2018 severe wx/chase season discussion

Discussion in 'Advanced weather & chasing' started by Warren Faidley, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. John Farley

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    In today's 1630Z outlook, SPC mentions possible upgrades in the next outlook for three different regions. Not sure I have ever seen that before, but I think that is a good example of what people have been talking about in this thread, i.e. days where you don't know much until the day of or very close. This can work out great if you live near the threat area and have a flexible schedule or are on chasecation already in the area. Of course, as others have said, not so much if you have to travel or have inflexible schedules. But for those whose situations are right, opportunities will arise, though they may not be evident too far ahead. I will say this, though - some of my best chase days have been when something has arisen on short notice near where I already was. So if you have some flexibility, pay attention to the short term.
     
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  2. Brandon Centeno

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    Just because SPC is upgrading for wind or hail doesn’t make it a good chase day.
     
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  3. John Farley

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    It might be a good chase day in the Colorado potential upgrade area, though. If I lived in DEN, I would be out there today. A little too far from Pagosa Springs, though, given the marginal nature of the setup. That is what I meant by if you live in the area. One other thing - perhaps unlike some others, I don't have to have a tornado to have a good chase day, though that is always nice. A spectacular supercell or even a really impressive shelf cloud counts as a good chase day for me.
     
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  4. Alex Elmore

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    I'd say that depends on what your goals are when chasing. As @John Farley expressed above, if you just want to see or experience a good, strong storm, I see no issue with this logic. Seeing an increase in confidence of any severe hazard for an area, whether you are targeting that area, live in that area, or were on the fence about driving to that area, I would argue, is seldom a bad thing from a chasing perspective.
     
  5. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    My first storm on the Plains was the May 27, 2001 derecho. Looking back, that was a really junky NW flow setup tornado-wise (by my standards now at least), but it was pretty memorable and I'm glad I was there. I would probably bite on a similar setup today.
     
  6. Quincy Vagell

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    I almost went to Colorado today, but I couldn't justify a 9-hour drive, gas and a hotel stay, plus missing work, for a one off. It definitely looks like a worthwhile local chase and I've certainly had a bunch of memorable chases on <2% tor days as well. I've even had solid chases on days that were sub-MRGL at 1300z.

    Not everyone has the flexibility, but I'm saving for later in the season, or at least until we get a better moisture/instability/shear combination. For those on chasecations, at least we're getting thunderstorms. If you're willing to stray a bit from "typical" chase territory and ride some conditional plays, I'm sure you'll have at least a few memorable chase days over the next two weeks. Be adaptive and expect the unexpected.

    One of my favorite unexpected chases was 6/13/16. I started the day, if I recall correctly, in South Dakota. My target was eastern Colorado. By early afternoon I bailed south because storm modes were turning into garbage. I ended up catching a tornado at sunset near Amarillo, an area that didn't even get a 2% tor delineation until 1630z. You never know.
     
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  7. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    As bad as it is, we're not at rock bottom (yet). At least we are seeing daily storms -supercells even - on the dryline and on the Front Range. There will be short puffs of flow here and there over 60s dews in the southern/central Plains for the foreseeable future. It's not great, I know - bad, in fact - but not as bad as it *could* be. In late May 2006, you practically had to go to the Dakotas or the Midwest to see a thunderstorm with more than 15kts of flow.

    That being said, this year could certainly be a contender for the worst ever if June does not perform. 2006 had several good early-season events before it went to junk. This year's late winter coupled with a 2006-like peak season would be one for the record books.
     
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    #207 Dan Robinson, May 14, 2018
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
  8. Devin Pitts

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    I'm pretty much committed to my chasecation that starts Friday and runs through Memorial Day(cant shift it unfortunately) so this pattern is definitely disappointing, but I see a few opportunities at some shortwave action this weekend and mid next week possibly. Gotta take what I can get, and a 5% tor day is more than chaseable. Some of my best tornado days were on 5% days with meh flow aloft so I'm still a little optimistic at least.
     
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  9. Quincy Vagell

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    Even with pronounced ridging being progged for late May in the vast majority of the ensembles, there is another way to look at it. Verbatim, I would think the High Plains would see a fair amount of activity. I could even see a scenario where Montana and the western Dakotas come into play, earlier than climatology suggests. The beauty about that happening is that as you become farther displaced from the southern Plains, one would expect less chaser convergence. Sure, it's probably not worth a drive from Oklahoma City to Montana, unless it's a Moderate Risk event, but anyone who is chasecationing should be open to chasing up north, assuming adequate boundary layer moisture return. If there's a setup with 20kt flow at 500mb in West Texas vs. 40kt in eastern CO/WY, even if buoyancy is much lower, I'd favor the northern area.

    Who knows. I rarely look at the ensemble control runs, but just to get an idea of one possible scenario, I glanced at the latest European ensemble control run. It does show substantial ridging into southern Canada in late May, but there are multiple (albeit subtle) shortwaves that impinge on the High Plains. It would be silly to take that one run seriously, but it supports the idea that just because an ensemble shows mean ridging, does not mean that every single member shows a stout ridge that doesn't budge for two weeks. Yes, the signal overwhelmingly favors positive height anomalies across the Plains, but even that idea suggests that the pattern gets shifted north (and probably west a bit). I'd much rather chase in Colorado in late May than Missouri.

