Thursday, June 28, 2007

Severe Weather Forecasting

I have been forecasting the onset of severe weather events for a long time. Of all the things I have learned, there is one truth I hold to most closely. Forecasting for severe weather is done on Day 1.

The use of models to pinpoint the best severe is almost useless. All I use the models for is to get a feel for the overall synoptic pattern. To interrogate the model output to a deeper degree is to play a game of futility. I am much happier looking at 500mb winds, 850 theta-e and winds, CAPE and CIN to get a quick feel for stuff.It becomes apparent when there will be a significant severe weather pattern. It also becomes apparent when there will not be a large outbreak but a chance for a few good storms. Shear, moisutre, lift, instability really is sufficient for forecasts beyond the day one period.

However, once it gets to Day 1, then I analyze the data. Given enough experience, it is amazing what you can learn from a mesoanalysis. I do not need model guidance to know where the threat is most likely.

Do I use models anyway? Of course. Hey, I am a meteorologist. Of course I look at models. If I am excited I look at everything and all models. Give me more output.

But do I need models? I would love to have nothing but analysis - colored pencils, maps and images. I would bet I could beat a model 85% of the time. And believe it or not, that makes me feel good. Who doesn't want to beat a computer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


There is nothing like a storm in the Great Plains in the evening. Such awesome power. It is terrific to be there and watch lightning near a great storm. But there is something to say about a picture of lightning too. Well, you know the old saying, take a picture it lasts longer. The bright flash of a lightning bolt. So quick and short-lived. Only the camera can let you remember the details. The camera and the image burned in your retina for at least a minute afterward!

Storm Chase Vehicles

Well, after spending more than a year trying to make our Sprinter Vans work for our Thunderstorm Lab classes, we have given up. Their reliability, or really lack thereof, will prevent us from even trying to fix them. Unbelievable! So now we hunt down a new solution for transporting 18 people on five trips per year. We think it will be the old reliable Ford E-250's. We sure couldn't do worse.

We leave for another trip in two weeks. Being vanless for this trip, we are going to have to rent some vehicles. This time we are renting two SUV's and a 12 person van. Not ideal, but it should get us someplace. And since we had the Sprinters, this might be the first time we can count on getting there.


Welcome to My Weather World

I have decided to put a blog online for my thoughts meteorological and personal. I love to write about weather and I hope this can stimulate some good discussions. I am glad we are still in storm season as I have not had enough storms yet this year!