October 12th Tornado Forecast

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.

Tornado Threat Returns to the Plains

It continues to look as if the fall tornado season in the plains is getting ready to start with two distinct opportunities in the plains in the coming days. The long range models have done a very solid job on picking this up a long ways out. I originally commented on it back on September 30th with my last blog post and I had been watching it for several days before that, so it’s good to see the GFS doing a decent job again. The first opportunity will be tomorrow across SW, central and SE Oklahoma. The second opportunity will be on Tuesday across a large portion of Kansas and Oklahoma.

I’m in a big hurry at the moment. I got a new car a few weeks ago so I have a tight schedule today between running errands and getting my equipment set up in the new car. I’ll probably post some pictures on here of it once my equipment is setup if you’re interested. Then I have plans to meet friends out tonight to watch games and do a little drinking. Need to keep it low key though since tomorrow morning I need to hit the road at a decent time for SW Oklahoma. I’ll keep the forecast brief for now, but later tonight I’ll try to get a little more posted.

It looks like for tomorrow the easy target for max tornado potential is the triple point. There are some concerns about CINH and coverage of surface based storms. The triple point has the best chance of going and shear should be quite strong downstream of there along and south of the warm front where surface winds will be backing strongly. There should be a good window for semi-discrete cells coming off the triple point before a line begins to fill in later in the evening. Given the impressive shear profiles and decent thermodynamics, I would say a strong tornado is possible. It’s not a real good tornado setup, but for fall it’s pretty solid. There’s some differences in the exact location of the triple point with the various models, but I’m thinking somewhere between Altus and Childress is where the triple point will likely develop sometime during the late afternoon, early evening tomorrow and that is where I’ll be.

Tuesday may be an even more potent setup for tornadoes, but there’s some timing issues with the trough coming in a little later than I’d like to see. Still a ways out though. With tornadoes, the devil is in the details and it’s still a bit tough to resolve those this far out. The moisture quality looks to be quite good for this time of year and shear profiles will be very favorable for tornado supercells. CINH and coverage of storms off the decline seems to be the big question mark at this point. If we get numerous discrete supercells coming off the decline, then it could be a big day. We’ll see. I haven’t looked at it in much detail yet since my focus is on tomorrow’s setup, but with storm motions normal to the boundary and a neutral tilt to the trough, anything we can get off the dryline will likely remain discrete for a while.

Alright, gotta run so that’s all for now. I’ll try to forecast later tonight though after I get home and post a few more details then. Plan is to be on the road by 10am tomorrow heading for far SW Oklahoma.

Extended Forecast

With fall approaching, it is time to start watching the models again for tornado potential in the plains. Fall season is traditionally pretty hit and miss, but if we do get a good tornado setup in the plains it usually happens in October-November. Right on schedule, the GFS has been consistently hinting at the polar front jet returning to the plains around mid October with a fairly large amplitude trough. Previous runs had shown a more favorable synoptic scale setup for tornadoes, but more recent runs have trended towards a less favorable large scale setup with a weak closed low anchoring over the SE US ahead of this trough. This far out I’m not going to ramble about details, but this would be an impediment to good moisture return ahead of this more significant trough. Previous runs also had a more favorable tilt to the trough as it ejected into the plains. Later runs not so much. I’m keeping an eye on it though and if it looks like there will be any potential I’ll continue to post on it.

I should stay on top of blogging a little better now. I used to post forecasts constantly during chase season at my old site, but it was really becoming a time hog so I quit for the last year or two. I think the better solution is just posting less frequently. It got to the point where it felt like a job and it made me not want to do it. I think if I just do it when I really feel like I have something worth saying about the forecast though it will return to being something I enjoy. I’m not going to set up comments because managing the spam is a pain in the butt, but if you do have something to say to me you can utilize the contact page email or form to get ahold of me. Anyhow, there’s something to pay attention to in the models again so I’ll be keeping an eye on it and if it is looking like we may actually get a decent severe/tornado setup I’ll get some more detailed posts with some graphics up soon.