    I almost forgot that the Euro weeklies come out this evening. I've learned to not take them too seriously more than 2-3 weeks out, but it will be interesting to see what the model shows happening from late May into early June. We'll follow up after that data is released.
     
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  10. Warren Faidley

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    Very well stated. I've been eyeing eastern Colorado, SW NE and the Goodland areas as a base point for the team this season starting this weekend. With limited forcing / shear forecast in most traditional areas this might be play considering RH is still forecast to be good. Eventually, the cap will be factor, especially further south. Pueblo's latest discussion noted next Monday as an "interesting day" and I agree.
     
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  11. Andy Wehrle

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    Well heck I wouldn't mind being on that storm south of Wichita right now.
     
  12. Randy Jennings

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    Given the upper level setup currently, Dan is right - at least we are seeing storms each day. Sure, if all one is interested in is tors, then it is disappointing, but if you are a storm chaser, there is stuff to see. Today is an excellent example. I looked at models this am and saw nothing worth going out for except for the Denver Convergence zone, and that was too far for a day chase for me. A few hours later my chase partner sent me a screen shoot of someone's post about the OK panhandle. I looked at models again and while I the OK panhandle was no good I told my partner, dang I wish we had time to drive to south central KS, and sure enough, a few hours latter their was a confirmed tornado in a lone supercell in southern KS. I wouldn't trade living on the southern plains and I am glad I don't have to decide when to chasecation, but today is one of those days where being a chasecatioer and chasing regardless of the SPC outlook pays off. So all you non-plains folks, come chase and enjoy yourself. You probably will not get day after day of photogenic tors, but you will see "wonders of nature".
     
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  13. Quincy Vagell

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    This evening was a good example of just how hard storm chasing is. Sometimes the "clearer" target doesn't pan out and the conditional threat zone manages to thread the needle. If you live and die by UH tracks, or SPC outlooks (I'm not saying anyone here does that, but from a modeling perspective), Colorado would have been the clear target over Kansas today. On the other hand, limited boundary layer moisture and relatively small buoyancy over Colorado suggested a much greater hail threat than any tornadoes.

    The models were actually decent in the southern Kansas vicinity today. There was a fine line between favorable shear to the NW and large buoyancy to the SE. The two overlapped in a narrow corridor that happened to have the influence of some outflow boundaries. Even most of the CAMs showed hints of discrete/semi-discrete storm modes, but given an overall lack of stronger deep layer shear, it was not a slam dunk. At 4:45 this afternoon, I was done with committments and contemplated racing north, but knew it was very conditional. (traffic, storm longevity, etc.) In the end, I would have been about a half hour late, so I would have rather sat it out than rush, only to waste four hours and narrowly miss a short-lived tornado.

    With all of this said, we can envision similar setups later this week (marginal shear/favorable instability), but watch, there will be times that nothing happens in the conditional threat area, while eastern Colorado does produce. In other times, the environment might be marginally favorable for supercells, but all that develops is a mass of multicells.

    Patience. That's arguably one of the most important aspects of storm chasing. Even if you botch up the target one day, you have to brush it off and start over again the next day. There's also a bit of reverse psychology that one must be careful about. As I mentioned earlier, just because a setup busted/over-performed one day does not mean that the same will happen the next.

    It took me years to land a Colorado tornado. It seemed that every time I chose Kansas over Colorado, I missed out on something big. Likewise, the times that I favored Colorado over Kansas, the opposite happened. In fact, I had quite a bit of junk chases in Colorado, probably more than anywhere else, except for Iowa. While storms are not completely random, there are sometimes such small scale influences that can vary from day to day (as well as location to location), that the amount of factors to consider can be overwhelming. Sometimes the setup doesn't even become clear until a few hours prior and often, it's too late by then. (see my Amarillo case above) That's why it's good to be wary of overanalyzing setups, but also having patience. One of the worst things you can do is to bail on your initial target, try to rush somewhere else and end up missing something where you first targeted. There are some times that you do need to bail, but that's a personal preference. Just more evidence that storm chasing and severe weather prediction are far from a perfect science.
     
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  14. Andy Wehrle

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    Well looky there, day 4 risk area after days and days of "potential too low" for that period.
     
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  15. Warren Faidley

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    Saturday also looks interesting and will likely be outlooked soon with some embedded 30-40kt SW flow.
     
  16. Brandon Centeno

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    Friday has been interesting to me for a while. Personally, I believe Thursday will see an upscale growing complex that will propagate into the low level jet flow Thursday night into Friday morning. I’d expect this MCS to track through SW NE into N or NW KS and beyond, meaning there may be an outflow boundary target on Fri.
     
  17. Jeff House

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    Raton Mesa magic is possible on Monday, per Pueblo and Warren's post midway up above. Separately, Quincy notes the forecast challenges KS vs CO. When to trust the DCVZ? I like temps of 80 and dews above 60 with a backed 850 prog. Thursday?

