warm front 051817

The warm front is pushing into Wichita right now. The feeling in the air is about to change real quick as this happens. Dewpoints will jump about 20 degrees and it’s going to start to feel like a tornado day as the sun breaks through. The warm front coming through Wichita is a couple hours later than previous model guidance from the NAM suggested. That in addition to a couple reasons has me leaning towards the 06Z high resolution NAM guidance which puts the triple point slightly farther southeast than previously thought. This would serve to increase the tornado threat for Wichita IMO. Still some uncertainty regarding convective evolution today, which is the primary uncertainty regarding the extent of this tornado outbreak. I am just now getting into model data, so give me a couple hours to look over things and then I’ll get my forecast map updated. See my previous post from last night for details. My thinking regarding the extent of the threat and how it will play out is still the same, just a modest adjustment southeast with the surface pattern is all I’m thinking right now.

For those in south central Kansas and Wichita, this is the first high risk for Wichita issued by the Storm Prediction Center in 5 years. The last time we had a high risk is the night Wichita got hit by an EF3 tornado in 2012. If storms are discrete this afternoon, it will be a deadly serious threat. Pay close attention to the weather and take warnings seriously. There are only one or two days a year where parameters come together like this and pose a major threat to life and property. This is one of them. Watch KWCH for coverage. We will have the entire chase team out and they are staffing news crews across the threat area. There is a reason KWCH is number one. Although I’m biased, KWCH hands down has the best severe weather coverage in Kansas. Plus I’ll be on there so that’s where you want to go for weather information lol.

I will update again regularly today so check back for additional details.

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Significant Severe WX Event Expected Thursday

051717 Forecast Map

A significant severe weather event is expected over portions of central and south central Kansas and NW Oklahoma tomorrow. Strong tornadoes and very large hail will be possible and there is a real threat to life and property so if you live in that area pay close attention to the weather tomorrow afternoon and evening.

A very moist air mass with dewpoints in the mid to upper 60’s will move north into the plains tomorrow east of a dryline and south of a warm front. The warm front will be lifting north into southern Kansas tomorrow morning. It looks like the warm front will slowly start advancing through Wichita around 8am or so, which will most likely make for a bit of an eerie feeling in the air. It will be very humid and hazy as the warm front lifts through and I absolutely love those types of mornings in the spring where you can just feel it’s a tornado day. That should happen tomorrow morning when the warm front pushes through. By afternoon a dryline will run from near Dodge City south along the OK/TX border, with a warm front running east/west roughly along a Dodge City to Newton line.

Okay, so the surface boundaries stage is set. See the above map for the rough locations of where I expect the surface boundaries to be around the time of storms initiating tomorrow. Storms will likely develop off the north side of the surface low in the moisture wrap around area in SW Kansas first. The high resolution NAM has been very consistent in showing that. Those storms may pose a lower end tornado/hail threat, but moisture quality will likely be an issue. The more significant storms should develop along the dryline, starting near Dodge City where the warm front and dryline come together. What time exactly storms will fire is always tough to know. My guess is 4-5pm. With SBCAPE around 4000 ahead of the dryline and 50kts of deep layer shear the environment will be very favorable for supercells and storms could be explosive when they initially fire. Storm motions will be perpendicular enough to the dryline that discrete supercells should be the favored mode of convection. That being said, I do have concerns about how tightly packed in storms will be coming off the dryline and how long they will remain discrete. I’ll come back to that here shortly.

Judging the extent of the tornado threat tomorrow is tricky. The devil is in the details with tornadoes and everything has to come together just right for you to get higher end tornado potential. The parameters will be there to support it tomorrow. Initially 0-1km SRH is not that strong over the open warm sector. The exception will be in the vicinity of the warm front where backing surface winds will have low level shear supportive of strong tornadoes all through the afternoon. After 7pm 0-1km SRH strengthens over the open warm sector in NW Oklahoma and south central Kansas and the entire area I boxed in red on the map becomes supportive of strong tornadoes. Below are forecast soundings for tomorrow. The first one is from up around Greensburg and the second one is from NW Oklahoma.


NW Oklahoma sounding

If you look at the hodographs you can easily see how much larger the low level portion of the hodograph is closer to the warm front near Greensburg than it is in NW Oklahoma. That is one way of looking at low level shear. The easier way would be me posting a 0-1km SRH map, but COD’s new page doesn’t let me copy those maps any more so I won’t lol. Basically though, low level shear is going to be strongest along the warm front and after 7pm it really starts ramping up across the warm sector. One of the tricky things about tornado forecasting is that you can have great parameters all day long, but if you don’t have favorable convective evolution, namely discrete storms, then that potential is not going to be realized. How convection unfolds tomorrow is going to play a big role in how bad of a tornado event this is.

I plan on heading to Dodge City for my starting point tomorrow. The exact location of the warm front and dryline are still a little uncertain, so I may adjust slightly from there, but the triple point is my target and it will be somewhere around there. I think a triple point storm will go first. Hopefully there is a lag in time and/or space between when a storm develops at the triple point and other storms start firing farther south along the dryline. If that’s the case, conditions should already be supportive of tornadoes near the triple point and if a storm coming off the triple point is able to remain discrete for a period of time it will most likely produce tornadoes and very large hail. Triple point storms in general and especially ones on days like tomorrow with a negatively tilted trough have a tendency to get sloppy after a while. I’m guessing that will happen tomorrow, so as soon as I see the storm getting sloppy or losing it’s tornado potential, I’m bailing east and getting out ahead of any dryline storms coming up from the south. That’s my chase plan for tomorrow. If I weren’t doing that, another good play might be the tail end play and going for a more discrete/tail end storm down around I40 in Oklahoma. That would most likely be easier chasing with a photogenic storm option, but I’ll stick with the more hectic and volatile Kansas play.

Time to wrap this rant up lol. I am virtually certain we will get tornadoes tomorrow. The parameters are too strong in the right time of year for us not to get tornadoes. The question is how bad will it be. The parameters will be there to support strong long-track tornadoes if there are discrete supercells across the warm sector all the way until dark. The question is how discrete will storms remain and how long will they stay discrete. My guess is storms will be more tightly packed than I’d like coming off the dryline, but there will be a handful of dominant supercells that track from NW Oklahoma into south central Kansas capable of strong tornadoes as they do. Around dark I imagine they’ll start to fill in more, reducing the tornado threat with most storms, while any tail end or remaining discrete storms still pose a tornado threat after dark.  I think we are probably looking at a major severe weather event with some strong tornadoes. It’s the type of day you need to take very seriously if you live in the threat area. There are usually only a few days a year where there is a high risk to life and property from severe weather and tomorrow is one of them.

It should be a little more clear how storms will unfold with morning CAM guidance, so check back then if you’re interested. I’ll be posting regularly through the day. Once I get on a storm I post pictures to Facebook and twitter, so you can follow me on either one if you want to see my pictures while I’m in the field. If you are chasing tomorrow be careful and good luck.


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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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