"Cold-core" setup?? I am planning to chase far eastern NE/extreme western IA tomorrow as it looks like there could be a localized sweet-spot near or just north of the developing surface low by early-mid afternoon… as a powerful upper low ejects northeastward. The NAM and RUC models both depict a north-south quasi-stationary front position north of the surface low which may act as source of rich vertical vorticity which seems to be a very important ingredient for tornadoes near closed cold-core upper lows. I am heading to Kansas City this weekend anyway, so this chasing location really won’t be all that bad for me… as I’ll be heading back "home" home (Overland Park) after this chase to spend the rest of my 3-day weekend with fam and friends. Below is a surface forecast chart from this evenings NAM model run with the white transparent oval indicating my first-guess target area:
Significant tornadoes from western Nebraska to the Texas Panhandle. The preliminary LSR tornado reports from this evening add up into the 60s I think so far…with a number of long-lived, significant tornadoes. Early reports are that there is major damage in or around Benkelman, NE…Bird City, KS…Holly, CO. In Southwest Kansas… a prolific supercell produced tornadoes from east of Meade northward to west of Dodge City to west of Jetmore to west of Ness City. Had this supercell tracked 7 or so miles farther east… then significant damage could have resulted in Jetmore and Ness City this evening. Take a look at this radar image below from around 9pm when this tornadic supercell was over western Hodgeman County, KS west of Jetmore… what a classic fish-hook!! It doesn’t get more classic than this (see below). About an hour before I left to go home, we started getting our first damage reports from in western Ness County of farm houses either severely damaged or destroyed. We’ll know a lot more tomorrow.
Marginal supercell storm near Fort Morgan, CO. I hooked up with Tony Laubach and a couple of his friends from the Denver area for much of this chase… and we intercepted a fairly gorgeous storm during the mid evening hours in the Fort Morgan-Brush area after pathetic, disorganized storms dominated much of the late afternoon and early evening. A corridor of mid 40s dewpoints in the Akron to Fort Morgan area advected far enough to "energize" this storm with real nice structure after sunset. Not much time to post more details, but they will be forthcoming soon, along with a bunch of photos. Tomorrow’s chase looks really, really interesting as the compact upper low comes out into eastern Colorado. Here’s a sneak-peak photo from this evening’s great looking storm:
Target: Akron, CO. Interesting day today. This is one of these really marginal days that could make me look like a fool if nothing happens…or a genius of something picturesque develops by early evening. The big problem with northeastern CO today will be moisture. Winds are light and out of the northwest currently (~8:30am CDT) over northeastern Colorado with dewpoints in the 30s… not exactly what you look for in your target area…however, all the models suggest winds will rapidly veer to the east-southeast by this afternoon. The question is how fast the moisture can race back northwest to meet up with the strong forcing for ascent which the NAM and RUC certain suggest quite well between Denver and Akron or so by 00z. It will be a late show. I was briefly tempted at a secondary target near Clayton, NM, however, my gut just wasn’t feeling it…despite the better moisture. Boundary layer temperatures per NAM and RUC show warmer temps up in the high plains of Colorado east of the front-range, so lapse rates will be steeper farther north it appears…which would compensate for moisture deficiencies and strong forcing for ascent to get a good storm to develop. It seems there’s really no rules for Colorado convection… if you have upslope winds and insolation and just a little bit of juice, anything can happen. Chasing farther north will put me in better position for tomorrow anyway, which looks more promising than today’s chase.
