High Plains Drifter

disclaimer:  "The meteorological views/forecast thinking expressed are those solely of the author of this blog
and do not necessarily represent those of official National Weather Service forecast products,
therefore read and enjoy at your own risk and edification!"

March 24, 2008

Late March update: A potpourri of stuff

Filed under: Misc,UTM Updates — Mike U @ 7:08 am

Greensburg talks

My "Greensburg tour" is going pretty well up to this point.  Venues I’ve spoken at include Wichita, Aurora CO, Lawrence KS, Colleyville TX, Pratt KS, and Hampton VA.  The Colleyville, TX talk was the TESSA National Storm Conference that is held every year in early March.  It was good to meet new faces and see friends I haven’t seen in awhile.  The Al Moller tribute and dinner was awesome, and I am glad I was there for it.  Two days after I got back from Texas, I flew out to Virginia, as I was invited to speak at the Virginia Emergency Management Conference.  They were interested in having a meteorological perspective on the event to go along with the emergency management side of things.  Matt Mercer, the southwest KS regional coordinator for KS Homeland Security spoke about the Greensburg event from that perspective; he’s also from Dodge City.  Two more talks left:  Lincoln, NE "Central Plains Severe Weather Symposium" the weekend of March 29-30 and the following weekend April 4-5 I will be at Valparaiso, IN for the Great Lakes Meteorology Conference.  I will also be taking part, to some degree, in Greensburg anniversary festivities the weekend of May 3-4th.

Utah-Colorado trip pics

I am about halfway done processing and uploading pics from my Utah-Colorado trip a little over a month ago.  If you’ve been a regular to my website, you’ll notice some changes, which I’ll discuss a little bit more about below.   Visit the "Moab 2008" link you see at the top.  I hope to get the rest of the albums uploaded by the beginning of April, depending on the amount of free time I have.

Lightroom "Flash" albums & new "Collections" page

All new recently-shot images have been processed and uploaded through Adobe Lightroom.  I’ve done this since about November, with the idea of hopefully getting a lot of images added faster.  I’m using a very generic Joomla CMS template, and I’m fairly satisfied with the organization.  I will not be deleting any albums from my current "Gallery", but many of the albums will eventually become "hidden", only accessed through the Collections front-end.  "Gallery" will still exist, it will just evolve into my portfolio of high-end images only, with the plan to set up some sort of online print ordering interface within "Gallery".  At least this is how I envision it for now.  I’ll try to keep everyone posted.  

Storm chase trip?

I put in for some time off at the latter part of June, although I’m not sure if I’ll get it or not — so it is still up in the air whether I’ll be taking a 2008 chase trip.  If I do, I’ll probably tag along with either Jay Antle or Vince Miller again, we’ll see.  I finally got a new Jotto Desk for my vehicle, so it will be a lot easier for me to have a chase partner in my Jeep, although I’ll primarily chase solo throughout the year except probably during my chase trip, if I take one. 

March 3, 2008

Chase Acct: March 2, 2008 (Western OK)

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 7:23 am

March 2nd was my first chase of the 2008 storm chase season.  I wasn’t planning to chase this day, given the fact that for awhile it looked like the best setup for supercells would be too far south.  After awaking early in the morning Sunday, and upon looking at some initial data concerning the day’s severe weather threat, the focus had really shifted to the north where a pronounced warm ridge in the low levels would advance northward into southwestern Oklahoma.  Mid 50s dewpoints were to be expected to the west and northwest of this warm nose, providing about 1000 to 1500 J/kg of surface-based CAPE.  Since it appeared there was a reasonable chance at supercells within 4 hours of Dodge City, I decided to make it a chase, and left around 8:30 for a target around the Mangum, OK area in the southwestern part of the state. 

