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!"

April 28, 2008

New Albums uploaded to “Collections”

Filed under: UTM Updates — Mike U @ 9:26 pm

The following albums have been uploaded to my Collections page:

February 20, 2008 — Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah
February 20, 2008 — Northwest Colorado Snowscapes
February 21, 2008 — Wyoming I-80 Snowscapes

…and the recent Northwest Kansas storm chase:

April 24, 2008 — Northwest Kansas high-based supercell 

April 27, 2008

Chase Acct: April 26, 2008 (West Texas)

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 8:33 am

April 26th was a very productive storm photography day.  Lightning was nothing short of spectacular with a supercell thunderstorm that moved slowly across the San Angelo area.  On the way north to Abilene late in the evening, another storm produced spectacular lightning. 

I intercepted and photographed the San Angelo high-based supercell. AsI was en route to the San Angelo area from Big Springs, I ran into BillReid as the storm was in its incipient stage. The storm underwent a classic split after initiation to the south of Sterling City.Eventually, the right split finally took over, and I followed the storm southeast on approach to San Angelo. I decided to take Ranch 2288south, to bypass the city. This was a good choice as it offered me a wonderful view of the storm without the nuisance of dealing with the city. I connected the Lightning Trigger to my Nikon D200 after it became apparent that photogenic CG lightning was occurring at a reasonable interval around the updraft. It worked like a champ. The success rate with the Lightning Trigger is about 20-40% or so, I am finding, when shooting at a 1/10 to 1/30 shutter speed, depending on the on the return strokes after initial flash that triggers the device.There was so much lightning with this storm — high-quality, brilliant lightning. I cannot recall a storm of recent memory that I had so much fun photographing with respect to lightning. The supercell really became outflow dominant as it came into San Angelo. Overall supercell structure was pretty good, but the CG lightning was what made this storm a real treat to the photographer. East of San Angelo, I was leap-frogging Bill Reid and Paul Sirvatka’s COD team, staying ahead of the storm on Hwy 87 to Eden. I was able to capture a fantastic image looking west down Hwy 87 of a spectacular CG with COD’s chase vans in the distance on a hill.

I went south on Hwy 83 about 10 or 12 miles to photograph a little more…which was when I lost internet connection. There’s a data hole in this area. The SCIT track had the storm crossing Hwy 83 about 7miles south of Eden, so I waited patiently until the core of the storm crossed in front of me to the north. I went back north to Eden after about 20 minutes to find a wintry scene of hail covering Hwy 83 several inches deep over a couple mile stretch. From the last radar image I saw before data loss, there was another small supercell taking bead on the Ballinger area in time. I was planning to head to Abilene anyway, so I was hoping for a little more lightning. I was pretty greedy at this point — having an awesome good time! I stopped a couple times around the Paint Rock area for more incredible lightning. It was a staccato-fest! Bill Reid said it best after I saw him the final time when we were west of Eden: "It was like taking candy from a baby". What an incredibly fun chase. Below are a few crudely processed images that I did on my laptop. I have a couple more on my blog:  

Below are a few of the best images of the bunch from yesterday’s chase:



April 26, 2008

Chase Forecast: April 26th – West Texas [post 2]

Filed under: Chase Forecasts/Outlooks,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 8:14 am

Sitting in Childress at this time about to take off for Lubbock area where I’lllikely spend much of the afternoon. RUC and NAM suggest near 2000 J/kgto develop in the northward advecting moist axis through West TX. Del Rio morning sounding shows pretty good moisture which is already advectingnorthwest just off the surface. Midland sounding had highest mixing ratiojust above ground level with near 50F. I think by 00 UTC, there shouldbe widespread upper 50s to near 60 dewpoints from Midland to Lamesa toSnyder…perhaps as far north as Lubbock. I think the best play is right atthe nose of the good low level juice… so my initial target isLamesa-Post-Snyder area for initial 22-00 UTC development…thentowards Jayton-Rotan-Aspermont area later in the evening.

April 25, 2008

Chase Forecast: April 26th – West Texas

Filed under: Chase Forecasts/Outlooks,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 1:20 pm

I will be driving to Childress, TX after work this afternoon to set up for a Saturday chase in West Texas.  Low level moisture will return back north tomorrow across West Texas with dewpoints reaching upper 50s to near 60 as far north as northwest Texas.  Another shortwave disturbance will dive southeast out of the Rockies tomorrow putting West Texas in substantial forcing for ascent and subsequent deep, moist convective development.  Surface-based CAPE values may reach 2000 J/kg by late afternoon.  At this point, I’ve got my eye on an area between Lubbock and Childress, but may travel as far south as I-20 to Abilene.  The key tomorrow is to a) be close the advancing low level moisture and b) remain well south of the charging cold front.  I think both should be accomplished with relative ease.

