We left Amarillo, TX at 9 this morning after a quick forecast discussion in the van, with a destination in Northeast Colorado to watch initiation. We ended up in Holyoke, CO and followed a storm onto the border of CO and NE, which lost strength. We then drove to the Ogallala, NE area and saw amazing mammatus clouds and an also amazing lightning show! Goodnight from Ogallala, NE!!
We woke up today and had our forecast discussion in Lubbock, TX. We all did a surface analysis
for where we thought our target was going to be. After the discussion, we all agreed that the area from Lubbock to Childress to Amarillo, TX was going to be the best area for severe weather. We headed out and stopped in Paducah, TX for lunch and ate at a little hole in the wall drive in. Our orders took longer than we anticipated, due to the fact that they did not have anything prepared. By the time we all got our meals, thunderstorms had already initiated northeast of Floydada, which was about an hour away to our west. We got there once it went severe, even tornado warned. Despite the warning, this storm did not appear from our vantage point to put down a tornado. This storm did have a strong inflow, which ingested a lot of dust from the surrounding farm land. This storm ingested so much dust that the rain from this storm also had mud imbedded within the rain drops. The outflow of this storm also kicked up so much dust that it caused blackout, more like orange-out, conditions
to where we had to pull off the road and wait for it to pass. We also saw plenty of land spouts,
and dust devils.
We left the storm later due to the fact that it lost its rotation. By this time, we were near Spur, TX and we changed our mindset from chasing to eating. We decided to go to the Big Texan in Amarillo, TX
for dinner and while we were there, we witnessed someone take on and complete the 72 oz. steak challenge with only 13 seconds left in the hour long challenge. With bellies full of steak, we all headed our hotel and rested for what is going to be another day of chasing.
We started the day in Georgetown, Texas and headed toward Lubbock, Texas around 9:30. There was no severe weather around the southern plains region, so we had more of a laid back travel day in order to be in position for the next day which had a slight risk for severe storms out for part of the Texas panhandle. Much of the day was spent traveling through cactus territory. For lunch we stopped at a place called Chuy’s,
which was best described as a whole in the wall. From Chuy’s we headed Northwest toward Lubbock, Tx which sits on a giant plateau known a the Texas caprock. Our elevation by the time we reached Lubbock was over 3,000 feet. A few dust devils were spotted along the way. Although there were no storms, we still had some action.
We stopped at Reese Research Facilities, which is Texas Tech’s Meteorology facilities, for a brief tour. The facility is home to Vortech, the tornado simulator.
They also had two radar trucks which they have used to conduct research of hurricanes and tornadoes.
From there we headed to our Hotel and then out to dinner at Triple J’s, a local restaurant with amazing food. After dinner we all headed to bed, resting up for what looks like a more active chase day.
We started off the morning in Gainesville, TX. After a forecast disscussion the group decided to target around Hillsboro, which is just southwest of Dallas. We ended up riding with the storm to Belton.
The storm was already slightly organized before becoming part of the larger scale MCS. There was some rotation on it, but the lack of good road networking made the storm unchaseable. The above image is what we were seeing in Belton. After leaving the storm, the group then visited the Jarrell Memorial Park.
This memorial park is in honor of the EF5 that came through Jarrell on May 27, 1997. Now we are trying to make our way north to the panhandle of Texas to get set for the next couple of days.
We began the day in Tulsa, OK with a moderate risk from the SPC covering a large area from the OK/TX border into sections of Arkansas and Missouri. A tornado threat was definitely noticeable as the main focus covered much of Oklahoma. We decided to head towards Duncan, OK after a brief morning discussion.
There was very favorable upper level winds with a considerable amount of instability and moisture convergence near Duncan. Day 2 was more favorable for tornadoes as things seemed to stay more isolated which would enhance the strength of individual supercells. Storm motions were a little slower than the first day, which would help our driving situation and keeping up with the storms.
We arrived in Duncan around one to eat lunch and wait for the storms to initiate. Our first storm system started firing up slightly after we arrived. We followed one supercell for a while before falling back as the cell to the south seemed to be gaining strength and looking more favorable. We noticed our first funnel cloud of the day around 2:30.
This funnel cloud never officially touched down at this point. We traveled east a little for a while before we noticed a tornado on the ground from a longer distance as we had to reposition due to another storm moving into original area.
