Storm Chase 2021: Day 2!

Hello, everyone! Here’s a recap of Day 2 of our Storm Chase Trip. It was definitely an interesting forecast and it left us having to make some difficult decisions.

We started the day off in San Angelo, TX with a forecast discussion. Within the last two days we had traveled 1,640 miles, so it was a more relaxed morning since the travel distance wouldn’t be as long. We began the forecast discussion at 10:30 AM and remotely included the EMDS (Emergency Management and Disaster Science) 504 class through zoom.

Atmospheric Setup

The SPC had outlined the central and south Texas within a slight risk. During the forecast discussion on Tuesday morning, the focus was on an outflow boundary and dryline moving into central Texas from the west. There was a closed low was still positioned just east of the four corners bringing divergence aloft for lift which is what also aided in producing the tornadic supercell from the day before. High values of theta-e near 350-360K were advecting from the Gulf into south central Texas bringing warm, moist air to aid in lift at the surface.

500 mb heights and winds with accompanying Theta-E maps. (COD Weather)

Target Discussion

The original plan was to continue east into Texas to catch the cells that would form from the interaction of the outflow boundary and the dryline. Due to the lack of shear the cells that initiate would be disorganized and form into a linear storm mode very quickly. Looking into the future going that far south would put us out of position for future chase days that would be in the northern High Plains near Wyoming and Montana. We decided to begin to head north and target Amarillo to set up for the night and prepare for the next day of driving into position.

A dewpoint map showing a dew point filament into Montana. That’s what we’re wanting to head! (COD Weather)

The Drive

After we decided the best course of action for our day, we set out and headed north towards Amarillo. We made a brief stop for lunch at Jimmy John’s before we left the city to give us a break from Subway. On the dry, flat farmland, we caught sight of quite a few dust devils! About halfway into our trip, we took a detour to chase a rogue cell that was producing some small hail. A surprise chase! This took us into Seagraves, TX.

Radar view and our view of the Seagraves cell. Look at that rain shaft!

We chased this cell for about an hour driving in, out, and around the storm. We saw lots of blowing dust from localized downbursts, large rain shafts, and even caught sight of some small hail! A small notch began to form, so we watched the swirling dust closely. However, we never saw any funnel clouds or tornadoes, but some other chasers reported a small funnel after we left the storm.

We ended up having to leave the storm to ensure we make it to Amarillo to have supper at The Big Texan, a WKU Storm Chase staple! We had to celebrate seeing two tornadoes on Monday with some steaks and fun times!

We stayed the night at Amarillo to get ready for the next day’s forecast and chase. Stay tuned for the update!

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Day 1 of the 2021 Storm Chase

Day 1 of storm chase was a memorable day. Many people in the class saw there first tornado in person.

The SPC 1300 UTC Outlook for 5/17/2021

The Setup

There was a cut-off low over the four corners region, creating divergence over the Texas Panhandle and central Texas. A dry line was in place near the New Mexico-Texas border, moving east with time. The dry line was the biggest forcer for these storms. The dew points east of the dryline were in the 60s with higher values advecting from the Gulf of Mexico. The Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) was extremely high across the region as well. The lift, moisture, and instability were present to create severe storms. Wind shear was lacking upon initiation of the storms, but the 500 mb jet streak arrived just in time to create rotating supercells before these storms turned into an MCS.

Frist Storm Chase of 2021

Yesterday, the storm chasing class left Hays, KS at 8:00 am to head to the Texas Panhandle. We drove over 8 hours through Childress and Paducah, Texas to get to our target south of Lubbock, TX. We got there just as storms started initiating at around 4:00 pm.

Funnel cloud

Around 6:30 pm, a rotating supercell started to form as the 500 mb jet streak entered the area. At 6:54 pm a tornado warning was put in effect for the supercell. At 7:11 pm, we saw a tornado from this supercell.

Composite Reflectivity from Radarscope of the Sterling City Tornado
The Sterling City Tornado north of Sterling City, TX

As we were driving to get ahead of the storm, we watched the tornado become rain wrapped. We found a good spot and the tornado, which had lifted, re-emerged from the rain and touched down again. The supercell eventually merged with some other cells and became a line of storms. That evening we drove to San Angelo, Texas and spent the night.

