Tornado/Severe WX Outbreak Expected Thursday

051817 UH TracksA severe weather/tornado outbreak is expected across parts of south central Kansas and western Oklahoma tomorrow. Conditions could be particularly volatile along a warm front that will be lifting north through southern Kansas tomorrow afternoon. Extreme instability and strong low level shear will make the corridor along the warm front particularly favorable for violent storms. Storms should develop near a triple point out towards Dodge City during the afternoon tomorrow, with additional storms developing along a dryline running south from this triple point along the Oklahoma/Texas panhandle border that will track to the northeast through south central Kansas during the late afternoon/evening. The above map shows 0-3km updraft helicity, which provides some indication of how strong rotation will be within the storms that develop. Those are impressive UH swaths and a big red flag for tornado and large hail potential. The Storm Prediction Center has already issued a moderate risk for tomorrow over this area. The excellent thermodynamics associated with strong shear profiles will make this a very volatile setup. I’ll get a forecast up later tonight with more information. South central Kansas will almost certainly be in for a serious weather event tomorrow though, so pay close attention and be prepared. Right now it looks like Wichita will be just east of the more serious tornado threat area, but it’s going to be close and if dryline storms coming up from the south can remain discrete, it very well could post a serious tornado threat for Wichita right after dark. Check back tonight for a full forecast post.

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g13_2017136_1715_ABI_visForecast seems on track still except for I think the strongest tornado potential may stay mostly south of the Kansas border. That may change if convection unfolds differently than short range model guidance and satellite would suggest. Kansas would still have a solid tornado threat, especially with any tail end storms tracking through closer to the border where they have unobstructed inflow from the south. That being said, I just think the strongest tornado potential may stay a hair south of the Kansas border down into SW Oklahoma (see red box on the map).

Blow off from towers is evident on satellite right now in the northeast texas panhandle, so expect storms to fire before too long up there. The HRRR has that initial development pushing northeast into Kansas and possibly becoming a little cluttered as it does. Additional development is expected along the dryline and those storms developing near Amarillo and south of there along the dryline will likely pose the greatest tornado threat, including strong tornadoes. I am running a little late so it is going to be tight for me. I’d like to be in Borger, Texas right now, but instead I’m still up by Minneola cutting south so my options may be limited. Should have got out of town a little earlier, but I had to work this morning. Conditions won’t be real favorable for tornadoes until a few hours from now, but I imagine any storms developing near Amarillo could pose a tornado threat earlier in the afternoon. I’ll try to update again if I can. Good luck if you’re out.

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051617 forecast mapJust a quick update before I get ready to head out. Still no major changes to the going forecast aside from adjusting the threat area for strong tornadoes a little farther south. I did this mainly because I think the chances for discrete storms are a little better as you go farther south. The dryline may have more of a NE to SW orientation to it over western Kansas, which will put storm motions more parallel to the initiating boundary. Farther south storm motions will be more perpendicular to the boundary and more favorable for scattered/discrete supercells. Still the low level jet axis will move into southern/central Kansas, so a strong tornado threat still exists there. I’m just not as confident that convective mode/evolution will be favorable for realizing that tornado potential farther north. My target is still the same. Heading towards Laverne, Oklahoma initially, but I may drop a little farther south from there depending upon the latest trends as I approach my target area early this afternoon. The HRRR is showing several discrete supercells coming off the dryline across the Texas panhandle this afternoon with fairly significant UH tracks, lending more confidence that we may see a tornado outbreak this afternoon. Baseball hail will be possible with any discrete supercell along with several tornadoes. The strong tornado potential will begin to ramp up around 6-7pm as the LLJ strengthens and hodographs enlarge. Any discrete supercell over the area boxed in red should pose a strong tornado threat between 6-9pm.

I am a little torn on my target. I know I’m going to want to drop farther south, but I want to stick close to Kansas to help KWCH with coverage. Given how slow this year has been, I’m leaning towards hunting elephants today and going after the better tornado potential, even if that pulls me away from the KWCH viewing area. We will have plenty of chasers in the field today for KWCH so it’s not a big deal if I’m not there to help out. I don’t know though. It’s a tough call. I hate these days where there is good tornado potential in the KWCH viewing area, but it’s even better just outside of it because I can’t ever decide which way to go. I’ll make that call as CAM guidance and satellite start to paint a clearer picture early this afternoon.

