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2005 Storm Chasing Prediction Thread...

I stopped trying to chase up here last year. I admit that I'm no good at forecasting tornadoes here, and have had no luck.

It seems that the best events, or at least the ones people were willing to forecast in advance, happen during spring when I'm already on the plains. People say plains chasers 'ignore' Illinois, but the truth is that it's a long way away if you've just chased western Kansas, and if the models show another round of storms in a day or two, it doesn't make sense to huff it all the way up here then turn around and hurry back into the plains.

Then there are the majority of tornado events, which look to me, on paper, like perfect setups for squall lines or segments with embedded supercells. I hate that kind of crap, and I don't know how to discriminate between that mode (which is the most common) and those occasions when individual cells develop and produce tornadoes. The 0-3k SRH always looks terrible to me. Surface winds are often veered. Systems are ejecting rapidly from the plains and shearing out, with wild amounts of forcing and a monster cold front threatening to undercut anything not bolted to the floor. There isn't a subtle lifting mechanism in sight, except for maybe a surface trough with just enough convergence to lure you into a bust.

Jon Davies taught us about low-topped supercells ten years ago but 4-20 caught everybody by surprise. So far, I'm not aware of other chasers who have really specialized in forecasting tornadoes in this area (Illinios, Indiana, Michigan, whatever) with long-term success. At least they haven't made it public.

I'm not blaming the geography or the atmosphere. I admit that I just don't have the skill to make chasing here worth my gas money. So....I'll head for the Alley where I know the burritos have been under the lamp all morning. :)
 
Good point Amos - there are different 'rules' for synoptic setups for different parts of the country. I actually had found a rather interesting article online one day that I found rather informative, perhaps others who have not seen it before will enjoy it also:

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ama/Research/Viole..._Mesoscale.html

Glen

Excellent information, Glen. I pretty much agree with what everyone has said about chasing east of the MS, and I too probably wouldn't stray as far as IL for a squall line. However, I probably would still drive a good 100 miles to witness an awesome bow echo or catch part of a derecho, I love storms, and have no discrimination. But like Amos said, it's not worth driving a significant amount to witness that, when in a couple days you could be looking at a tornado. As for most tornadoes in MI, it's generally agreed that they are hard to find, and when you do, you get a 1-2 minute show of something you THINK is a tornado, and that's only if you can see it between the trees (at least here in MI) and have a telescope. If the setup looked perfect for tornadoes in IL, chances are good that I would head out (MI/IN are a given, I'm out for pulse storms, LOL), but again, even with the Roanoke storm, things are pretty much a "caught you off guard" situation...
 
That link is fantastic, and I only skimmed the first half. I have definitely saved this into my weather/chasing favorites, and will use this to assist in future target decisions on days with explosive potential. Very interesting stuff there.
 
Nick, you can have Michigan all to yourself, and I hope you see 30 wedges this year. Me, I'll take my chances in the Plains, where we might have fewer tornadoes some years than other places, but at least when we do, you can see them.

Shane, I've had Michigan all to myself for years now... LOL! If I see a wedge this year, it will be on the plains as if I don't chase on the plains this year then I'll never get my documentary done! LOL.

My point I was trying to make is that Roanoke, Utica and quite a few other tornado events were totally viewable and chaseable. It's just that very few got down there in time to see them.

Why did so few people from Illinois see alot of tornadoes in 2003 or 2004? Maybe it's because there isn't enough hardcore chasers in Illinois, then... that will chase every opportunity possible like many of the chasers on the plains.
 
I agree with most people's sayings, that the plains have much better setups for chaseable storms and better vis. compared to the upper midwest/great lakes. Sure, Ill, Indy, Ohio, Michigan can get some good setups and even an outbreak or two, but those are few and far between.

Here is something i have noticed over the past few years. It seems that the strongest tornados occur in the great plains, surprise surprise, but that most of the tornado related deaths occur in the ohio valley, upper midwest, etc. As many have said before, many of the events are surprises such as utica and the green lake wis. tornados. This leads to more of a shock factor when the storm hits. Also, John Q public doesn't usually think of bad weather when most of the day is cloudy and cool, as is the case during many of the mini supercells outbreaks along warm fronts that occur in this part of the country. So, when that warning is issured, most people think the NWS is off there nut and ignore it.
 
Im going to be bold and disagree with you all on the Illinois chaseability issue. I'm by no means, comparing the state to the plains, but merely stating that I dont think its a bad place to chase at all. Maybe you've all had some bad luck up here or something...but the road network here is terrific, as its a grid system almost anywhere you go...and I'll pay you to find a hill or forrest in this place. Just in 2004...this area had many chase days, with very visible tornadoes...a couple being

The much talked about April 20th outbreak had several strong/visible tornadoes...the most famous being the Utica tornado

http://www.creativejetstream.com/sitebuild.../granville1.jpg

But also further west several caught a downplayed strong tornado near Camp Grove, IL

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx/events/apr2020...campgrove17.jpg

May 23rd...a case where I picked the wrong sup...but, near Bloomington, IL a nearly 300 yard wide F2 tornado tore up the countryside

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx/events/may2320...004/chenoa1.jpg

May 30th yeilded a high risk chase that dropped one of the best Illinois tornadoes I've seen near Secor, IL

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx/events/may3020...2004/secor4.jpg

Then there was the Roanoke F4, which we've all seen hundreds of times. While the claim may be made that even the Roanoke tornado was one that caught most off guard, it was a moderate risk day, and with CAPE values nearing 7000-8000 j/kg, its not as if there was no warning. Anyway...the point I'm trying to make with all these photos...is that Illinois has many chase chances over the course of the year...but you just have to be willing to chase it. We dont have nearly as many chasers in this state so there are quite a few less catches that get high attention levels...but they're definetly there.
 