August 1, 2021 Update

I have made progress recently on getting my website up. I’ve been simultaneously learning this new software as I add my base content for each page. I’m at the point now where I know the software fairly well, so I just need to finish adding content to my About Me page and then I’ll probably make some stylistic changes, like adding a footer icon (working on that this morning). As soon as those things are done I need to adjust the page layouts to work across different devices (desktop, cell phone, tablet) because right now it will scale real weird on anything other than a wide screen desktop, which is what I’m working on. That kind of needs to be done after I finish up the things above, so there’s a sequence here. I may have all that done within days. All depends on how much time I put towards it. The Olympics are on and it’s a Sunday, so I may not get a whole lot done today with the website. We’ll see.

In other news, hurricane season is knocking on the door. Technically it’s been hurricane season for some time, but I don’t get serious about it until we get into peak season. We are coming into the front end of where hurricane activity in the Atlantic traditionally starts to really ramp up though, so it’s time for Mikey to get ready. Below is a graph from the National Hurricane Season showing this.

As far as hurricane chasing goes for me this year, I plan on chasing any Cat. 4 or higher that hits the US. I’d probably go for a Cat. 3 if it hit the gulf coast. Anything weaker than that, I’m not really interested. I don’t like leaving my own country and the warm embrace of Lady Liberty, but I’m starting to warm up to the idea of heading to the Yucatan Peninsula if there was a cat. 5 too. I have some complicating factors to deal with this year though. I’m supposed to get a new 4runner in about 10 days. That’s been a real pain in the ass trying to get my hands on a new car during the pandemic. My 4runner is still in great shape, but the mileage is getting up there so it’s time to upgrade. As soon as I get my new truck I need to get some equipment installed so it’s chase ready. I’m going to have a 3000 watt inverter installed in it. My laptop I use for chasing is an absolute power hog so I have to have an inverter wired direct to the battery to even power that. I have a lot of other equipment too. Currently I get by with a 700 watt inverter wired direct to the battery, but I figured I might as well move to a bigger inverter and then I can put a Keurig in the back lol. It will be nice camping or hurricane chasing to make a quick cup of coffee rather than having to use my Jetboil or propane stove to make it. I could even put a little microwave in back if I wanted. I think that’s a little too much though. I don’t eat much chasing/camping, but I do like coffee and this will make it easy. I want to install a new grill guard with a 30″ amber bar behind it for driving at night in the rain too and I plan on swapping out the roof rack that comes on it. Lots to do. The main thing is getting the inverter and my Ram mounts installed right after I get it. That’s the bare minimum I need to hurricane chase and since I’m getting this car right as season ramps up, I need to get on it quick so I’m ready to go.

Further complicating my hurricane chasing plans is work. Usually I can take off pretty much whenever I want, however this year we are in the middle of an ERP system upgrade and I have training scheduled for three different weeks right in the middle of hurricane season. If a cat. 5 hits one of those weeks, I’m going to be so butt hurt about it. Let’s just hope that doesn’t happen. I also have a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park planned for September 24th. I like to watch the elk rut out there so although I could cancel that trip for a hurricane chase if I wanted to, but it would take a beast of a hurricane to get me to do it.

Anyway, as I wrap up getting my website completed (at least a rough draft completed, I’m sure I’ll improve and add to it going forward), expect more blog posts. I’ll be keeping an eye on the models for hurricane season so as soon as there is something to watch I’m sure I’ll get information up on that as well. Check back for updates if you’re interested and as soon as I have the website building done I’ll really start to focus on improving my blog.

Forecasting Blog

Check my blog for my thoughts on upcoming forecasts, my chase targets, in the field mesoscale updates and insight on how each chase played out. I stick to weather in my blog and if you’ve followed it in the past at it’s old location then you probably know what to expect. I’ve drug out getting my new website up and running, but as of July 2021 I’m moving along fairly quickly since chase season is done and I can focus on other priorities. I’ll be busy building out my website for the next few weeks, but as hurricane season heats up I’ll start making blog posts so check back for updates.