I’ll update from the road through the afternoon. Wheels up for us around 11am. I just got a new windshield put in and not I got to drop Duck off at the baby sitter. After that I’m picking up Ryan who is driving for me today on the west side and hitting the road. I’ll probably update again here in a couple hours so check back if you’re interested.

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Tuesday May 16th Tornado Forecast

051517 Forecast map

I’m going to keep it fairly short tonight because I don’t have a lot to add and I want to chill out for a bit before bed since I’ll be on the road for god knows how many hours tomorrow. My plan right now is to leave Wichita between 11 and noon. I’m planning on heading towards Laverne, Oklahoma initially. There are roads going every direction out of there so I’ll probably check data there and make my final adjustments. Storm motions are going to be pretty god damn fast tomorrow, so I am not keen on hugging the dryline. I’m going to position a fair ways downstream to make sure I have a good enough lead to pick the right storm and stay ahead of it until I think the tornado threat is ramping up. I haven’t seen any chasers talking about the storm motions, but 45-50mph is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, I think 40mph is about the cutoff for where you can realistically keep up. Storms are likely to exceed that speed threshold tomorrow, so I want to stay downstream at least initially.

When storms will fire tomorrow and the extent of storms is a big question mark still. The models have been all over the place with both. I am still looking at data so I don’t have any strong opinions yet, but my guess is we’ll get storms firing along the dryline from SW Kansas down through the Texas panhandle between 4-5. That’s pretty much a guess. I pray to god they don’t go early because the conditions don’t become real favorable for tornadoes until closer to 7pm and it is key that storms are discrete during that 6-9pm window for the tornado potential to be realized. I think that screwed up the tornado potential on Wednesday of last week with that OFB triple point storm in north Texas. It fired too early and then by the time the parameters became supportive later in the day, the storm had already turned into a clustered mess of competing cells that went outflow dominant. The same concern exists for tomorrow. The parameters over most of the warm sector will not be very favorable for tornadoes until later in the day. Once low level shear ramps up around 7pm though, hodographs are fairly impressive, especially over the central portions of the area I boxed in red on the above map. If storms fire at the right time so there are discrete supecells tracking through that area later in the day when low level shear increases, then I think there’s a chance for a strong tornado.

I am still just getting into my forecasting, but I did start to glance at moisture. The moisture coming on shore in SW Texas right now is what is forecast to advect into the target area through the day tomorrow. Dewpoints are in the upper mid and upper 60’s over the southern part of Texas right now. The moisture wasn’t really all that deep with the Corpus Christi sounding (about to 900mb), but I think moisture can only be a mitigating factor tomorrow, not a deal breaker.

Another concern is the slight S shape to hodographs after 00Z, but I’m not terribly worried about that either. It’s not the real pronounced backing in the mid levels that can really screw things up for tornado potential so I think we’ll be alright. Again like moisture I think it’s more of a mitigating factor than any sort of potential deal breaker. The timing and extent of convection are my biggest concerns with tornado potential getting ruined tomorrow. CAM guidance in the morning should provide a lot more light on that.

Alright, enough for tonight. I think SPC will hold with the enhanced tomorrow, but if things come together right I could see probabilities getting upgraded to more like 10% hatched for tornadoes for portions of the area I boxed in red on the map. Good luck if you’re going out. I’ll update regularly through the day tomorrow so check back if you’re interested.

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Forecast Update

051417 Wednesday May 16 Forecast Map

Just looked over 12Z NAM run and no changes to the going forecast. My previous map posted above is still on track. The 12Z run of the NAM has actually strengthened low level shear around 00Z and the NAM is holding extremely steady with discrete supercells going up in the NE Texas panhandle and tracking northeast into Kansas during the evening. SPC and other formal forecast outlets (media) are still keeping pretty quiet on the tornado potential. That shakes your confidence a little bit when your thinking doesn’t line up with theirs, but I learned a long time ago it’s better to feel like an ass putting your own opinion out there and being wrong than it is to hold your tongue and realize after the fact that you wouldn’t have looked like an idiot. That being said, I’m all in on this one and shoveling coal on the hype train #choochoomotherfuckers lol.

