Jun 2, 2010

June 2: A Bit of an Early Exit

I am leaving the Plains about three days early. The pattern is going down to a large extent for tornadic supercells for a few days, so there is no point in sticking around.

The trip was successful in terms of both seeing tornadoes and good photographic documentation, including video, for one of those days. That particular day was one of the best that Thom and i have had together, and ranks with two days in 2004, one each in 1999, 1997, 1995 and 1990.

There were frustrations, including some bungled navigation (which led to incomplete documentation of tornado day 2), too much hemming and hawing about drifting to northest SD on the first tornado day, leading us to miss the biggest tornadoes.

The missed major tornadic supercell on May 31 in se Colorado may make an interesting case study. That storm became a prolific tornado producer. But it occurred in a totally inadequate deep layer shear environment. Only a very odd storm motion, given the wind profile, produced an environment relative to that storm that supported a long lived supercell.

There was no question that the low level shear could spin up a tornado as long as the storm remained existant. That latter issue was one Chuck and I have debated with our other case partners. If we are to learn from this episode, it may be important to go back and look at the radar to see the true storm motions, and get some prxoimity sounding and hodographs.

Whether by skill or my luck, those that chose that target were rewarded, and I certainly hasten to congratulate them. It would have been one of the best tornadic storms that Thom and I would have witnessed, if not the best.

Such is the life of a chaser.

But, we'll be back next year. These trips are always learning experiences. They are also humbling, for when you think you are riding a fast horse to success, the next day, you can be bucked to the ground.

Thom and I thank all of our chase partners....Scott Landolt, Daniel Porter, Cameron Redwine, and Chuck and Vickie Doswell. It was great....

Jun 1, 2010

June 1: north-central to east-central KS

Preliminary target is somewhere betweeen Topeka and Salina. We spent the night in Hays, KS, and noted that the forecast sounding and hodograph for the Topeka area (and a 75 mile diameter or so), is supportive of not only rotating storms, but tornadic storms.

But as the day progressed, it was apparent that the area with the best potential for tornadic storms was "capped", meaning that convection was inhibited by a warm layer aloft that was not eliminated during the day.

So we drifted north to play storms forming on the warm frontal boundary, and still hoping that new storms might form on the curling moisture band back west along and just north of I80.  But while a couple of those storms briefly became supercells, they were rapidly undercut by the cold air north of the boundary.

So we ended up "blowing off" this day with great potential.  Cameron and I then went west to spend the night in North Platte, which was an easy drive into Denver for my 7PM flight.