This tornado seemed to be on the ground for a few minutes before lifting up. Several minutes later we noticed a tornado around the same area that dropped down. We can not conclude that this was another tornado or that it was the same tornado that had just lost some of the strength from before.
After this storm lifted we followed this storm just past Pauls Valley but never saw anything else drop. As this evening of chasing was coming to an end we moved south to position ourselves in Gainesville, TX to be in position for the next day.
Our hearts go out to those impacted in the Moore, OK area. This was a truly devastating event and they are kept in our thoughts and prayers.
Post and Photos by Andrew Schuler
We started the day in Wichita, KS after a brief chase on our travel day. The SPC had already outlined the day with a “Moderate Risk” over north central Oklahoma into southeast Kansas, with one risk being tornadoes. The group gathered for our daily forecast discussion at 10 am and decided to initially target the Arkansas City, KS to Ponca City, OK area.
This was an area beneath a jet streak at 500 mb and also a strong 850 mb low-level jet which was expected in increase into the evening hours. Instability was more than sufficient with values over 3000 j/kg and bulk shear were also sufficient over the entire region. Furthermore there was a dryline bulge forecast to move in very close to the OK/KS border just south of Wichita. There were a couple of issues for the day, one being that the cap was nearly non-present by early afternoon which allowed convection to initiate early and possibly become clustered by the late afternoon hours when the atmosphere was a little more favorable for tornado development. Also storm motions were much faster than our previous day in the realm of 20 to 30 knots; that however is still very workable.
We left Wichita and moved east and south and ate lunch in Winfield, KS. We then drifted south to Arkansas City and around 2:30 storms began to fire along a boundary just west west of I-35 and southwest of Wichita, so we moved west toward the storms particularly one just southwest of Wichita. As we approached the storm from the southeast the rotation was strengthening and a tornado warning was issued for the storm. Then around 3:20 (now moving east down a dirt road) we spotted a funnel cloud just to our north which briefly extended a condensation funnel to the ground and thus became our first tornado of the trip. The tornado only touched down for a matter of seconds before lifting.
We continued to travel northeast with the storm to Wichita. We never saw another tornado from our vantage point southeast of the storm but a radar imagery denoted that the tornado was likely blocked by rain. Indeed other
chasers reported another tornado around this time. As the storm moved into the populated areas of Wichita, we moved south to developing supercells on the southern end of the line. We continued stair-stepping down to the southern supercell along the line for much of the rest of the day and while rotation was present and lowerings in the clouds noted near the updrafts, nothing appeared to be close to producing a tornado. We ended the chase just east of Ponca City and moved southeast to Tulsa to spend the night.
The trip started bright and early this year as the group decided to leave Bowling Green at 4 am on Saturday morning in order to possibly chase some storms in southern Kansas. The trip usually requires a full day of travel before the chase begins but because the risk for severe storms in Kansas looked worth going for, we made the decision to leave early to try to catch them by the evening hours. It was a win-win situation for the because even if we didn’t see storms we would be in position to chase a seemingly better day of storms on Sunday.
By 8 am we were in Southaven, MS to pick up Dr. Grady Dixon and we quickly headed north and west through Arkansas and Missouri, arriving in Kansas by early afternoon. With our target in the Pratt, KS region we pushed west through Kansas to try to make it too storms which would soon be imitating. We didn’t expect to arrive by initiation time and indeed storms did initiate when we were in the Wichita area. As we pushed toward the Pratt region we dropped south to move onto a cluster of storms moving across the Oklahoma border into southern Kansas. The storms initially showed some weak signs of rotation but the storms became very clustered around the time we arrived in the area. Because of this and the shared cold pool by the storms, the storms became outflow dominate. Outflow dominate meaning the winds were being pushed out of the storm rather than being drawn in (inflow), which is ideal for tornado development. The storm exhibited some nice structure, with nice shelf cloud and whale’s mouth cloud features. The strong winds in the outflow of the storm also created some blowing dust. As the sun set, we called it a day and moved back to Wichita to stay the night to be in play for another “Moderate Risk” day on Sunday.