Chase Acct: April 24, 2008 (Northwest KS)

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 12:34 am

I was able to leave work right at 4pm for yesterday’s chase. As Iposted in the FCST thread, the area I was most interested in was alongand north of US-24 to Nebraska. I met up with Tony Laubach and VerneCarlson for a short time east of Ness City as some cumulus weresomewhat intriguing at the nose of a small scale mixed-out warm plumewhere convergence was locally maximized. I told myself that if the Cudidn’t look any better in 45 minutes, I would bolt northwest where Iwas extremely confident there would be a sustained surface based severestorm where the deep tropospheric forcing was much better acrossNorthwest KS. The first storms were developing with some decent echoesaloft around Goodland, and at that point, I continued north toWakeeney, then northwest to Hoxie, to my first stopping point south ofRexford. The southern storm had some nice shape to it and appeared tobe supercellular, but it was small. Of interest at the time was alarger mass of convective updraft due north. These two storms mergednorthwest of Rexford, and the storm really took off. Of course, it wasgetting well into the evening by this point, but the supercellstructure was quite fine…although high based. The westernmost portionof the storm revealed an interesting lowered feature, which I guess youcould call a wall cloud, but there was a lot of outflow dust beneath itlooking roughly west from near Hwy 23-83 junction at Seldon. It was toodark for handheld photography, so I tried my best to get the tripodsetup for some 1-3 second wide angle exposures amidst strong eastinflow winds and blowing dust.

Now,idiot me, I continued east on Hwy 9, instead of joining the massesheading south on 23. I guess I was expecting the storm to move more dueeast…and from my perspective due east of the storm, the structure waspretty good from a photography standpoint. I stopped briefly about 6 WNew Almelo for more long-exposure photography on the tripod before Ibegan to get pelted by quarter-size hail. Looking to thewest-southwest, the supercell structure looked pretty darn good fromthis vantage point on Highway 9, so the decision to head east insteadof south I guess wasn’t so bad after all. Of course, by the time I gotfar enough east to reach a south option again at Hwy 283, it was dark,and there was little if any decent lightning illuminated structure. Ireached Hill City amidst blaring tornado sirens, continuing southhopefully far enough south to get out of the cloud canopy so I can geta nice distant view of supercell structure. It really wasn’t to be. Idid stop at a high spot south of Hill City where other spotters andchasers also stopped, but by this time, the supercell circulation waseast of Hill City. There were a lot of lightning illuminated "hangydownies" just west of where the radar had strongest rotation near HillCity. There was nothing more to shoot of interest photography wise, soI headed south towards Wakeeney in hopes that maybe a very distant viewof the storm could be interesting, but even that wasn’t all that wascracked up to be, so I continued to Wakeeney, ate dinner, and headedhome. A fun little chase. Below are a few images (all 12mm wide angle):


April 20, 2008

Facebook problems & Royal Flush

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mike U @ 10:20 am

This post is mainly directed to my Facebook friends.  Over the past week or two, I have had spam sent out through my Facebook account on more than one occasion to pretty much everyone on my Friends list.. I apologize for this nonsense.. I have de-activated my Facebook account for the time being until I completely clean up my computers, freeing it of all spyware, trojans, bots, etc. that may exist.  I’ll get the mess sorted out over the next couple weeks or so.  

On a completely different topic, last night I hit my first Royal Flush on video poker at Ameristar Casino last night.  I was out with my bowling teammates as we are in KC this weekend for the Kansas state bowling tournament.  I was playing max credit (thank god), but was only on a 10-cent machine, which wasn’t a progressive machine :( , so I won $400.  I held a "3-to-a-Royal" first hand, and got the last two cards for the Royal.  Pretty cool!  

April 10, 2008

Spring Snowstorm Chase: April 10, 2008 [post 11]

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mike U @ 9:33 pm

Some images from this afternoon’s snowstorm around North Platte, NE:



Spring Snowstorm Chase: April 10, 2008 [post 10]

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mike U @ 8:36 pm

5.6" officially at North Platte airport.  LSR issued by North Platte mentioned 5.6" measured snowfall with this storm as of 8:00pm CDT.  That sounds about right.  Snow depth is a bit less than that though given the amount of melting through. the day.  On the backside of this storm, still seeing moderate snow here in North Platte late in the evening.  Will get a few pics uploaded here soon.  The plan for me is to leave here very early in the morning so I can make it back to Dodge by late morning/midday Friday.

Spring Snowstorm Chase: April 10, 2008 [post 9]

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mike U @ 3:43 pm

Not a whole lot of significant excitement to report this afternoon.  There has been probably 4-5" of snowFALL around North Platte, but current snowDEPTH is barely 3".  I drove around town and photographed some snow scenics around a couple of the city parks here in North Platte.  Then I drove northwest of town about 6-8 miles or so.  The wind started to pick up quite a bit around 3pm, gusting to 40 mph at times.  Blowing snow was rather widespread over the open areas and really increased the snowpack over the east-west and southeast-northwest oriented roads.  Some near-blizzard conditions were experienced at times.  I am back at the motel room now, as it is still snowing moderately out there.  It sure looks like north of here into the Sandhills got the most snow based on radar data.  Later on this evening I’ll post a few pics.

Spring Snowstorm Chase: April 10, 2008 [post 8]

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mike U @ 11:05 am

1.5 to 2 inches of slushy accumulation so far.  Despite how heavy the snow has been falling at times this morning, the accumulation has not been all that impressive, particularly due to the warm ground and indirect insolation from the fairly high early-mid April sun angle.  It’s just tough to accumulate snow rapidly this time of year unless it is really coming down with like 35 dBZ radar echoes.  If it was 5 to 8 degrees colder, we’d probably be at around 4 or 5 inches of snow.  It’s been stuck at 34F degrees the whole time so far, which is really cutting down on the accumulation potential.  Snowfall-liquid ratio is probably 8:1 or so.  0.31" of precipitation has fallen since it has changed over to snow according to the North Platte ASOS… that equates to roughly a 6 or 7 to 1 ratio.  Pretty weak.

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