    The Arkansas City area tornado (not in town) is testimony to May mesoscale events. It adds some confidence in the coming short-wave, which should have better (though still modest) shear. Thursday could get going Palmer Divide (DCVZ) north into Neb. Friday DL has potential, but sub 68 dews adds cluster risk. Saturday (day 5 caution) looks a bit like the Ark City are tornado day.

    Middle of next week some model agreement is increasing on a weak short-wave. Attm looks like less than the coming weekend; but, a day 8-10 forecast can change a lot either direction. GFS denies after that; but, Euro and Canadian ensembles have some members opening the door Memorial Day weekend. None of this is great. Still, like Dan said, this is not 2006.
     
  18. Brandon Centeno

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    Disagree. Next weeks wave looks like a stronger/more prominent one. Especially on EPS and operational euro. FH 216 on ECMWF was a beauty.

    No love for Friday’s upslope game?
     
  19. Jeff House

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    Friday upslope is a target. I also like it Thursday. One could argue just stick with the DCVZ both days. Friday I'm saying the DL could work out too, esp near an outflow intersection. I inferred agreement from your post, but you find new ways to be disagreeable with everyone.

    If you like the bowling ball on the 216-222 ECMWF Op. Clark, she's a beauty! I'm not saying it will be a BB at day 9; ECWMF Parallel/Beta is more open but more north. Just playing your model game, this Friday shows better LLJ and upper dynamics.

    At this point I will shift my attention to Target Area threads. It is time to start taking it one day at a time as opposed to weekly.
     
  20. Brandon Centeno

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    My post about Friday was in jest...

    But bowling ball or not, my guess is next week has a better chance of an event of note than anything this week (sans maybe Friday). Just my opinion.
     
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  21. Warren Faidley

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    I guess it could be worse, big systems with HP mega storms moving at 60 mph and fronts pushing the juice all the way down to the oil rigs in the Gulf.o_O
     
  22. Brandon Centeno

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    That’s basically what is going on in the NE :)
     
  23. Royce Sheibal

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    We've skipped May and gone straight into June it appears, so prepare for a few 'ring of fire' type days as shortwaves roll around the Southeastern high.

    Day 4 (Friday) and Saturday looking interesting. Nice high plains setup + West/Central NE/KS action on Friday pulls a MCS across the warm front overnight. GFS and EURO both in pretty good agreement that the pattern will move a little east and a Colorado low will eject Friday night. Warm front lays down over NE/KS border area with decent shear / vort max timing. Could be a triple point play Saturday or possibly down along the dry line even though the models aren't hitting dryline right now, it would make sense. Temps are still a well below mega-cap levels for this type of setup, but the big question will be timing. Mid 60's TD's may not be enough for an event in KS/OK, whilst further north Mid 60's are more than enough should they reach the warm front in Neb.
     
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  24. Richard Mark Stephens

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    So I've been lurking the past couple of days on this forum, but thought it best to first introduce myself, and second gauge the room for a newcomer looking for some advice regarding next week.

    My name is Mark and I've been chasing the past three seasons as a hobby. I live and work in Philadelphia and have "chasecationed" the last few seasons and currently have reservations to come out again next week (May 21-May 27).

    As I just mentioned: I already have flights booked to come out during this time, but could still save time/money/vacation time if i cancel the trip. I could probably hold off until Thursday or Friday on making any definitive plans, as I know the data that comes in the coming days will change the outlook for next week. I also feel that if next week just looks like a total bust I'd rather just call it off sooner rather than later. It looks like the Jet Stream is not going to cooperate, but maybe there is potential for some MCS action? Does anyone have an opinion on if this will be worth the trip next week (tornado action).

    I'll be honest: as someone who live on the other end of the country-coming out for good storm structure/hail/lightning photos does not warrant the trip-just being real!!

    Thank you all for your continued commitment to a truly remarkable hobby or to some-career, as well as your advice/support
     
  25. Royce Sheibal

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    @Richard Mark Stephens

    CFS is not looking great for any 'big' events, but at that distance of 6-12 days, it really can only see big events with any minimal level of skill. It does however have a pretty good grasp on the overall pattern. GFS agrees on the pattern with days 6-12 looking very June-esque "ring of fire" scenario like I mentioned above. If you are willing to drive A LOT between the 21st and the 27th, you might get lucky.

    The Colorado upslope and TX panhandle will probably be slight risk days on the 21st and 22nd, with a better risk on the 23rd into OK and KS. Once we get to the 24th we're really on the edge of any reasonable model forecasting, but the pattern would indicate that NE/SD and the central plains might have a couple good days between the 24th and 27th. I would bet at least one of those 4 days will put out a few tors given a June-like setup.

    If you are willing to go out and do quite a bit of meso-analysis every morning to find your boundaries, you might do well and catch some tors, but by no means do any of these days at 6+ days out look like a silver bullet. More likely just a slightly more active pattern than recently, but still well below what most guys here get excited about. I'd be shocked if we had a moderate at all during that period, but sometimes ENH and slight days are the best chases.
     
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