Im going to be bold and disagree with you all on the Illinois chaseability issue.
Fair enough.... but let's take a closer look at these events relative to 'good' events by central plains standards.

The much talked about April 20th outbreak had several strong/visible tornadoes...the most famous being the Utica tornado

http://www.creativejetstream.com/sitebuild.../granville1.jpg

But also further west several caught a downplayed strong tornado near Camp Grove, IL

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx/events/apr2020...campgrove17.jpg

April 20th could count as an outbreak - which is pretty rare here. Tornadoes were reasonably visible - it did occur during daylight hours, and over (pretty much always) open, flat country. Cells were discrete, moving fast but not unreasonably so, and several cells were cyclic tornado producers. The downside is of course the fact that it was horribly forecast by all. If you can't forecast it - then it is really tough to chase it.

May 23rd...a case where I picked the wrong sup...but, near Bloomington, IL a nearly 300 yard wide F2 tornado tore up the countryside

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx/events/may2320...004/chenoa1.jpg

This was a lone tornado event - definitely not an outbreak, and the tornado tracked 8 miles in 8 minutes - or 60 mph! Pretty tough to follow that. So I don't rank these event very high.

May 30th yeilded a high risk chase that dropped one of the best Illinois tornadoes I've seen near Secor, IL

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx/events/may3020...2004/secor4.jpg

Here was a day that looked like it had promise - visibility was good - and this high base storm did produce a rather aesthetic tornado - but again this was the only tornado this cell produced, and then things became linear rapidly. So, this event gets mediocre marks for poor productivity.

Then there was the Roanoke F4, which we've all seen hundreds of times. While the claim may be made that even the Roanoke tornado was one that caught most off guard, it was a moderate risk day, and with CAPE values nearing 7000-8000 j/kg, its not as if there was no warning. Anyway...the point I'm trying to make with all these photos...is that Illinois has many chase chances over the course of the year...but you just have to be willing to chase it. We dont have nearly as many chasers in this state so there are quite a few less catches that get high attention levels...but they're definetly there.

This was an amazing tornado but nearly impossible to forecast - the cell was only 30 minutes old when it produced this tornado. Chasers desire long-lived supercells that track at reasonable speeds - this storm only had the latter. After this tornado, the system rapidly evolved into a bow echo - so again - not an ideal chase scenario.

So, really despite there being events in IL - none of these are ideal. By contrast, there were a number of ideal events elsewhere this past year.... so I'm guessing that you just haven't experienced what a really good chase is - then your standards would shun some of the events you highlighted.

Glen
 
and I'll pay you to find a hill or forrest in this place.

Lived in Quincy for many years, and I can tell you the Lincoln Hills region between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers can be quite hilly and forested. Not a good place at all to chase. However, you're right about the rest of the state (except for the southern end as well, again pretty hilly and forested.)

So were do I pick up the check. :)

Regards,

Mike
 
Andrew,

The idea is to dissuade others from chasing around here. The place to be these days is GRI!

Muuwahahahaha... :twisted:

Fabian
 
Seems to me that any region who's chaseability requires constant defense is pretty telling in itself, along with the fact that every notable, recent event is easily remembered. That tells me there wasn't much to choose from. I think the main thing to remember is, it's the area that's sub-par, not the chasers.
 
Im going to be bold and disagree with you all on the Illinois chaseability issue. I'm by no means, comparing the state to the plains, but merely stating that I dont think its a bad place to chase at all.

I'm one for one chasing ILL lifetime, batting 1.000. But that's one chase out of 179.
 
Shane and Andrew are both right in their own respects. Illinois is quite chaseable, but it does not compare to chasing the dryline over the Caprock and western OK/KS.

IL has enough meat and potatoes to keep its local chasers (and midwest chasers for that matter) satisfied. 4/20 was a feast handed out on a silver platter (if you kept an eye on what the weather was doing instead of making plans once the DAY1 was issued). Discreet LPish supercells lined across the state (and IN), most of which dropped. Once again though, it wasn't thanksgiving like May 12 in the Plains.

The other notable IL events of 2004 were also quite chaseable. I lost out on May 23 due to lack of data, and May 30 as well mainly because this googly eyed newbie was blinded by a barrage of tor warned linear storms. I'd love to make it out to the plains this year and see some real storms, but if I don't I think we can agree that IL is just about the next best thing.
 
