Update

Just stopped in Laverne, OK. Headed south I think towards the Wheeler, TX area. I’m a little intrigued by the NE panhandle into southern Kansas later today, but I think we may get a more dominant dryline storm closer to I40 and after getting burned yesterday up north I’m inclined to play it farther south today. I’m still fine tuning the forecast though and as cu starts to show up on satellite I should get a better idea of where storms will fire and what environment they’ll have to work with. The better moisture plume is coming up on I40, so my thinking is it will be in a good environment with a broad healthy warm sector to work with later today. Got hit the road again, but I’ll update when I can. I do expect tornadoes today. Storms may go HP, but if you are on them early they’ll produce before and as they do so there’s a window there for easily visible tornadoes I think/hope lol.

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Update

One more day in the western plains then it’s time to take this show back to my part of the plains. Just leaving the hotel in DDC. Need to go hose some of the mud off and then starting forecasting on my drive south. Need to examine surface charts and figure out where the triple point will be. I’ll update when I do. So sick of mud roads btw. The inside of the car is what bothers me. The dash has mud all over it but that’s as clean as it’s going to get for now.

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Update

Sorry for the silence lol. I had a busy morning and then was driving all day pretty much until I got on a storm so I didn’t have much time to post and didn’t feel like I had a lot to say anyway. I kind of winged it today. I had to take a major detour after last night’s chase to get to my hotel because the road was flooded after I pulled off the storm. Didn’t get to bed until around 2am. Had to see a man about a horse this morning so I didn’t get out of Burlington until 2pm. I wanted to make the Texas panhandle, but I knew there was no way but I did make it far enough south to watch the tornadic supercell NW of Garden City first develop. I tracked along with that storm all afternoon until it go NW of Garden City and the road options went to shit. I was pissed. I followed right along in the notch of that storm until I made a bad road choice and went north east of Deerfield instead of at Deerfield. I had to take back roads which were incredibly muddy. It was fine for a while and they had a little rock to them, but then I hit some really sloppy roads as the rotation really picked up in the storm. I was tracking along just southeast of the occlusion in the notch of the storm, so as the roads got real bad I had to stop. I knew there was a solid 50/50 shot I was going to get stuck if I kept going and it wasn’t worth it for an HP storm that would be tough to see the tornado on anyway (and always a bit scary going in on an HP storm with shitty roads since the winds are usually violent). So basically I missed a couple tornadoes today because of incredibly muddy roads. And it’s not looking like that will change for tomorrow lol.

I just started looking at data so I won’t say much until morning runs. I’m staying at a hotel in Dodge City so I’m already close to my target for tomorrow which will likely be the dryline bulge/triple point area in far NW Oklahoma into southern Kansas. I should have plenty of time to forecast in the morning. I need to hit this one hard and make god damn sure I deliver tomorrow. I missed a great tornadic storm by Big Springs Texas tonight. Little pissed about that. I need to redirect that into focus for tomorrow lol. Anyway, a triple point near SW Kansas, dryline bulge east of there and the dryline extending south through the Texas panhandle will be the focus for storms tomorrow. I don’t think the NAM has a good handle on the extent of tonight’s storms over Oklahoma, so that is giving me a little hesitation on believing much about precip tonight/tomorrow morning. It does appear that we will get very strong instability ahead of the dryline tomorrow, with SBCAPE off the charts by afternoon. Low level shear will be quite strong and it will also be strong early in the afternoon near the dryline bulge, which is always a relief to me. It seems like the days where strong low level shear is already in place and you’re not waiting for the nocturnal LLJ to ramp up are much more reliable about producing. So we have great thermodynamics and good low level shear. The one big thing we don’t have going for us is strong upper level SR winds. That hurts and it means storms will probably want to go HP after a period of time. I hate HP storms, especially on a 5k CAPE day lol. Being in the bears cage on a storm in that environment when it has strong rotation and goes HP has ass kicking written all over it lol. The idea of that ass kicking is already in my head. I just pray to god we have decent roads to work with tomorrow. I’ve been on sloppy mud roads the last two nights. I’ll post a pic of my car tomorrow morning. It is covered in mud and that’s after cleaning it this morning. Back to the topic at hand, I think that the weak SR upper level winds is what’s keeping this from being a higher end tornado event. Everything else is there so long as precip clears and we get good clearing. Dewpoints are in the 70’s just south of precip in Oklahoma and that should work up here tomorrow. That may be the first really juicy moisture we’ve gotten this year into the central plains. I do think we’re looking at a solid tornado threat tomorrow, but I think a good deal of the potential will be mitigated by storms becoming HP beasts. I think we’ll get some tornadoes out of them before that happens to though.

