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Storm Chase 2019

  

May 20 - High Risk Chase in Texas and Oklahoma

Hello from Vernon, Texas!

Successful chase day today: saw one, possibly two tornadoes today near Mangum, TX. 

We started off in Childress, TX this morning and the Storm Prediction Centre upgraded to a HIGH RISK and a 45% hatched for tornadoes. This meant they were anticipating strong, long-track tornadoes. Needless to say, we all had an uneasy feeling about the day.

Several things make a high risk chase stressful: choosing the right storm, the atmosphere is so primed for severe weather everything goes up, fast moving storms, and the danger to the public.

The forecast models were indicating multiple rounds starting early in the morning so we got up early to ensure we were prepared to hit the day head on.

Well... we hung around in Childress for a long time. A PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) Tornado Watch for the region and storms started to fire mid afternoon. We headed west and south out of Childress to watch the two storms coming up out of our southwest. Both storms had hooks on them but were fighting each other for the environment. 

Eventually one storm became dominant and we followed along with it north and east from north-central Texas into southwest Oklahoma. As we approched the storm from the south nearing Mangum, OK, it was producing a large cone tornado. Unfortunately visibility was very poor with a lot of moisture/haze in the atmosphere so it was low-contrast at points. As we got to Mangum, the tornado became thinner and started to rope out. We followed along in behind it as it passed through the north side of town. It then dissipated.

We continued with the storm as it was still looking good toward Granite, OK. It produced strong circulation that passed the road in front of us and into the field beside us. It was hard to tell if that cirucation was on the ground or not. Eventually the storm started to gust out so we decided to proceed north toward Vernon, TX to intercept an incoming storm that had rotation on it. The storm started to weaken as we got there so we did a little bit of lightning photography then headed back to Vernon for the night. Currently there are storms ongoing just south of town so we've got our weather radio handy just in case. There was a super close lightning strike not too long ago that scared the crap out of everyone.

Tomorrow looks like a down day, we won't be venturing to Kansas. We'll likely head to Amarillo, TX.

May 18 - Storms in Kansas and Oklahoma

Hello from Enid, Oklahoma!

We started the day off in Lexington, NE and headed south towards Alva, Oklahoma. Today was always very marginal for tornadoes but risk for big hail. Storms went up near Woodward and tracked toward us. Unfortunately, the wind profiles were not supportive for tornadoes but we hoped nonetheless. We watched a couple of storms produce wall clouds but just could not support themselves. Eventually the storms formed into a beautiful shelf cloud producing storm. We got some pictures then called it a chase and headed here to Enid for the night.

Tomorrow is not a day chase and just a day we'll take to reposition in time for the moderate risk on Monday. We'll likely set up shop in Amarillo, TX or maybe somewhere south/east of that.

SPC outlook for Day 3 (Monday).

May 17 - Tornadoes in Nebraska

Hello from Lexington, Nebraska!

Today was a successful chase day as we saw one, likely two, tornadoes today. We started the morning off in Russell, KS then made our way to Oakley to meet up with the crew. After that we positioned north in McCook, NE where we grabbed some lunch and waiting for storms to initiate.

Storms began to fire back south near the Colby, KS area and started to move east. We repositioned ourselves back south and watched the storms organize. The storm began to take on a favourable shape and reflectivity on radar but the issue was roads... there weren't a whole lot of options. Proper east road options were few and far between and it made chasing very tricky today.  

We headed north on the 117/17 toward Culbertson then east to McCook where we proceeded north again. We took the 83 north to Maywood and had to play it very carefully because we had a rotating storm to the east of the road and to the west of the road with cores and large hail on both. We then progressed east on the 23 very carefully but ran into some sizable hail. As we just passed the town of Farnam, while getting hit with some sizable hail, we noticed a circulation to our south rapidly approaching the road in front of us. We pulled over while it crossed right in front of us. The rotating wall cloud was very close to the ground and we'll need to review our footage. That being said, as soon as it passed the road, we continued east to get a view but were blocked by power poles that had just been snapped! The circulation was just beside us to the north of the road pulling away. We couldn't continue east anymore because of the fallen poles so we had to route around.

By the time we got back into position, the storm had become very rain wrapped and we couldn't see the tornado in the rain. We followed the storm a bit more but it was rapidly moving away from us so we decided to call it a chase. Back in Lexington, a weak squall line was approaching from our west so we decided to do a bit of lightning photography.

Now, back at the hotel, a few dents on the trucks, one-likely-two tornadoes under our belts, and time to forecast for tomorrow! This was also mine and Brad's first tornado in Nebraska.

Tomorrow we head south to chase again! A successful first chase day to the trip...

[Unfortunately the internet here is very poor so I won't be able to upload any images or videos tonight. I'll try again tomorrow.]

May 16 - We Made It!

Hello from Russell, Kansas!

What a last 24 hours it has been... George Kourounis joined us Wednesday evening (driving from Sudbury to our place) and from there we left at about 10:00pm for Tornado Alley! We drove as far as we could making it to Defiance, OH before calling in a night. We got a few hours of sleep then hit the road again early this morning. We made it all the way to Russell, KS but not before meeting up with Scott McPartland, Dave Lewison, and Cecelia Morgan along the I-70 west of Kansas City. That puts us at about 1,930 km (1,200 mi) in 24 hours.

We're spending the night here in Russell because 1) that's as far as our bodies could take us and 2) it puts multiple targets in play for tomorrow which is proving to be quite the difficult forecast.

Storm Prediction Center's outlined risk areas for day 2 (Friday, May 17).

There are quite a bit of favourable dynamics around the western Kansas area forecast for tomorrow but models seem to be struggling to break out consistent convection. A lot of parameters are screaming "head north into Nebraska" but the fear is that storms there may quickly become messy so visibility will be an issue and tornado-threat would rapidly decrease. It's a pretty hard forecast at this point and we're looking over newer model runs now to try and make a decision. The good news in we're in fairly good position to go either way.

Tomorrow we're hopefully meeting up with the rest of the crew who is out here!

May 14 - Pattern's Looking Good!

Looks like we're set to leave Wednesday evening to head down to Tornado Alley. There was some activity at the beginning of the month but unfortunately we couldn't make that happen with work schedules. That being said, I'm glad we weren't able to go because the pattern setting up looks very promising. Looks like several days of severe weather beginning on the 18th. 

George Kourounis will be joining us in our vehicle this year which is exciting! We'll be meeting the gang down there with our first chase day being Friday. The Storm Prediction Center has already outlined several days of severe weather ahead so looks like we'll have a busy start to the trip.