May 28, 2012

May 28--Rest Day in Boulder CO

Formation stage of Tornado #9, Kingman, KS, May 19, 2012

Important Updates have been made to May 29, May 25 and May 27 blog entries.  More to come.

I've decided to return home a few days I have a flight out on Tuesday May 29.   It was a productive week.

We had beautiful storms to document on eight of the ten days, and good super cells on five of those.   We also had a flurry of tornadoes....nine total, with two of those mesocyclone-induced, and of the rest, at least four of the non-mesocyclone tornadoes ("landspouts") were beautiful, interesting and somewhat puzzling.

I will go back and look at the events of May 19 and May 25 more closely.  All the decisions were correct on May 19.  

On May 25, we tarried to long on the northern supercell, and figured we could not get back to the really obvious southern storm near Lacrosse by we targeted the middle storm, rather than calling it a day, because of the strong inflow into it.  Although we were rewarded with a  good tornado, we were too far from it at dusk to photograph it well.....but WERE close enough to get a good look at the rope out stage, which was far more interesting than the trunk tornado itself.

But it's also clear we missed the big show on the Lacrosse supercell.

For May 26th, a bit of failure analysis is needed to explain in more depth why the storms we saw were not tornadic.  I think I've got the reason, but I've got to look at the actual observational soundings in more detail before I am sure.

Some curiosities that need to be explained include why storms that crossed the boundaries into better air often died....that is the opposite of conventional wisdom.

Thom and I were both gratified by the fact that we made no significant navigational errors...those have plagued us in the past.  Even missing a turnoff by 5 miles could mean missing a tornado..since tornadoes often don't last more than a few minutes.

We were also gratified that we managed to steer clear of the major chaser convergences...except for a brief time near Russell on May 25.  But even then, we were able to find dirt roads away from the mass of people doing the wrong things...including blocking roads, setting up tripods in traffic lanes, and smashing into one another.

All in all, it was an excellent, exciting and fun trip.  However, 4500 miles in 10 days tells the tail in terms of fatigue.  So though there are chasuble patterns the next few days in the southern Plains, it was time to call it a "chase."