a few more runs before wasting any time on that level of detail though.
I only glanced at the 00Z ECMWF and it seems to be a bit slower, but not by a whole lot, so there is general consensus between the models. Due to that I am fairly confident in saying Sunday will be a chase day. Saturday is pretty iffy given the poor quality moisture that looks to be in place. I’m a firm believer in the if it’s May chase rule, but I’m primarily a tornado chaser so if LCL’s are sniffing 2000m then you can pretty much bank on me staying home regardless of the month lol. I’d throw up a map, but I just got home from dinner and I want to watch Game of Thrones before bed. Basically central Kansas and western Oklahoma are the areas I’d circle for a tornado threat on Sunday. That may shift a bit, but I’m fairly confident that the central/southern plains will be the best area for tornadoes on Sunday. It doesn’t look like a major threat, but it’s rare to get a significant trough through the plains (with decent moisture available) that doesn’t produce tornado reports this time of year so I think we’ll see some lower end tornadoes at least on Sunday.
I did chase Friday and got on the storm in SW Oklahoma that was tornado warned for several hours. It fired near the triple point in SW Oklahoma and tracked along the warm front SW of Chickasha before finally weakening up towards Norman. It was initially more of a classic supercell for a while before it went tornado warned, but about the time it start showing good rotation it became an HP beast. I do not like HP warm front storms. They are always a pain in the ass to chase. Early before it really went HP the storm wasn’t too bad. you just had to get in close under the updraft because LCL heights were so slow (the base wasn’t even clearing the hills in the Wichita mountains) and because of all the haze being along the warm front. That made me a tad nervous because the storm had big hail and I was only keeping a small lead on the core. The road networks down there weren’t very good or I wouldn’t have been worried at all, but with sketchy roads one minor slow down can get you cored when you’re playing in that close and I’d prefer not to beat the shit out of my new car. Rotation picked up quickly as the storm got north of Lawton and I knew it was going to tornado so I jumped ahead of it to come back at it head on and get into the notch where you could have a visual on the occlusion in case it got rain wrapped. Unfortunately I had my head up my ass and missed the Fletcher exit I needed to take and the turnpike down there didn’t have another exit until Chickasha. I was more than a little pissed off because I was in great position on the storm and I blew an easy shot to camp out right ahead of the updraft and wait on it to produce. Instead I drove to Chickasha, got off the turnpike there and came back at the storm from the east. So again I had a real good angle on the storm, especially since it was HP and I needed to get into the inflow notch north of the hook. As the storm approached me SW of Chickasha it cycled through again and the rotation picked up dramatically. A tornado touched down when the storm was just to my SW, but I couldn’t see it before it got rain wrapped. I moved to the north-south highway south of Chickasha and parked while the RFD moved south of me. I was trying to tuck back into the inflow notch as far as I could in hopes of getting a visual on the tornado. I waited as long as I could before the core hit me and then started moving north to catch highway 19 which would take me SE back in front of the tornadoes track and the RFD. About the time I started moving the radar updated showing a strong velocity couplet and they came on the weather radio saying there was a confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado on the ground and that it was a life threatening situation for Ninnekah, which was the town right by me. That will give you a warm fuzzy feeling when you barely have a lead on it and the only escape route takes you right back through it’s path lol. I’ve been on enough HP tornadic supercells to know the velocity couplets can be misleading as far as tornado strength goes. If you didn’t know any better you’d think there was a massive wedge on the ground looking at a strong HP velocity couplet. I do know better though. The thing that scared me was the weather radio saying it was a confirmed large tornado (that and the bright colors with the velocity couplet on radar scope and grlevel3 staring at me didn’t help). On top of that the RFD was beating me to the highway I had to drive down so I knew I was going to catch a little bit of a swipe and wind speeds in the core of the RFD looked pretty damn strong. So for a few minutes there as I raced southeast on 19 I did get a decent scare. I knew I could beat the tornado if there were no other issues, but my real fear was the RFD winds were going to slow me down and the tornado was coming right in behind it where 19 banks to the southeast. I had that oh fuck feeling for a few minutes before I knew I was okay. That’s not a fun feeling. Ever since El Reno I’ve had a fear in the back of my mind that wasn’t there before. I think I’m over it and I’ll take the same risks I did before El Reno now, but that just reminded me how quickly things can turn on you out there and I think it’s the first such reminder I’ve had since El Reno. Anyway, I hate chasing warm fronts and I hate HP storms. I’ll do it, but it seems like more times than not the experience borders on not fun lol.
Alright enough rambling for tonight. I’ll update again tomorrow and include a map outlining the threat areas so check back then if you’re interested.