One minor issue is that hodographs have been showing some backing up around 500mb after 00Z. 1km SRH is a little bit better in recent runs before 7pm, with the NAM showing around 150 over the area in question. 0-1km SRH and 1km shear blow up after 00Z and with adequate moisture (which I think we’ll have), thermodynamics in conjunction with solid shear profiles should be favorable for a strong tornado threat before the boundary layer decouples later in the evening.

I am also afraid my fears of outrageous chaser convergence is going to come true with this one. At least in my opinion, there isn’t much question where the best tornado potential will be. The high resolution NAM is the only model data I’ve seen that would make you question targeting the area I boxed in red. It doesn’t show much in the way of UH tracks and what it does show isn’t coming out of the NE Texas panhandle. I put little stock in that through at this stage and I plan on going where the parameters are best, regardless of what the high resolution NAM is selling. Anyway, this is setting up for a grade A shit show of chaser convergence.

I’ll be keeping an eye on model data and update regularly, so check back if you’re interested. My initial target is looking like some place near Laverne, Oklahoma. I’ll look at data and probably adjust a little bit from there to the SW, but that looks like a good downstream starting point with good road options.

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I just checked the 00Z NAM and no major surprises. Basically everything looks the same. One thing I keep forgetting to address is the width of the warm sector. The NAM keeps showing a relatively narrow instability axis due to cloud cover keeping surface temps down out over the warm sector, with clearing only immediately ahead of the dryline. You can look at 850mb RH and see the saturated areas correspond with the lower surface temps across the warm sector. The GFS has been showing the same thing, but not quite to the extent of NAM. This could be a bit of an issue, especially if storms fire earlier in the afternoon. Storm motions should have a pretty strong northerly component to them. Even right mover projected storm motions are northeasterly, so although it doesn’t help get them off the dryline and into better quality air quickly, NE storm motions do increase residence time in the stronger instability axis when it is narrow like it may be on Tuesday. I feel like that was a run on sentence lol. Anyway, it’s a consideration but it certainly wouldn’t affect my chase plans. It just may be a mitigating factor to how long storms may be able to keep going.

The NAM stuck almost exactly to the same precip output as previous runs with a discrete storm firing in the NE Texas panhandle. The high resolution NAM stuck to its guns too with a number of storms along the dryline, but for some reason the storms that fire in the NE Texas panhandle peter out. The high resolution NAM has been showing that over the last couple runs, but I don’t put much stock in little details like that.

My plan is still the same. I am going to leave Wichita around noon and head for the far eastern Oklahoma panhandle. I’ll probably setup shop there for a while until I see how cumulus fields are evolving and then possibly drop a little farther south. Just depends on where it looks like storms are going to come off the dryline. I always cheat downstream though so I’ll err north with my initial targeting. The 00Z NAM has conditions already quite favorable for tornadic supercells over the NE Texas panhandle by 00Z. That area spreads north into southern Kansas through 03Z. The sig tornado is spiking where the stronger 850’s/low level shear is and that’s where I intend to be. The parameters being forecast are supportive of strong tornadoes with any storm tracking through that area so it may end up being a good day. If we only get one discrete storm tracking through that area it is going to be a god damn mess of a chasers out there. I imagine early some people will target farther south along the OK/TX panhandle, but there will be a lot already up there where I plan on targeting. Then if short term CAM guidance shows a lone supercell coming out of the NE Texas panhandle, it’s going to suck in all those people targeting farther south. It has the potential to be a shit show of monumental proportions if things play out that way. I think we will probably get storms coming off all along the dryline though so hopefully that will thin the herd a bit.

That’s it for tonight. I’ll update tomorrow morning if I get a chance. Otherwise I’ll get something posted tomorrow night so check back if you’re interested.