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Today in Weather History

On this day, in 2003, the Atlantic saw its first tropical storm to form in the month of April. For the most part, Tropical Storm Ana remained out at sea, though it did impact Bermuda and Florida. More specifically, Bermuda saw gusty winds and sporadic rainfall whilst Florida saw an outgoing tide. This caused for a boat to capsize, killing two of its occupants. This storm produced peak winds at 60 miles per hour and achieved a pressure reading of 994 millibars. Below is a photo that shows the “eye” features of the rather scattered storm.

Tropical Storm Ana (2003)

That’s all for today! Have a great weekend and break!

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Prepare For Sub-Freezing Temperatures

Good morning, everyone! We hope all is well!

Today will be a stunner, with sunny skies and calm winds. Tomorrow, however, is what you need to prepare for. As of now, the National Weather Service has our county under a Freeze Watch from late Wednesday night (1 AM) to early Thursday morning (9 AM).

At the very start of Thursday, will have sub-freezing temperatures sweep through our region, posing a threat to vegetation and unprotected outdoor plumbing. To protect plants, make sure to cover them before you go to sleep Wednesday night so that they are able to pack in heat and survive the below freezing temperatures that are possible. To protect outdoor plumbing, make sure to wrap or drain any pipes that would be vulnerable.

Stay prepared!

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A cool shot ahead!

High pressure building in eastern Texas will bring cool air from the North and West, giving us a cool kick for the remainder of the week! The high for today is 68 and the low is 44. Overall we start the day with a mix of sun and clouds before clearing occurs later in the afternoon. Definitely enjoy these conditions if you can because these warm temperatures do not stick around for long! A cold front comes through on Tuesday, bringing with it cooler overnight lows. The potential for widespread frost comes Wednesday night into Thursday morning with lows in the mid 30s. If you have any outdoor plants or animals, plan on bringing those in for the time being! Stay tuned for more information as we track the latest conditions for you. 

Be safe and have a great Monday!

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Dry today, wet tomorrow!

High pressure will be dominating your Friday, keeping our region dry and sunny! Daytime temperatures will be flirting with the mid 60s so definitely take advantage of these spring-like conditions if you can! We go to sleep to temps in the mid to upper 40s so it’ll be a chilly late night and early morning Saturday. Enjoy this break because it doesn’t last long as we are watching the potential for scattered showers to roll in through the region before 1pm. Afterwards though, expect clouds to clear out some for a partly cloudy and mostly dry remainder of your afternoon! Sunday also looks dry with highs in the mid 60s again!

Be safe and have a great weekend!

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Beautiful End to the Work Week

Good afternoon, everyone! We hope that you are having a wonderful week so far!

Tomorrow, our region will once more be dominated by high pressure, promoting the abundance of sunshine and a lack of precipitation chances. Because of this, we want to remind you to have sunblock and protective accessories handy to combat the very high UV Index that is anticipated. As for temperatures, our high will reach the upper 60’s and our low will drop to the upper 40’s. Overnight, showers will move into the region, being relatively brief and light in precipitation amounts. These will remain isolated into Saturday, up until around noon.

Thank you for reading! Enjoy your weekend!

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Partly cloudy and breezy today!

Clouds will be on the increasing side as a cold front passes through the area. Isolated showers are possible throughout the afternoon, though we are not expecting a complete washout. After your dinner time though, expect rain chances to decrease significantly as clearing occurs. The high for today is 60 and the low is 45. It will feel a little cooler than what we’ve been seeing lately! Definitely bring a jacket with you if you are headed out the door during your late night and early morning.

As always, be safe and have a great Wednesday!

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Today in Weather History

Good afternoon, everyone!

On this day, in 1999, Texas witnessed a remarkable hailstorm that stretched as far as two miles wide. These storms had impressive downdrafts with winds peaking around 80 miles per hour, causing for golfball-sized hail to pelt houses, breaking windows and impairing wooden structures. Fortunately, no lives were lost. However, up to 60 families were displaced due to damage to households, mainly mobile homes.

Have a great day!

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Sunny and warm Monday

A sunny start to the week as the region gets dominated by a high pressure system. Most of the rain from this weekend has shifted to our east. This will bring southerly winds giving us a warm kick. Daytime temperatures will be in the mid 70s with a high of 76. Lows will be in the upper 40s with a low of 48. Our next chance of rain comes tomorrow night, so enjoy the dry start while it lasts! Overall, we stay mild this weekend which is seasonable for this time of year.

Have a great start to your week

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