May 27

It looks like a go.  Actually, these are some of the easiest days to forecast.  It’s taken several weeks to happen, but we are finally going to spread a strong upper system out over the Plains.  The calendar says May 27…. there’s not much else that needs to be known.  Severe thunderstorms will form this afternoon from the northeast corner of the Texas Panhandle – northward through Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.  It does appear that there will be an enhanced area of threat in Kansas and Nebraska where slightly better flow and instability will be found just northeast of a surface low.  While we will try to get as far north as I-70 to take this into account, it should also be noted that most all high-res/short range models break out storms as far south as I-40…. tracking sustained storms through northwest Oklahoma and east of Dodge City.  We will have to keep this option open as the day goes on.  I will have Doug “Speg” Speheger riding as navigator.  We have quite the string of tornado observing days going back almost a year.  His new wife Jane seems to have some doubts about this storm chasing game… don’t worry Jane, Doug will be as safe as a baby in it’s mothers arms……

May 26

Didn’t have a whole lot of success with lightning last night…..just a few pics between Leedey and Putnam.  (one image at the bottom of this post)

Saturday won’t be a chase day.  There are a few model solutions that support evening thunderstorms in western Oklahoma once again.  There may be another shot at some lightning.

Sunday still has decent potential in the central Plains.  I expect that one would have to get north to at least I-70 and may end up near the Nebraska border before it’s over.  This will likely be a chase day for me which may start a string of days if all works well.

From yesterday evening:

May 24

It looks like a cloudy day out there this afternoon, but most of the sky obstruction is being caused by smoke from New Mexico wildfires that has drifted across.

Yesterday’s no-go call was a good one as the cap held firm in north central Kansas.  There is a front in the state today, but strong capping will prevent thunderstorm development.  This is going to be typical of the next couple of days where we will find boundaries and an unstable atmosphere in the central and southern Plains, but no large scale lifting and a strong cap should prevent organized thunderstorm development.  An isolated storm or two could form, but a shot in the dark to find that spot in advance.

With that, all eyes turn to Sunday when a strong upper system will be moving into the Plains and more seasonable moisture/instability will be in place.  Sunday/Monday/Tuesday all look like potential chase days in the central Plains.

 

May 23 – 9:46 a.m.

Model guidance has trended 3-1 against developing storms in my original target area.  I may be setting myself up for a 6 p.m. scream, but I have decided to sit this one out.  I am more confident in something interesting getting organized in northeast Colorado and moving into northwest Kansas.  This is an area I would consider if I was in the region – but I’m not, so I won’t.

Making this decision easier is the fact that we continue to have upward trends toward the weekend supporting more widespread severe weather chances / possible multiple day severe weather chances / that would warrant making a long trip.

Warm and windy in Okarche this afternoon…..

May 23

Chance of departure for chasing today: 80%

At this early morning hour, I still have about six hours before making the final decision. I figure the cutoff today is 11 a.m. Sometimes your gut will tell you to chase when all model guidance is against it. The models usually win in that situation. Other times, every piece of model guidance suggests that there will be storms… again, they are usually right. This is one of those days where for every model that says “go” – I can find one that says “stay”. I am leaning toward the “go” camp on this one due largely to climatology. It’s May 23 – there is an unusually deep surface low in the central Plains, there are mid level winds of 50 knots over the threat area, and forecast hodographs are very impressive in the target area. Half of the model guidance says there won’t be any storms. That’s a problem. However, half of the guidance says that there will be storms. Any storm that forms in the small area of north central Kansas/south central Nebraska will likely quickly become supercell in nature producing all facets of severe weather – including the threat for significant tornadoes.

So, what’s one to do? My feeling right now is that I will leave later this morning and try the sneak approach. I will head north checking data hour by hour until something either says “hammer down” or “turn around”. This is very much a high risk/reward day. I could see sitting in the garden this evening knowing that the cap has held and skies are clear in northern Kansas… but equally could see the one storm blow up on radar that you know is producing something good and letting out a Charlie Brown scream.

Still time to make a final decision, but right now I am planning on a little more sleep and then hitting the road late morning. If this turns into a full blown chase landing me near the Nebraska border – it will be an overnight returning Thursday morning. If I make the decision to turn around, I will likely be back in Okarche late in the evening. The next shot of significant severe weather doesn’t appear until the weekend.

May 22

Happy Birthday Dad!

No chasing today.  The models have been bouncing around a lot lately, but are showing signs of life this week.  Tomorrow may actually turn into a pretty good day near the Kansas/Nebraska border as deep low pressure develops near the Kansas/Colorado border.  Also, there are signs that the central Plains may become active in the Friday/Saturday time frame.  I will wait until about 10 pm tonight to decide whether or not to pull the trigger on tomorrow.  Logistically, what needs to be considered, is it worth going out tomorrow and staying out through Saturday – or overnight tomorrow and return home with a quick turnaround for the weekend - or just wait for the weekend.  There is still the possibility that none of these will work out to warrant getting out the door.

I have put together a webpage at http://www.okweatherwatch.com/2012/051912.html

which shows an overview of several of the things that happened from the afternoon of the 19th to the early morning hours of the 21st.

May 21

No chasing today or over the next couple of days…. however, it looks like the weather pattern will be changing toward the end of the week and weekend.

From the afternoon of the 19th to the early morning of the 21st…. things have been quite interesting with several bouts of lightning from some not-so-likely storm candidates…. there were supercells, golfball size hail and an eclipse thrown in.  There were many images caught that I didn’t expect to catch.  Bottom line, I’ve decided to throw together a webpage which will hit all of the events during that period.  I hope to have it together by sometime on Tuesday.

Okarche, Oklahoma