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 23, 2011

test image

Filed under: chase mode updates — Mike U @ 3:18 pm

this is only a test

neighbors blown over wooden playground

Filed under: chase mode updates — Mike U @ 2:58 pm

this is a picture of my neighbors wooden playground structure blown over in
the 70 mile per hour winds gusts last week

April 21, 2011

chase update 6:35pm

Filed under: chase mode updates — Mike U @ 6:44 pm

well, the one attempt at convective initiation failed north of
Richfield. Despite the strong surface convergence occurring now with
good southeast winds, the lack of appreciable moisture is certainly a
mitigating factor…and the main upper level wave is still a bit too
far west to compensate for lack of moisture. 80 degree temperature
over a 46 dewpoint supports about 1000-1200 J/kg CAPE here, but all
the cumulus just looks really flat now to the west, as the strongest
convergence is in Baca County where the really dry air is (30
dewpoints or lower!). I’ll keep watching things through 7pm, but the
way it looks now, this gamble I took did not pay off. Really no
biggie. I’ll be on vacation to chase May 3-16.

chase update 545pm cdt

Filed under: chase mode updates — Mike U @ 5:52 pm

I am taking a shot at a marginal setup for an isolated, photogenic,
marginally severe storm in far Southwest KS. There is a narrow axis
of 48 to 52 degree dewpoints moving up into far southwest KS providing
900 to 1200 J/kg CAPE where temperatures have warmed into the lower
80s. I am observing a clusted of high based cumulus to my west near
Richfield, KS at this time. It is currently in the dry air where
dewpoints are in the mid-upper 30s… but 46 to 48F dewpoints are
about to become ingested into this highly convergent area, so I am
hoping that a decent isolated storm can result here. We’ll see what
happens. I’m only 100 miles from Dodge, so it’s a decent gamble in my
eyes. I’m due in to work at midnight tonight, so I have time to play
around with whatever develops since it would be moving in the
direction of home.

April 15, 2011

Southwest Kansas Windstorm 15 April 2011 [3]

Filed under: 2011 Apr 15 — Mike U @ 10:45 am

High wind event in progress.  69 mph peak wind gust at 10am CDT in Dodge City. I have already had to clean up torn off shingles off my roof as well as one of the downspouts to my gutter that came off.  The sun is beginning to make an appearance and as a result, deeper mixing will ensue resulting in likely more aggressive gusts, and perhaps more frequent gusts exceeding 55 knots.  The RUC Wind Gust field has done a fairly good job in its prediction of the magnitude of wind gusts.  Below is a 9 hour forecast of Surface Wind Gust valid 15z (10am) with the verifying observations overlayed:


Frequent wind gusts are expected to remain in the 50 to 55 knot range…and perhaps a few gusts approaching 60 knots…through 22z (5pm CDT), as is shown by the 14z run of the RUC model:

April 14, 2011

Southwest Kansas Windstorm 15 April 2011 [2]

Filed under: 2011 Apr 15 — Mike U @ 7:55 pm

Winds already getting underway over northwest Kansas and eastern Colorado. Observations at 7pm CDT indicated 40 to 45 knot wind gusts at Springfield and La Junta, CO as well as Goodland, KS.  The image below shows the RUC 2-hour forecast for wind gust valid 00z (7pm) with 7pm observations of wind barb and gusts (red values, knots) overlayed:


The image below is the 18-hr forecast from the April 14th 22z run of the RUC valid 16z April 15th…showing 54-58 knot gusts (62-67 mph) all across Southwest Kansas by this time with a very deep 825mb low to the east:


Southwest Kansas Windstorm 15 April 2011 [1]

Filed under: 2011 Apr 15 — Mike U @ 10:59 am

It’s always windy in Dodge, but… What we have coming our way on Friday, April 15th will likely be a wind event the likes of which we haven’t seen in several years around Southwest Kansas.  To complicate matters — it has been so dry so far this year, and if we don’t get anything more than sprinkles with this storm later on today and this evening, then there will likely be a substantial amount of blowing dust.  I wouldn’t be blogging about this storm if there wasn’t some component of it that is fascinating to me and impacting western Kansas to some degree.  A major cyclogenesis event will be occurring today over Kansas.  As of the time of this writing, the surface low was located southeast of Dodge City, which will deepen substantially as it tracks northeast through central Kansas today.


