Still no tornadoes in Kansas yet this year. Does that change tomorrow? Ehh, I’d say 50/50 chance of that. I think any tornadoes tomorrow will be weak, but there’s a chance we’ll get one. Pretty weak setup as far as tornadoes are concerned. A surface front will lie roughly along a Wichita to Topeka to north of Kansas City line. Storms should develop along that front during the afternoon, primarily along the Topeka to KC corridor. Upper level winds will again be weak with deep layer shear along the front barely sniffing supercell criteria. There will be strong instability though which will help to offset the weak shear a bit. A good tornadic storm off a cold front is like a unicorn in storm chasing as far as I’m concerned. Just don’t see them. I could ramble for a long time as to the reasons why, but odds are if you read my blog you have at least some basic understanding of meteorology and forecasting tornadoes so you probably already know most of what I’d say and I don’t want to bore anyone with a ramble. Soooo, the key for tomorrow in my opinion is avoid the cold front style portion of the frontal boundary. I will be focused like a laser on low level winds tomorrow. The models have been hinting at a little mesolow along the boundary that may help to locally back low level winds a bit more immediately east of the mesolow. That’s where I want to be where shear profiles and boundary more (slightly) resemble a warm front. That is where tornado potential should be best as far as Kansas is concerned. Where will that be? Don’t know. The 00Z NAM puts the mesolow in south central Kansas near Wichita with the best parameters between Wichita and Emporia. The HRRR puts the mesolow near Topeka with the best parameters between there and KC. Doesn’t matter to me. My target tomorrow will be based on surface observations. If there is any hint of a mesolow and backing winds I’m getting just east of it.
As far as tornado chances go I think they’re low, but definitely nonzero. My guess is our best chance is early. The models have storms staying somewhat discrete for a while, but I’ve been burned on this exact same type of setup twice this year. First in SE Kansas when I got on a tornado warned storm near Sedan (it was a POS despite being tornado warned) and again in NE Oklahoma. Both setups had a little mesolow prospect and hints of storms remaining discrete for a while. Neither worked out for tornadoes. Given those recent experiences my hopes are low for tomorrow. Still, it’s May and I’ll take what I can get. We chase! Plus I really want to livestream the first tornado of 2020, year of the pandemic, in Kansas. I need that for the resume so I’ll give it a go.
Plan as of now is to leave Wichita at 1. I’ll post a target before we leave town. As mentioned above it will all come down to mesoscale forecasting and figuring out where conditions along the front will be slightly better east of any mesolow.