Well, here we go!!! Dr. Durkee, Dr. Dixon, and 8 students embarked on the 4th trip to the Central Plains. The kicker for this trip is that we left at 4:00 this morning, so we could possibly get to Pratt, KS in time to see some initiation of storms. Let’s hope that this early morning start brings a successful day of chasing. (WP)
It’s that time of year again when WKU storm chasers set out on their annual adventure to forecast and document severe weather in the US Great Plains. Dr. Josh Durkee, associate professor of meteorology/geography, along with Dr. Grady Dixon, associate professor of meteorology and climatology from Mississippi State University will lead the group comprised of 8 WKU undergraduate/graduate students (see WKU News Story). This capstone meteorology course more formally known as “Field Methods in Weather Analysis and Forecasting” is comprised of both an in class portion of the course and two weeks of forecasting and storm chasing in the Great Plains. This year’s course kicked off this Monday with the classroom portion of the course. Throughout this past week students have practiced their forecasting skills by examining past severe weather events and they have been closely studying weather forecast models for the upcoming week.
The weather pattern for the majority of the year thus far has not been favorable for tornadoes, which has led to one of the least tornadic time periods in recorded history. The pattern appears to be changing however which will make severe convective storms more probable. The group has been analyzing the best possible day to begin the two week chase. The pattern setting up is bringing the risk of severe storms in the Great Plans by Saturday and continuing into early next week. This has allowed the group to either plan to start the chase Saturday or Sunday depending on the severe weather setup. The distance to reach the Great Plains requires a full day of travel to the Great Plains so the group must leave a full day before the first chase day. With that in mind we needed to decide to leave Friday to chase Saturday or leave Saturday to chase Sunday. While storms appear likely in both Kansas and southwest Nebraska on Saturday, ultimately the group has decided to wait to start the chase day on Sunday which looks to bring a better probability of severe weather along with a better tornado potential in an area from Iowa to Oklahoma. The chase looks to continue into early next week in the south-central Plains. These areas of interest are generally outlined by the Storm Prediction Center’s severe weather outlooks for Sunday (red) and Monday (purple).
Want to keep up with the action as we travel the plains in pursuit of severe weather? Here’s how to do so:
An upper level low centered over parts of southern Missouri will slowly drop southeastward into Alabama by Sunday. In return, persistent bands of light-moderate showers will continue on its northwestward to southeastward track across the region. There will likely be some breaks in shower activity from time to time this weekend, especially across the Bluegrass region where chances will remain lower than parts of southern/western KY. Areal rainfall totals of 2-3 inches are expected from late tonight through Sunday, as small creeks, streams will rise as larger rivers are anticipated to reach minor flood stages. The slow moving low pressure system will continue to push through the state by Sunday afternoon, as rain associated with the front should exit the region by Sunday night with low overnight temperatures in the low 50’s statewide.
The image above is from the HPC showing the heaviest rainfall amounts across south-central and western parts of Kentucky. The further south you reside, the better chance for higher rainfall totals exist.
Highs for today will be much cooler as rain is expected for many across the state. High temperatures will struggle to reach the low to mid 50’s for folks that are already receiving rainfall. The further north and east you live, along with the absence of rain, temperatures will be a bit warmer with high reaching the low 60’s.
Tonight we’ll continue to see areal showers across portions of the state with chilly temperatures expected. Overnight lows will drop into the upper 40’s to around 50 degrees across the area with cooler lows for folks along western KY. Showers will continue through the evening and overnight hours and the upper level trough slowly push towards the east. Multiple flood watches have been issued by the NWS in Louisville, especially across south-central Kentucky where creeks, streams will begin to flood while rivers reach minor flooding stages. The latest watches and warnings are below as a Flood Watch has been issued from 8/7 am EDT/CDT – Sunday evening for the areas highlighted in dark green.
Sunday will feature more of the same as cooler conditions will stick around as rain chances will continue into the afternoon and evening hours. High for Sunday will struggle to reach the 60 degree mark across many areas, as widespread rain will continue through the day.
Sunday night: Showers Likely. Low 50º. Northeast winds 5-7 mph. Chance of precipitation: 60%.
Monday: Chance of showers and cloudy. High: 65º. Northeast winds 5-10 mph. Chance of precipitation: 50%
Monday night: Mostly cloudy. Low: 52º. Northeast winds 5 mph.