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Tuesday May 16th Forecast

051417 Wednesday May 16 Forecast Map

I’m still waiting on the 00Z NAM to come out, so I may make a brief update later tonight after I get a chance to go over that. For now I’m just working off of the 12Z and 18Z runs. I also skipped over Thursday’s threat for this forecast post. I want to wait until the NAM to pick up on it tomorrow before I start talking about the extent of any tornado threat. So for now, the focus is all on Tuesday’s setup.

A dryline will already be in place over the western plains Tuesday morning. The moisture gradient should tighten along the dryline through the afternoon (see afternoon dryline location drawn on the map above), with dewpoints in the mid 60’s expected ahead of the dryline in Kansas and Oklahoma. That’s a little better moisture quality then what it was looking like we may get a couple days ago. Telling when storms will fire is still a bit tricky this far out (it’s tricky even a couple hours before it happens to be honest lol), but my best guess is 4-5pm. It appears as if discrete storms will develop along most of the dryline from SW Oklahoma up into northern Kansas. The area of greatest interest for me though is going to be any storms developing along the corridor I boxed in green on the above map. I like this area for a couple reasons. One is that the area downstream of that area is where the best CAPE/shear overlay should be. Another reason is there may be a bit of a dryline bulge somewhere in that area/moisture gradient may be a bit tighter. This area has also been the most consistent in showing precip with the models for quite some time now.

The environment should be quite favorable for supercells with moderate instability and 45-50kts of deep layer shear. Storm motions will be northeasterly so discrete supercells should be the favored mode of convection so long as the dryline has a north-south orientation to it. The NAM has been wanting to put more of a NE-SW orientation to the dryline farther north in Kansas while keeping more of a N-S orientation farther south. The GFS keeps a N-S orientation. Either way, storms should get off the boundary just fine over the area I’m interested in. Low level shear doesn’t really pick up until around 7pm. Before 7pm conditions are only marginally favorable for tornadoes, but once shear ramps up around 7pm hodographs enlarge dramatically and will be quite supportive of tornadic supercells. There has been a VBV tendency to hodographs after 00Z with the models, which is a bit of a concern, but I’ll wait until tomorrow to get into that. Anyway, as it gets close to dark 0-1km SRH is forecast to be around 300 with 1km shear improving dramatically. As that happens, any discrete supercell tracking through the area I boxed in red on the map could pose a threat of strong tornadoes.

I need to call my mom for mothers day right now, so I’m going to leave it there for now, but I may update again here in a bit once I see the 00Z NAM. I still feel like this is an upper end enhanced risk or possibly a moderate risk over the area I boxed in red. I’d probably go 10% or 15% hatched on the tornado probability map, depending upon moisture quality and low level shear. Right now I’m planning on targeting a storm developing along the dryline somewhere between the Meade, KS and Pampa, TX area. I’ll probably target somewhere in the far eastern Oklahoma panhandle initially. I want to place downstream from where I think the storm I want will fire so that I don’t get my pants pulled down if something goes farther north. It’s easy to catch a storm coming at you, not so easy to catch one going away from you. Alright, gotta call mom so that’s it for now. If I don’t update again here in a couple hours check back tomorrow for update.

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I drank quite a bit of vodka last night and am dragging ass this morning as a result. Didn’t get out of bed until a little after 11am and have been battling a hangover ever since. Due to my condition, I have only glanced over model data. I need to go clean up my car and get everything ready for chasing this week and then I have a mothers day dinner at 6, so I’m going to wait until later tonight to post a forecast. The NAM has trended a little closer towards the GFS, which is good news for Tuesday if you want tornados. The NAM now at least has some convection developing along the dryline and the high resolution NAM has storms developing all along the dryline. I honestly was never worried about getting storms though so that’s no big relief for me at least. I still think there is a pretty decent shot at a few tornadic supercells on Tuesday. It’s not a real good setup. The thermodynamics and shear profiles are pretty so so with this one, but they are good enough to support tornadic supercells, especially in the 6-9pm window as low level shear ramps up and hodographs enlarge. I’ll get into a little more detail with tonight’s forecast map and put the surface boundaries and area I intend to target on there. I still think the area around the KS/OK border looks the best for tornadoes. Anyway, sorry for not posting this morning but I’m in no shape for deep though and evaluating model data. I need to save that for later today after the liquor has worked it’s way through my system lol.

