May 20, 2011

A Mess of Storms Today: No Significant Focus, and Limited Tornado Potential

Thom and I are sitting in a grungy Ramada Inn in Salina.  Right now we are thinking about the area southwest of Pratt into northwest Oklahoma this afternoon. As Roger points out, the deep layer shear is expected to be fine there this afternoon. I'm afraid that the low level shear looks very weak....but that is where the models suggest sort of a dry line bulge, perhaps a weak surface low to amplify surface flow. The CAPE field appears adequate. Not a very good setup, but it's what we have got to work with.

Complicating things a bit on a day that is already pretty much of a that the best forecast hodographs are around Topeka.  But with lots of CIN left over from the day's convection.  So that area is, of course, out.

I still like the area between Wichita and Pratt or so....the RUC shows that weak low in sw KS and nw Oklahoma.  If we can get the winds to stay backed at the surface with some decent flow....then the very good 500 mb flow of 45 knots or so SW winds COULD yield a supercell or two.  There are outflow boundaries sloshing around too that might add a focus and also a source of low level solenoidal vorticity that could be tilted into the updrafts.  

There are so many CONS today, it's pointless to list them all.   And it looks like there might be a sucker line of storms that develop early.  Both the HRRR and RUC, with their high FAR,suggest isolated cells west of Pratt around 22 UTC or so, after that other line goes through.

Fortunately, we don't have to go far today, as we are currently in Salina.  Right now, our target is around Pratt.  But we might hang around a bit in Salina to see how the wind fields resolve.