I didn’t look at Thursday’s setup, but I still think the strong upper level winds and high quality moisture point to higher end potential than we’ll see in the days leading up to it. Although we are managing to get good tornadic storms even with these slightly troubled setups.

Anyway, I need to get some sleep. I’ll post in the morning with my thoughts on the tornado threat and my target.

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Today

Sorry for not getting a post up last night. I decided to go to a movie so I was out and never had the time to get it done. I’m sitting in Garden City right now. Just got here like 10 minutes ago and stopped to gas up and check data. I think there are two plays in western Kansas today, one being farther north over the area near and NW or SE of Goodland and then any more dominant storm with undisturbed inflow/tail end down closer to Garden City/DDC and far SW KS area this afternoon. I say that with little to no confidence lol. The HRRR has jumped around quite a bit with simulated reflectivity so I’m not quite sure how storms will come off. The Goodland area is off the north edge of a dryline bulge which is always one of my favorite targets on lower end threat days like today. That area where surface winds back a little more always seem to get it done early before convection fills in. I’d actually lean towards targeting up there, but I’m considering chasing Texas instead of Nebraska tomorrow and if I’m doing that I’d prefer to stay south today. I’m figuring it out as we speak though so nothing is set in stone quite yet. The disadvantage I see to the area farther north today is the narrower warm sector.

I’ll probably post pics on twitter this afternoon, but I’m not sure I’ll get another post up before after chasing today. I’ll get something up once I figure out my target for tomorrow though. Good luck if you’re out today.

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Forecast Update

Just glancing over model data as I wait on my car getting it’s 10k maintenance done. I’m still waiting on the 12Z GFS to update, but no real changes to locations from my previous map from what I’ve seen so far. I am growing increasingly confident in the tornado threat over SW Nebraska Sunday night and possibly into far northwest Kansas. I think a strong tornado threat may develop with any discrete storms late in the day if SR upper level winds don’t cause a problem Storms holding off until later in the day would probably help that since the longer those storms go the more likely they’ll be to trend HP. I’ll take a closer look at that tonight.

Monday is looking fairly potent too, especially along a dryline bulge in central Oklahoma. It’s very similar to Sunday’s setup with strong low level shear and great thermodynamics, but upper level SR winds are weak. That again points towards an HP trend with storms. I’ll get into that as well later tonight.

And I still think Thursday looks to be the big day here. I’m not basing that off specifics I’ve seen with the models though. I’m basing that off the larger scale pattern. Both the ECMWF and GFS have a seasonably strong shortwave with a negative tilt ejecting into the central plains. There should be great moisture in place with dewpoints around 70 and a strong low level jet should setup given the strength of the shortwave. All that points towards a higher end event. The bigger uncertainty this far out would be the impact of convection leading up to Thursday and the potential for 850’s to veer as the upper level jet stream becomes more NE to SW elongated and leading disturbances disrupting the southerly LLJ you’d get with a wave just ejecting into the plains. I want to see some specifics, but again I think Thursday is showing the potential to be a bigger day if 850’s are backed a little more than what the GFS shows. The ECMWF shows a little more favorable solution with regard to the  shortwave and low level wind fields response to it. We’ll see.

I’ll update later tonight and start to get into the specifics of the tornado threat for Sunday and Monday so check back then if you’re interested.