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5/13/17 Forecast Update

051317 Forecast Map

I really don’t have a whole lot to add to my previous posts. My feelings regarding the setup for Tuesday has stayed right on track with each model run. The NAM picked up on this setup with the 12Z run and shows weaker parameters with the dryline a little farther west. Usually that’s the opposite of what you can expect between the GFS and NAM. The NAM is usually the model that juices things a bit too much and shows stronger parameters relative to the NAM, but that’s not the case this morning. The GFS has been pretty damn consistent though run to run so for now I’m not going to worry about the NAM much. I’m also not going to spend much time forecasting or posting today. I have some things to get done today and I plan on going out tonight so I really don’t have much time for screwing off on the computer. Sunday is my day of rest and forecasting though so I will roll up my sleeves tomorrow morning and take a closer look at things.

Thursday’s setup is starting to become a bit more clear. It is strikingly similar to Tuesday in both location, spatial extent and parameters. It’s hard to tell I have two separate threat areas on the map for Tuesday and Thursday because they basically are on top of each other.

As far as Tuesday goes, the NAM keeps it dry with no precip coming off the dryline. I’m going to call bullshit there though (which is one more reason why I’m disregarding the 12Z NAM run). The GFS continues to initiate storms along the dryline from SW Oklahoma up into central Kansas. The strongest and most consistent signal for precip has been along the KS/OK border, which is where I intend to target at this point. I think there are two distinct targets people are gravitating towards for Tuesday and that is the KS/OK border area and the SW quadrant of Oklahoma. Either one is good. There has been a bit of a veer, back, veer trend with hodographs along the KS/OK border area that doesn’t seem as pronounced over SW Oklahoma, but that wouldn’t be enough to pull me away from Kansas since I want to help KWCH out with coverage. I’ll take a closer look at forecast soundings tomorrow and start to really pick apart those details.

Anyway, I gotta get some shit done so that’s it for today. I still think Tuesday looks like a moderate risk, especially over the two areas I pointed out as potential chase targets for Tuesday. SPC may stick to an enhanced risk for this one though strictly because it looks like storms will be very sparse with possibly only a few discrete supercells. You have to remember they are kind of forecasting for a different purpose and storm coverage, density of reports is a guide for them. I think more along the lines of how strong any given storm may be and I do think there that although this isn’t a real good tornado setup by any means, I do believe that there is strong tornado potential. Check back tomorrow for an update. My plan is to forecast and get a post up tomorrow morning whenever I get up.

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5/11 Extended Forecast

051117 Extended Forecast

It looks like next week will likely be the most active week for severe weather that we’ve had in the plains so far this year. How extensive any tornado threat will be is still a bit hard to judge since finer scale details are a much bigger factor in determining tornado potential, but the large scale pattern is obviously supportive of several rounds of a more general severe weather threat.

The Gulf of Mexico is going to take a beating this weekend as northerly winds on the back side of the east coast trough push dry air south. Low level winds don’t start to become favorable again for better quality moisture advecting back into the plains until Monday as a high amplitude west coast trough begins to nose into the plains.

Monday is the first day of interest, but it’s a lower tier of interest lol. I’m afraid moisture quality is going to be an issue. A dryline will be tightening up over the western edge of the plains, but it doesn’t look like there will be enough time for better quality moisture to move into the plains and pack in along the dryline by Monday evening. This will largely preclude any tornado threat that otherwise would exist. The GFS has been showing some precipitation along the dryline, so it is something to watch, but I would expect any tornado threat on Monday to be lower end. I could be wrong though. Low level shear will be quite strong, so if we can get storms off the dryline and they can work out into better moisture over the warm sector before the boundary layer decouples, then that could possibly open the door to better tornado potential. The primary area of interest for Monday should he ahead of the dryline from central Kansas down into the Texas panhandle, which I’ve highlighted on the map above in yellow.