Strong northwest winds will develop behind the low by early this evening which will strengthen substantially as the low wraps up tonight. The 12z RUC model valid 18 hours out at midnight tonight is already showing 60 mph gust potential developing along the Colorado-Kansas border to the west of the mature cyclone:


The strongest winds will begin impacting Dodge City after midnight tonight.  The wind fields in all the models are extremely impressive with wind magnitudes about as high as I’ve seen for Southwest Kansas behind a mid latitude cyclone like this.  The NAM has been persistent in showing 65 to 75 knots in the 800-700mb layer from 12z to 21z Friday.  The ECMWF model has also shown a very similar signal in the strength of winds.  NAM Boundary Layer (BL, 0-15mb AGL mixed depth) winds are expected to be around 45 knots sustained during the day on Friday.  This is as high as I’ve ever seen BL winds for Southwest Kansas behind a low with deep vertical mixing.  These are all strong signals of a prolonged, significant wind event last a good 12 to perhaps 18 hours!  Below is the time sequence of this morning’s NAM model showing the development of high winds in the 0-15mb AGL mixed layer:

Lastly, here is a text output from the NAM12 model for Dodge City.  Highlighted in red is the mixed layer.  Typically, the mean wind in the lower third of the mixed layer in the NAM model translates well to surface sustained winds on the high plains.  Peak wind gusts at the surface are typically the wind speed at the top of the mixed layer that have mixed all the way down to the surface due to both the mechanical mixing (by the wind) and the more traditional mixing due to insolation.  The NAM model would suggest a prolong period of gusts in excess of 60 mph during the day tomorrow, withe a potential peak gust of 68 mph during the early to mid afternoon hours when the mixing height increased to about 775 mb:


April 10, 2011

Storm Chase Account 9 April 2011 — Southwest Kansas

Filed under: Chase Accounts,Photography,Storm Chasing — Mike U @ 9:48 pm

April 9th was a chase day for me close to home (within an hour and a half drive of Dodge City).  I had a pretty good feeling that at least one severe storm would form along the dryline in Kansas, and thus opted to make this my chase target versus a long, expensive, and draining drive to chase storms in northwestern Iowa.  There were numerous tornadoes observed by many storm chasers up in northwest Iowa on April 9th.  There were not as many storm chasers in Kansas on the 9th, and as a result, I managed to get some more unique images of storms.  Unfortunately, there was only about a 15 to 30 minute time frame where the storm I chased revealed some photogenic scenes, so I tried to take advantage of the opportunity.  The storm was a marginal supercell storm that produced up to golfball size hail as it tracked northeast from Greensburg to Stafford, Kansas.  I first intercepted the storm when it was in its formative stages south of Greensburg — viewing it from the distant east near Belvidere.  The storm was moving rapidly northeast at 40 to 45mph or so, which is not the type of storm chasing I like to do.  I knew this coming into the chase, though.  It was along the Hwy 54 corridor around the Cullison area when I photographed some brilliant scenes just as the sun was beginning to set.  Crepuscular rays were very prominent both downward and upward in direction at points.  After the sun set, however, the good photography opportunities diminished, especially considering the main storm to my north was not getting any better in overall structure and whatever structure there was — was being masked by other convective development to its west-southwest.  I decided to stick a fork in the remainder of the chase as I headed north toward through northwestern Pratt County.  A word to the wise: If you really like the adventure of traveling on thick sand, then drive through the Pratt Sandhills Wildlife Area northwest of Pratt — otherwise, avoid at all costs!  Especially when storm chasing.

April 9, 2011

Supercell structure forming north of haviland 735pm

Filed under: chase mode updates — Mike U @ 7:36 pm

Developing storm near Greensburg looking west 710pm

Filed under: chase mode updates — Mike U @ 7:11 pm

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