Sunday, June 21, 2009

One more day?

We have been getting in late every day. This will be our 9th straight day chasing. I am VERY tired. But it has been worth it.

Yesterday, we intercepted a very scary HP storm near McPherson yesterday. The storm went from nothing to 100kts gate to gate shear in 5 scans as low-level meso was very strong at times. Several tornadoes were reported but we were unable to see anything. Meso was on northeast side of this storm with huge RFD and low shelf along that region. We were close enough to look into the notch but the storm would occlude and heavy precip would wrap around it. The only way a tornado would have been seen was from up close within the precip, a place I did find safe enough. This happened twice and even though we were only a few miles away there was no way to see it. The best chance we had was actually right before total dark when the storm was near Herrington. We had a great view but at that time, no tornado touched down.

Very much worth the trip! Great storm and a lot of lightning.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

One of the Best

I must say, we worked for things today. Quickly, we left Salina at 11:00 in the morning thinking we would have an easy start to the day and a good lunch in Concordia. Instead, we started chasing by 11:30 as a storm formed on the warm advection pattern which was coupled with a shortwave trough.

It was quite frustrating as two cells formed. We got on the wrong one and were unable to get in front of the second when a tornado was reported. By time we got east of it, the storm had weakened and no longer had a tornado threat. Fearing to miss our target area, we quickly made our way back. We had a quick McDonald's lunch and were soon chasing a severe storm near Kearney NE. The storm tornadoed while we were still some distance away. Although we saw the last few minutes of it, we were too far to get to it for pictures and to feel like we accomplished anything good.

We stayed with the storm and were able to chase it quite well. It spun quite a bit and several times tried to tornado, but it just would not do it. Fearing we had missed the best time for tornadoes, we almost went to another storm to the northwest. However, this storm was still sucking air. We watched it continue to spin and look pretty nasty. We decided to position ourselves across the Platte River east of Grand Island. It was a good call since it tornadoed a bit soon after. A small debris cloud under the storm. I must say it was confusing and it looked like there were vortices rotating everywhere.

We then went east on RT 34, along with a caravan of chasers. Yech!

I looked at radar and thought there was a good place ahead of the hook a mile further to the north on a dirt road. It turned out fortuitous as we then saw a small tornado to the west. But it quickly redeveloped south of our position. About 1/2 mile south.

We watched this storm from the northwest side of the meso, right within the hook echo. Although we had fast inflow winds, I never felt we were in an unsafe place for the tornado, as close as we were.

Soon after, the storm became quite large.

Later, we saw several power flashes as it was a large cone tornado with a dust barrel around it.

Fortunately for the town of Aurora, the tornado roped out before it hit the city limits. All in all a great chase day. We are in Freemont NE hoping for another good day tomorrow.


Cool Supercell

Sorry I have not been updating. I will do a review later. Things have been busy in a pretty good way!

Yesterday, we hung out in SE KS in Sedan. After watching cu's fail in NW OK,we started north knowing that the advective processes near sunset would initiate convection slightly elevated. We watched several soft banded stratus bottoms with rock hard convective towers above them. They still pressed against a very formidable cap and softened quite a bit. Thinking it might be a few more hours we were wondering where anything would go. Seeing explosive development on radar near ICT we made a navigation error which cost us about 20 minutes through the winding roads of SE KS. We did manage to get into the notch about 20 minutes before sunset and were treated to quite a wonderful supercell.

There was fairly weak inflow but there were two times that I thought a tornado were possible. The first had a good solid wall cloud (the funnel reports being quite unreliable) although nothing that screamed tornado imminent. The second was when the storm was right on top of Winfield. It looked like the storm was clear-slotting (very dark) and there was what *might* have been a large funnel. No power flashes underneath, we decided to drive up to get a closer look...1/2 mile away. It quickly fell apart and did no apparent touchdown. I didn't think it would based on very loose velocity structure in the midst of the hook.

Nonetheless, a good end to a long day of waiting!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mesoscale Mayhem

Last night, my post was this as a call: "Springfield CO to Gage to Shamrock to AMA polygon."

A big supercell was working its way from Southeast CO to Gage OK. Big storms were between AMA and Shamrock. The only problem was we were on a crappy storm north of AMA and lost due to un-see-able (at least to me) mesoscale features.

The day was frustrating because although the environment was good in this region, we could not find a good initiator of the storms. We spent a lot of time in Stratford debating whether or not to go NW or S. Finally, with a good environment south, we headed south toward Dumas and then Amarillo. As we headed there an old out-flow boundary flew north and we could see cu's firing along that boundary. Then they exploded upon that boundary. We were underneath the storm in downtown AMA when the first severe warning was issued. we headed east with it and it started to look alright for a bit until a left split came flying north. After that, the day became dominated by left splits and storms that that poorly interacted with each other.

My guess is that the right favored storms were contingent upon them being surface based. The OFB made them slightly elevated and so I think the straight line part of the hodograph that the storm actually saw was straight with maybe even a slight anticyclonic favor. In any event, the storm died.

We headed to AMA for dinner and saw most of the Vortex 2 crew feeling the same way as we did. Wondering why we picked a favorable spot that just didn't get lucky.

Science should not depend so much on luck. But I guess it does.