By fall standards, it is looking like we’ll have a relatively high tornado threat tomorrow evening into the night. A combination of both good parameters for tornadic supercells and very fast storm speeds (which can make tornado tracks long even if they aren’t that long lived) are combining to elevate the risk. Additionally the tornado threat looks to be maximized after dark. There’s still a lot of potential flies in the ointment that could disrupt the tornado potential, but the potential is there and it should be monitored closely by residents of southwest and south central central Kansas in closely (the general threat area is broader). I’m trying to watch the SF vs Dodgers playoff game as I type this, so I’m going to jump ahead to a more technical discussion so I can keep this short and make my points quickly. I haven’t posted links to my new blog location or that I’m posting yet so I figure anybody reading it is likely a chaser anyhow and prefers to get to the point.
The warm sector across western Kansas will initially be narrow and somewhat dry with dewpoints in the 50’s during the afternoon. The low level jet is going to be cranking at full throttle though and moisture is going to get pumped in fast with general agreement among short term models showing 60’s moving into southwest/south central Kansas around 6pm (HRRR is a little earlier by a couple hours). The warm sector broadens, especially from SW into south-central Kansas as this moisture advection rapidly occurs. There looks to be a little CINH as well, but SBCAPE/CINH fields improve over the area with this moisture pumping in, preventing the normal nocturnal cap from taking hold. At this same time, already strong low level shear ramps up dramatically, with both the HRRR and NAM showing around 400 0-1km SRH. That’s big. Other common low level shear values you’d evaluate for tornado potential are equally impressive.
The expectation is for storms to develop in a north to south line across far western Kansas in the 5-6 timeframe and rapidly track northeast. Storm motions are very fast. I didn’t look real close and only pulled a few soundings, but I recall one had right motion up around 50kts lol. You aren’t keeping up with that. That calls for slightly different chase strategy I think, but I digress. I’d say 7pm is when the tornado threat may start getting serious. Big question marks on the forecast verifying up to this point is that moisture return is as advertised and there’s not more CINH than anticipated. Maybe storms are delayed a bit if those prove to be problems and the tornado threat could be mitigated. The trough is taking on a pretty hard negative tilt, so I don’t think either of those two things above will prove to be a problem. Maybe the HRRR is a bit aggressive with the dewpoints, but not by much I don’t think.
Once storms fire there seems to be a bullseye for tornado potential in that Dodge City area and areas downstream across SW/south central Kansas (see map below where I think the greatest tornado threat will be). I think it will be a late start time, but I still plan on heading out from Wichita fairly early. Maybe 1-2pm departure time. Biggest potential fly in the ointment seems to be convective evolution, which proved to be problematic for Sunday’s tornado potential in Oklahoma too. If storms coming off in a linear fashion, which I think is more likely as you go north further into Kansas, then that will mitigate any tornado threat. If you get more discrete cells, which I think is more likely as you approach SW Kansas into Oklahoma, then that is when the strong tornado potential can be more easily realized. That picture should be more clear by 6pm tomorrow night. If there are a few discrete cells firing off the west edge of the area I boxed in red, then I think it’s going to be a rough night. The potential seems to be there for a significant tornado setup if things pan out as discussed.
I got a new 4runner and had my first chase in it yesterday in SW Oklahoma. Unfortunately I had not yet got my power inverter that I need to power my power hog of a laptop wired to the battery. Because of that I was planning on using the built in car inverter in my 4runner. I tried it to make sure there were no problems before the chase. The thing didn’t test was putting it in drive while I powered my laptop. Yeah, that was a problem lol. The inverter won’t run 400 watts when you drive so I was working without my laptop in Oklahoma yesterday. I basically said screw it and worked on it in Lawton for a while, but there was no fixing it on the road. I wasn’t going in on an HP with big hail in a new car chasing with just my cell phone and iPad. I have backup software for radar and navigating on both devices, but it’s not the same as on my laptop and I fumble with it. Luckily I got my inverter set up at work this morning, tested it driving and I should be operational once again with my new 4runner. Good thing too, because chasing fast moving storms after dark is extremely difficult and requires good data in the car. It looks to be a challenging late night chase tomorrow. It will be my first time chasing for KSN too, so I need to deliver results. If I don’t update on here tomorrow then you can follow my on twitter for pictures or on Severe Studios for my livestream. If you live in the threat area, be weather aware, especially in the 6pm to midnight window.