 

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Extended Forecast

extended map

Above is a very rough map showing the best tornado threat area for Sunday, and the general threat areas for Monday-Friday. I’m a tornado chaser first and foremost, so I tried to draw those boxes where I could see tornado potential occurring on any given day (I drew those with a fairly broad brush and I’m sure they’ll get tweaked), so keep in mind the lower end severe threat areas will likely extend beyond those boxes. I almost ran out of colors to use lol. That map will likely change in the coming days, but it’s my best guess at this point.

Little hiatus from the blog lol. I needed to take a few days off in anticipation of a busy week ahead. I have been glancing over the models everyday though and although it looks fairly active, there is still a lot of uncertainty with the exact location and extent of the severe/tornado threat with any given day next week. Due to that I’m not going to get into much detail tonight. I want to see another run or two before I started getting into that level of detail.

Basically what we are looking at is a long wave trough setting up over the west coast bringing SW flow aloft into the plains starting Saturday. High quality moisture with dewpoints in the 70’s currently resides over the Gulf of Mexico. As the long wave trough sets up over the Rockies, high pressure will settle in off the SE US, setting up an ideal synoptic scale pattern for pumping moisture into the plains. Sunday through Friday of next week will be characterized by a maritime tropical airmass over the plains with SW flow aloft, so pretty much any day through that 6 day stretch could pose a severe/tornado threat over some portion of the plains.

The first day with any severe weather threat will be Saturday, but I do not expect any meaningful severe/tornado threat though. Although it looks like decent moisture will advect northward into the west central plains by Saturday afternoon, stronger mid/upper level flow will still be lagging to the west keeping deep layer shear profiles fairly weak. I seriously doubt I chase Saturday unless the stronger mid/upper level winds start to nose into the plains earlier than forecast, which seems unlikely.

Sunday starts to look a little better as stronger mid/upper level winds associated with a southern stream jet streak noses into Texas and stronger winds along the southern periphery of trough moving into Canada overlaps the western edge of the central/northern plains. What looks to be about the biggest dryline you’ll ever see is going to be the focus for convection lol. Below is the GFS 18Z dewpoint map, showing a dryline running all the way from Canada to Mexico. sunday drylineThe NAM has a little different solution at the surface with a surface low a tad farther south in eastern Colorado and a strong moisture wrap around setting up just north of it in SW Nebraska. I trust the NAM more than the GFS and it’s been consistent in every run so far in showing this. Assuming it’s true, which I think it is, I think the greatest tornado threat on Sunday afternoon will be over SW Nebraska just north and northeast of the surface low in Colorado. It is showing impressive thermodynamics and strong low level shear ahead of the dryline bulge and north of the surface low. The upper portion of hodographs don’t look that good, but forecast sounding show almost 50kts of deep layer shear and that should be just fine. I’m just worried that with fairly weak SR upper level winds storms may trend towards HP later in the day when low level shear really ramps up. I am pretty dead set on bagging a strong tornado, so I’m likely heading to SW Nebraska Sunday rather than chasing Kansas. Below is where I think the best tornado threat will be Sunday. If the NAM is telling the truth, I think a strong tornado or two may be possible with any discrete storms over that area late in the day Sunday. In fairness the area farther south in Texas along the dryline looks alright too, but with the mid level jet and a dryline bulge setting up over SW Nebraska, I think the area I boxed in on the map looks better.

Sunday tornado threat

Monday and Tuesday look to be lower end days, but there is little confidence in that this far out. The lead jet streak/trough will be moving off to the northeast and only moderate mid level winds are expected over the plains. However there will be strong instability with high quality moisture in place, so despite the modest winds aloft, these days both bear close watching and very well may be chase days. The area of interest looks to be Kansas and Oklahoma both days along a surface trough/dryline. Tuesday looks to be the bigger of the two days as stronger upper level winds start to move into the central plains. I’ll leave it there for now, but I’ll probably start to elaborate on the setup and threat level tomorrow.

Wednesday will likely have severe weather potential, possibly with the greatest threat in north central Texas, but it doesn’t look like a big day and 850mb winds may be veering a bit which would hurt the tornado potential. I’ll hold off on Wednesday until tomorrow’s forecast post.

