Long few days. I covered quite a few miles and a lot of hours were spent in the car. I haven’t totaled it up exactly, but in 4 of the last 5 days I covered around 2100 miles and spent 47 hours in the car chasing. I did run out today briefly, which is skewing my daily average down lol. I wasn’t into it enough to go all the way up north where they had some weak tornadoes unfortunately. Missed out on those. I was busy at work all day. Never even forecasted, but saw the 5% tornado prob from SPC and just glanced over the HRRR. Figured if it was telling the truth and a good storm was going to track close to Wichita then I had better be on it so I threw my stuff in the car at lunch and headed out towards Kingman where new storms were developing. They were worthless. The first forecasting I did was in the car looking at mesoscale analysis page and quickly questioned why the in the hell I was going to Kingman lol. That’s what I get for not forecasting and just taking a 5 minute glance at the HRRR. The backed surface winds along the warm front in northern/NE Kansas was clearly the play if you wanted a chance at a tornado.
As for yesterday, I think we got on the right storm, which ended up producing the tornado by Magnum, but unfortunately we did not see that tornado. I can’t kick myself on that one too much. There was so much haze with the nearly saturated air down in Oklahoma (dew points were approaching the mid 70’s) that you really couldn’t see shit from the traditional distance for watching structure ahead of the updraft. We didn’t want to cross the Red River, so we waited for it like a lot of other chasers on the north edge of the river. I was looking at radar as it approached and kept saying it’s right there, pointing to the southeast lol. We knew it was only miles in front of us, but nothing. It was just too hazy. You had to get right in front of it to see anything. The storm had just absorbed some smaller cells and had got done fighting off the lead cell that had merged with it and was stealing inflow as it became this weird HP storms half merged with the other storm like they were conjoined twins, so I knew it was likely going to strengthen and the tornado potential would be going up, however, the road networks and chaser traffic were far from ideal. There’s a road that cut north and would take you right into the updraft of the storm as it moved through by Magnum, but there were no good east options out of there unless you core punched or dropped in behind the storm and followed it out of there. With fast storm motions and it still being early afternoon with nothing but open warm sector ahead of that storm, I decided the better play was to cut east farther and go north out of Altus to get back ahead of the storm before it produced any major tornadoes. That put us too far away from the storm to see the tornado through the haze and the storm essentially shit the bed not too long after Magnum. Bad call. After missing that tornado I decided to take a much more aggressive line on the storm and put us right in the occlusion NE of Mangum. I had it timed right to get in under the occluding/in the bears cage (it was going HP at this time) until we got to our east option in the hook of the storm and it was a horrible muddy road. lol those moments will make you cringe. Being out in open country with a tornadic supercell/hail core bearing down on you with no place to run in order to get out of the way always gives me a sense of panic and adrenaline that sucks a little at the time, but also reminds me of why I love chasing afterwards. You get to experience the entire spectrum of emotions out there. Everything from extreme fear to extreme exhilaration. We ended up hauling ass north another 7 miles to hit a paved east option and got out of there with just a little whipping around by the RFD and inflow jet. I don’t think the storm had any big hail at the time anyway so we would have been fine. At the time though, we were in a high risk with what appeared to be extremely favorable conditions for huge hail and violent tornadoes. After our time spent in the bears cage the storm had more bullshit cells blow up off it’s south side and it was apparent the tornado threat wasn’t going to pan out so we started making our way back to Wichita.
Looking ahead, I would chase pretty much every day if I could, but I’ve been off 2 of the last 3 days so I have some things I need to get done. I’m watching tomorrow. I really need to be at work, but I may run out to NE Oklahoma/SE Kansas. Thursday looks a little more promising IMO. The models show solid parameters. Supercell composite is quite high with good crossover, but then I step back and say well we have models showing storms going along a front with the HRRR, or out over the open warm sector apparently with the NAM. Storms that go up along a front usually get clustered in and sloppy pretty quickly and storm motions should be parallel to the front, so regardless of what the models show common sense tells you that’s a concern. There’s no real upper level support. It’s basically a nontraditional setup with big composite indices that make you want to believe it’s going to produce. Maybe it’s just because I got burned by that on Monday, but it’s a red flag to me for one reason or another and I’m highly skeptical about it working out. Again models aside, common sense is also telling me that if we do get storms along the front in Oklahoma/SE Kansas tomorrow, they’ll produce early if they’re going to get it done. Just like Monday, on days when things look to get sloppy I always look for the best tornadoes earlier than you’d usually expect. I literally have only glanced over tomorrow’s setup since I’ve been busy with chasing so take it with a big grain of salt. I’ll look at the setup in the morning and try to post my target whether I’m heading out or not.
I think Thursday may be a bit more promising of a chase day. Again I just started looking at it tonight, so I’m not going to get into much yet, but a triple point should set up near SW Kansas. This time we have a good shortwave ejecting into the plains to work with, unlike Wednesday. It’s a much more traditional setup which I think tend not to bust as frequently. Everything looks solid with the models for a good tornado threat except for one little thing and that’s what time storms fire and how they unfold. It looks like an ideal setup for a triple point tornadic supercell. The models kick off storms early in the afternoon though along the dryline in the Texas panhandle. The NAM keeps lighting it up between 15-18Z. That’s too early for my liking, especially when I really need to get a half day of work in at least. I don’t trust the NAM at all on precipitation, but one thing I find disturbing about that is the NAM has consistently been under forecasting precip and initiating it too late with the last few setups. Assuming that strong trend continues then what does that mean when it’s showing storms going off at 15-18Z. I didn’t look at the details much, but again I’ll dig into it tomorrow.
Looks like several more chase opportunities through the holiday weekend, but I need to get to bed so I’ll save that discussion for another day. I’ll probably update several times through the day tomorrow so check back then if you’re interested.