I arrived in Sayre, OK early in the afternoon to clearing skies with bubbling cumulus to my south.  It was warming well into the 70s to my immediate south with a few lower 80s around Childress, TX.  I decided to hang out there in Sayre until things started to develop.  Between 1:30 and 2:00pm, the incipient storms were developing just to my north.  It was tough to decided what to do — whether to go after the first "blips" on radar, or just meander east and wait for more stuff to develop down the line, which I expected.  There was uniform instability/shear pretty much across all of western Oklahoma, which made picking a storm largely a guessing game, or whatever the most interesting echo was that was the easiest intercept.  I knew that anything developing north of me would be extremely difficult to intercept given the northeast storm motion of 35-45 mph.  I headed north out of Sayre then east towards Elk City.  Some of the updrafts to the north caught my attention but they were already 15-20 miles north of me and rapidly moving away.  I drifted east a little bit on I-40, stopping occasionally to figure things out.  There were numerous small cells — storms of little organization.  It was a mess to try and sort through. 

By 3:15, I made it as far east as Clinton, and decided to head south down Hwy 183.  I made it all the way to Rocky, south-southwest of Cordell, and finally off to my west was some pretty decent updraft structure with one of the storms closest to me.  I followed this storm, stopping occassionally for photos, from 3:45 to 4:30 when I reached a location about 11 miles east of Rocky.  The storm attained some rotation and had fairly decent updraft structure including a rear-flank downdraft.  As the storm was heading northeast, I decided to continue following it north on Hwy 54.  A tornado warning was issued for the storm between 4:45 and 5:00 for strong radar circulation to my northwest.  There was indeed broad rotation at cloud base with pretty impressive clear slot/rear flank downdraft structure, but I could never discern what I would consider rapid rotation.  I continued east on Hwy 152 to Eakly to stay ahead of the storm and put myself in position to intercept the next storm (which was also tornado-warned) immediately to the south.  Instead, after looking back again to the northwest and seeing a very ominous looking "mass" of cloud near the ground wrapped up behind the rear-flank downdraft, I decided to head north on Hwy 58 at Eakly.  What followed was a very interesting mass of cloud that very much resembled a large funnel cloud or even multiple funnels protruding to the surface in the proper location for tornado development behind the clear slot.  I was too far away and driving while this was happening (trying to get closer), so it was very difficult to ascertain what was going on.  Briefly, it certainly looked like a laminar "cigar" shaped funnel developed, descending quite low from cloud base.  It was changing shape quite a bit though.  It really appeared that tornadogenesis was really trying hard here, probably somewhere between Weatherford and Colony.  Eventually, this feature waned and the storm croaked as I headed north back towards the I-40. 

This would be the extent of the day’s chase pretty much.  Since it was still fairly early (only 5:30pm or so), I decided to head east to get ahead of the line in hopes of getting decent shelf cloud images.  I continued chasing until about 6:45 or so, awaiting the line of storms just outside of Minco.  The shelf cloud structure was less than inspiring, unfortunately, and it was also too dark for much photography.  Most of the lightning was embedded in the core of the storms, so there wasn’t much opportunity for lightning photography either.  The chase was done and headed to Clinton to stay the night.  I didn’t feel like driving for 3 hours back home in the dark against a 40-50mph head wind.


March 2, 2008

Project Greensburg & 2008 First Chase!

Filed under: Chase Forecasts/Outlooks,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 7:48 am

Last Night was another night I won’t forget.  ~70 local residents, many of which from Greensburg, showed up at the Project Greensburg storm chaser fundraising event in Pratt, KS.  I was invited by Greg Stumpf and Mick Ptak, the event organizers, to give a 15-20 minute presentation on Greensburg in between the showing of chapters from the "Storms of 2007" DVD.  A $3100 check was presented to Greensburg Greentown from profits of the previous year’s DVD.  70-80 copies of the 2007 DVD were sold at the event last night at Pratt Community College, all the profits of which will also be donated to Greensburg Greentown.  A few other showings are planned, including the Central Plains Severe Weather Symposium in Lincoln, NE at the end of March.

Believe it or not, today is a chase day!  I have the day off, and today is a good day to get the storm chasing feet wet again.  A strong storm will eject out of New Mexico later on today and it looks like the best focus for possible supercell storms will be west central or southwest Oklahoma.  The tentative target right now is the Mangum-Altus area.  Storms may develop fairly early, which for early in the season, may not be a bad thing given early sunset.  I plan to depart around 8:30am or so.  I will put the website into "chase mode" probably by early afternoon or so. 

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