Still a long ways out, but I think Thursday and Friday could be the biggest days for next week. The base of the long wave trough starts ejecting into the plains and with it a seasonably strong upper level jet. Given the rich moisture that should already be in place across the plains, the conditions seem to be in place across a large area for a higher end severe weather threat.

Sorry for the lack of detail on any given day, but it really is premature at this point. The details still remain unclear this far out. I’ll be updating every day and will get into a little more detail with each post. This kind of reminds me of the last week in May 2013. I chased 5 days straight, with the final day being the El Reno tornado. It’s the most consecutive days I’ve ever chased. I was absolutely exhausted by the end of that week and got to top it off with my car windows getting blown out lol. Hopefully that doesn’t happen this time. Although there is high confidence we will get tornadoes in the plains next week (you don’t get troughs coming through the plains with good quality moisture and not get tornadoes this time of year), it’s tough to pin much down this far out. My best guess is we are looking at lower to moderate end setups, with maybe a localized higher tornado threat over some portion of the plains Sunday-Wednesday and then the potential for higher end events Thursday and Friday. I am probably going to chase Sunday. Monday and Tuesday could be close to home so I will likely chase both those days. Then I am thinking I”ll probably take work off Thursday afternoon and Friday to chase both those days if things still look on track for higher end events. That’s going to be 5 chase days out of 6 for me. I’m excited for it obviously, but I’m going to be dragging ass by the end of the week. Thankfully it all looks to wrap up on a Friday so I’ll have the weekend to recover. I’m going to get my 10k maintenance done on my car tomorrow so I’m all ready to rack up another 5k miles next week lol. I’ve put 10k on that car so fast. It doesn’t take me long to rack up mileage during chase season. Last year was fairly slow and I still covered 9,800 miles chasing.

That’s all for tonight, but I’ll try to make a quick post at lunch tomorrow and then I’ll get a new forecast post up tomorrow evening/night.

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Today

I am on the road now. Just went through Greensburg and am headed towards the Stratford, TX area. If you believe the HRRR, then it’s leaving very little doubt about where to go today. It has been extremely consistent in putting off a supercell or two just west of the far western OK panhandle in CO/NM. These storms track east/southeast through the afternoon will new development off it’s south side. The HRRR has also shown the tail end storm putting off impressive UH swaths. My plan was to split the difference between the dryline near I40 and the triple point last night until things became more clear. If the HRRR stays consistent over the next couple runs and satellite seems to back it up then I’m committed to starting near Stratford. I still think it’s a lower end tornado threat and I do think we’ll see some tornado reports today despite it being a mediocre setup. I’d really like to see better low level shear earlier in the day. It’s May though and things have a way of coming together this time of year. If it’s May, you chase. I’ve gotten burned on that twice this year and I’m not going to let it happen again today. I’ll update again here in the next hour or two.

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Forecast Update

This is going to be about as short as I make forecast posts. I literally have only taken 10 minutes to look at the models tonight, so don’t put much stock in this. I think I know how I’ll play tomorrow’s setup, but I want to firm it up in the morning after I’ve had a little time to look at data. My current thinking is that I’ll head out to the northeast Texas panhandle south of Liberal to start. Storms are forecast to develop near the triple point and build/track to the southeast kind of filling in an arcing line along the moisture wrapping in. What initially is a warm front in southwest Kansas will begin pushing back south quickly as a cold front late in the day. Storms could initiate along that, the triple point and the dryline. The extent of convection along the dryline is very much uncertain, but hopefully will be more clear by morning. My guess is we’ll get dryline storms, despite the models not wanting to show it happening right now. There are a few concerns with tomorrow. Low level shear is not that good for tornadoes except for maybe with a triple point storm until late in the day around 00Z as the LLJ ramps up. With that being the case and a cold front crashing south effectively propagating they triple point southeast through the afternoon, convective evolution is a concern over the northwestern portion of the target area SPC outlined. My plan is to be close enough to the triple point by early afternoon to move in on it if I want, but I’ll likely cheat east out ahead of it a ways to see how things are playing out on satellite. I think the safest play is to position yourself for any tail end storm coming through the Oklahoma panhandle/northern Texas panhandle late in the afternoon. At the same time by cheating east I’ll keep the dryline north of I40 in play. If it looks like there will be a discrete dryline storm, then I’m dropping south. I think that would be the best play tomorrow for tornadoes, but at this point it’s just a bit unclear how extensive storms will be along the dryline. As a fall back plan I think the tail end of any convection working through the NE Texas panhandle and adjacent portions of Oklahoma area later in the afternoon will also have a tornado chance. Low level hodographs get pretty good between 00-03Z. The key tomorrow is being on the storm that can realize that potential by being a discrete storm later in the day. Anyway, that’s my preliminary target for now, but it will likely change once CAM guidance and satellite shed a little light on convective evolution tomorrow afternoon. I’m a little concerned about just in time moisture, but it should be less of an issue as you move east off the triple point and get later into the day and that’s the real area/timeframe of interest anyway. I’ll update again in the morning once I get more time. I do think we’ll see some tornadoes tomorrow. Maybe even a couple decent quality ones. Basically I think it’s a lower end tornado threat, but we may get a sleeper strong tornado out of the deal if things play out right. I need to watch game of thrones and get some sleep so that’s it for tonight.