Tuesday looks to be a bigger day. It’s still a long ways out so you can’t take details too seriously yet (let’s not forget how many times the GFS has burned us this year and prematurely started the hype train #choochoomotherfuckers lol). That being said, the GFS and ECMWF have been consistently depicting this as a fairly strong trough transitioning from a neutral to a negative tilt as it ejects into the plains Tuesday afternoon. That should get your attention when it happens in May. I am concerned about moisture quality a tad. I do not think moisture quality has any real shot of being a deal breaker for Tuesday, but it could be a mitigating factor. With higher end setups like this, the difference between a couple strong tornadoes and a major outbreak can be slightly better moisture quality/very strong instability vs. just moderate instability. Right now it looks like a moderate risk type tornado day. Stronger instability or shear profiles being a little better could easily nudge this up into more of the major tornado outbreak type parameters though. It also looks like this could be a fairly widespread event. The best tornado potential has been focused either side of the Kansas/Oklahoma border area with the GFS, but parameters supportive of tornadoes should exist across a large area ahead of the dryline from North Texas up into Nebraksa. It’s a textbook plains severe weather setup. It looks good enough that I canceled a business trip I was supposed to go on Monday and Tuesday so I could make sure I was here to chase. I don’t miss major tornado days in Kansas and this setup is showing the potential for that at least. Again it’s a long ways out and a lot can change, I’m just saying the potential is there for a moderate to higher end tornado setup. It is still a little far out to get into any real detail, but I’ll just hit on the handful of things that I do think you can put some weight in and are raising red flags for the severe/tornado potential. As I said above, the models have consistently shown a high amplitude trough that is taking on a negative tilt as it ejects into the plains. That’s important. The strength and tilt of the trough along with moisture availability are the biggest things I watch in longer range forecasting. The mid level jet associated with this trough is forecast to have 500mb winds in the 55-60kt range Tuesday. That’s good, but it’s not great. A lot of the major outbreaks this time of year have 70kts at 500mb, so again good, but not great. Dewpoints are forecast to be in the low to mid 60’s, which should get the  job done. It’s not ideal, but low 60’s would get us by for a solid tornado threat. With the trough just taking on a negative tilt we should have stronger wind fields over the warm sector, but still have decent directional shear to work with (when you start to get a more negative tilt you loose the turning of the winds with height). And finally the broader details would imply that neither morning storms working over the warm sector or storm mode should be problems. With a north south dryline and storm motions to the northeast, discrete supercells are very likely to be the favored mode of convection during the evening. Alright, so just to sum things up in my opinion if you take the models literally at this stage 5 days out, it looks like a moderate risk for tornadoes to me (I’m speaking in SPC terms, if you don’t know what that means then you probably don’t need to know). I’m keeping a close eye on this setup so I should update regularly.

After Tuesday, my attention is focused on Thursday, Friday and Saturday as the west coast trough fully moves into the plains. There will be severe weather chances in the plains on Wednesday with SW flow aloft, but I look at it as more of a lull in the action between the two primary troughs moving through the plains. Thursday looks like there could be some good dryline storms across the western plains, with SW Kansas and Texas looking like the best areas. Friday looks like it could be a more widespread severe weather event. I’m a little concerned about shear profiles and how favorable they’ll be for tornadoes since mid/upper winds may begin to back and take on more of a meridional flow look. Another potential issue is precipitation over the warm sector botching things on Friday and Saturday. That always seems to be an issue with multi-day negative tilt troughs like this and a lot of times it tends to push the best tornado potential a little farther south than you may have anticipated to where the southern edge of where earlier storms tracked through and moisture quality with uncontaminated air is better. For that reason I’m thinking the greatest tornado potential for Friday may end up being down in the southern Oklahoma and north Texas area. That’s a total guess at this point btw lol. Anyway, we are looking at tornado potential on any one of those three days from Thursday through Saturday. I’ll start to get into it more as we get closer.

Alright that’s it for tonight. I should pretty much be posting daily now that we actually have something to talk about, so check back for updates if you’re interested.

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