Since I have 3 days off this weekend, I have decided to make a chase trip out of it. It does not look like the best chasing opportunity to ever come, but there’s certainly a chance at picturesque storms where I love to chase — the central H igh Plains. Friday 3/23, it looks like upslope flow will advect enough low level moisture into northeastern Colorado…along with steep low-mid level lapse rates…to promote a decent chance of chaseable storms…and perhaps a (marginal) supercell. I’m thinking of an area around Akron, CO for starters tomorrow. A nearly stationary upper low over the Southwest will lift north-northeast on Saturday 3/24 into eastern Colorado. At this time, it appears an area from far northeastern CO into far northwestern KS and far southwestern NE (what I like to call the "CONEKS" region) will be the best area for interesting chaseable storms just downstream of the ejecting upper low. With two days looking good enough for me to get me out the door this early in the season, I am pretty much making a "Go" decision, leaving early tomorrow morning for Northeastern CO and probably staying the night somewhere in Northeastern CO for Saturday’s setup. A couple charts below from this evening’s NAM model run show my first-guess target regions for Friday (top) and Saturday (bottom):
This will be my first good test at my "virtual chasing" on Underthemeso.com where visitors to the website can keep up with my near-current location out on the Plains. My main front page at www.underthemeso.com will be directed to a secondary index page made especially for monitoring my storm chase. I’ll have that setup for both Friday 3/23 and Saturday 3/24.
Gordon, Rock Chalk, and more Heat! The short trip to Arizona has come to a conclusion. I’m sitting at our departure gate with Jon, David, and Lori getting ready to head to Denver for our connection back to Kansas City. It was certianly a fun, but short trip. On Saturday, we watched the Royals practice in the late morning, which was the best opportunity to get closer to the players. I was able to get some good photos at practice with my 80-400mm lens. After practice we headed to the game which was at 1pm. Gil Meche pitched — his first couple innings were alright before he got shelled in the 4th. Saturday evening we met up with friends of Lori (David’s wife) who live in the Tempe area. We hung out around Mill & University, the "hotspot" so-to-speak for college nightlife. Anyway, on Sunday (yesterday), we tried to get both Royals baseball and KU basketball in despite both playing at the same time. The Royals were playing the Giants in Scottsdale, and the plan was to catch about 3 innings of the ball game before high-tailing it to a nearby bar to watch KU vs. Kentucky. A bar called the "Upper Deck" in Scottsdale is a KU alumni watch party location, but since it was packed we found another location in Scottsdale to watch the game. KU won, Alex Gordon hit a homerun towards the beginning of the ball game (which I got a great photo of, see below!), so it was quite the good day yesterday. More record heat in Phoenix on Saturday — 2nd straight day of 99°F for a high. The temperatures will be returning to more normal readings in the 70s later this week after we’re gone… of course!
High Heat and Billy Butler. I’m out in Arizona this weekend with friends from home (Overland Park) watching spring training baseball… our team the Royals (no jokes or I’ll slap you). Anyway, after a big giant cluster F&%( fiasco with our flight out here (pushed back because of over-booking), we arrived in Phoenix Friday morning. The Royals played the Mariners in Peoria, however it was mainly the "junior varsity" Royals team out there, since the "A" team usually doesn’t travel and play away game. Billy Butler was in the lineup though, and if you haven’t heard of him before… well he will likely be a household name in a few years with the Royals. He had two smash doubles and two walks, despite the loss. That was really the only bright spot in yesterday’s game. Oh my god it was hot… the high yesterday was 99°F!! That was good enough for a record, indeed, and was one degree away from tying the all-time March record in Phoenix of 100 degrees. A far cry from the frosty lower 30s we had in KC in the early morning before our flight.
Virtual storm chasing is coming to Underthemeso.com! With the addition of some new software…StormLab 4… (which I am currently Beta testing right now)… it will be easy for friends, family, and other storm chasers and severe weather enthusiasts to follow my storm chase pursuits during the severe weather season. On days that I will be out in the field, the underthemeso.com frontpage will go into "Chase Mode", which will contain a map with radar imagery, surface observations, and my latest GPS location. My cell phone provider has an incredible coverage over Eastern Colorado, about 95% of the entire state of Kansas, and a large part of Nebraska…as well as south into West Texas. These are the areas that I chase the most. I fully expect to be able to provide near-real time radar images with my GPS location during my chases probably 80% of the time, so you know exactly what storm I am chasing. I do have an external antenna for my data card, which will make it possible to hold a data signal longer…keeping a continuous download and upload process using StormLab 4.