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Update

Sorry for the silence. I am giving a talk at a school Tuesday morning and as is typical I put off getting my shit together until the last minute lol. I’ve been working on it since like 9am this morning with only a few breaks. I’m almost done though. I have about 30 minutes of work left on video editing before the last clip is done and then I’ll take a look at the updated model runs. Between getting ready for the school talk and getting packed I haven’t logged much forecasting time over the last two days. I still think I have a pretty good feel for the setup, but I’m a little uncertain on how it will play out for tornadoes. Anyway, I’m going to finish up my video editing and then I’ll get a post up. I just wanted to get a status update posted because I’ve been getting a fair number of hits and haven’t said much for a while. It was making me feel kind of bad lol. I can’t get into it much tonight though because I really need to get to sleep. I’m sure I’ll be on the road tomorrow night driving home until at least 1am and I’ll only have time for a few hours of sleep before I have to get up Tuesday morning to drive to NE Kansas for the school talk. I’m going to be dragging ass so I’m trying to get as much sleep as I can tonight. Give me an hour or so though and I’ll try to get a quick forecast post up.

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Forecast Update

The models are absolutely killing me. Still a fair amount of uncertainty with details surrounding Monday. Normally I wouldn’t care this far out, but I’m supposed to go talk to kids at a school so knowing at least the location and rough extent of any tornado threat this far out is kind of important this time. Generally speaking, the GFS has been pretty consistent in showing a solid tornado threat with a dryline and triple point over the western plains. The GFS has jumped around a bit moving the triple point north into west central Kansas and farther south in SW Kansas with a dryline extending through far western Oklahoma. The shift north was only for a run or two, so SW Kansas has generally been where it wants to setup the triple point. Then you have the ECMWF, which is slower bringing the trough into the plains and we may not get anything if that were to verify. The NAM doesn’t pick up on Monday afternoon’s setup until tomorrow morning, but because of the spread between the GFS and ECMWF I started looking at it 84 hours out just to see how it pairs up with the GFS. It was fairly similar with this mornings run, but now the 00Z shows some cause for concern. It’s actually still very similar with the upper air pattern, and probably looks a little better at 12Z Monday than the GFS, but there is now a big discrepancy with moisture return between earlier runs of the GFS and the 00Z NAM. The GFS has high quality moisture moving into Oklahoma by 12Z Monday. The NAM on the other hand has high quality moisture lagging to the south across central Texas at 12Z Monday. Hopefully it’s an anomaly because otherwise it could be problematic. I just hope to god the models come into better agreement tomorrow morning. I hate the uncertainty and I need to figure my plans out.

That’s all I got for tonight. I worked until 7:30 tonight and worked out after so I haven’t had much time to focus on forecasting. I also have to get up at the ass crack of dawn tomorrow to finish getting ready for a deal at work so I need to get to bed. Check back tomorrow though and I’ll get more information on Monday’s setup posted.

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