This was an amazing tornado but nearly impossible to forecast - the cell was only 30 minutes old when it produced this tornado. Chasers desire long-lived supercells that track at reasonable speeds - this storm only had the latter. After this tornado, the system rapidly evolved into a bow echo - so again - not an ideal chase scenario.

The supercell that produced the Roanoke developed HOURS before way up in NW Illinois!

The NWS was talking about the developing supercell, here....

SHORT TERM FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE QUAD CITIES IA IL
954 AM CDT TUE JUL 13 2004

ILZ001-002-007-131600-
FREEPORT-GALENA-MOUNT CARROLL-
954 AM CDT TUE JUL 13 2004

.NOW...
A VERY STRONG THUNDERSTORM WILL EFFECT PORTIONS OF SOUTHERN JO DAVIESS AND STEPHENSON COUNTY THROUGH 11 AM. THIS STORM MAY PRODUCE WINDS UP TO 50 MPH AND TORRENTIAL RAIN...AS WELL AS FREQUENT LIGHTNING. TAKE COVER IF YOU ARE IN THE PATH OF THIS STORM!!


and here was the very first tornado warning on the storm...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN THE QUAD CITIES HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTHEASTERN BUREAU COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL ILLINOIS

* UNTIL 130 PM CDT

* AT 1221 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM LIKELY TO PRODUCE A TORNADO 10 MILES NORTHWEST OF LA MOILLE...OR ABOUT 14 MILES SOUTH OF DIXON...MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 30 MPH.

* THE TORNADO IS EXPECTED TO BE NEAR...
LA MOILLE BY 1240 PM CDT
LADD BY 100 PM CDT
DALZELL BY 105 PM CDT


Hours later it went on to produce the F4 in Roanoke...

..Nick..
 
The supercell that produced the Roanoke developed HOURS before way up in NW Illinois!

That was a different supercell that passed well northeast of Roanoke. The storm in question went from initiation to tornado in about 40 minutes. The radar imagery and discussion from NWS-ILX helps: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx/events/jul132004/jul13.php

This is the 0.5 degree reflectivity image from the Lincoln Doppler radar at 2:01 pm. The Roanoke storm will quickly evolve from the shower located just east of Spring Bay.
...
At 2:41 pm, the Parsons plant is being demolished by the tornado
...
At 2:56 pm, the appendage is no longer readily visible, as the storm pulls away from the Roanoke area.

Radar pictures:
2:01pm http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx/events/jul1320...lx-ref1901z.png
2:41pm http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx/events/jul1320...lx-ref1941z.png
2:56pm http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx/events/jul1320...lx-ref1956z.png
 
The supercell that produced the Roanoke developed HOURS before way up in NW Illinois!

Nick, you are mistaken. That is NOT the cell that produced the Roanoke F4. Go to the NWS review of this event.

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ilx/events/jul132004/jul13.php

The cell developed at 2:01 with a TVS at 2:26, and the tornado touched down at 2:34.

The cell that you are thinking of produced a lot of hail, and a brief tornado in Bureau County. Here is a nice image showing both storms.

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lot/science/13Jul2...04/Lr1942za.JPG

The Roanoke cell is on the bottom left, the morning cell that you are thinking of is on the right.

Glen
 
Ah yes, I remember a thread in 2004 a few days after the event. If I am not mistaken, the ETA did horrible on forecasting the backed SFC winds, where as the RUC did an excellent job (the 03HR RUC, prior to the event mind you). The orinal threat appeared to be in the form of supercells with large hail and damaging wind, with perhaps a few weak tornadoes. Of course, some situations don't evolve as expected, and thus we ended of with this destructive tornado.

Also of note, I believe this is the event that killed most of the forecasted oubtreak (in the form of a squall line) over upstream areas of the Great Lakes by cooling the boundary layer over the area of anticipated initiation (southern WI/IL)... However, my dates could be confused...
 
So, really despite there being events in IL - none of these are ideal. By contrast, there were a number of ideal events elsewhere this past year.... so I'm guessing that you just haven't experienced what a really good chase is - then your standards would shun some of the events you highlighted.

Glen


Yeah...Im only 18, and have only for the past few years been able to actually get out and chase, so Illinois is all I know and can defend. Thats why I said I wasnt trying to say Illinois was better...just stating that, Illinois isn't THAT bad. This year will be the first year I'll really be chasing the plains with any regularity, and am sure that my opinion on this state will change...but for the last few years its been something I can live with.
 
So, really despite there being events in IL - none of these are ideal. By contrast, there were a number of ideal events elsewhere this past year.... so I'm guessing that you just haven't experienced what a really good chase is - then your standards would shun some of the events you highlighted.

Glen


Yeah...Im only 18, and have only for the past few years been able to actually get out and chase, so Illinois is all I know and can defend. Thats why I said I wasnt trying to say Illinois was better...just stating that, Illinois isn't THAT bad. This year will be the first year I'll really be chasing the plains with any regularity, and am sure that my opinion on this state will change...but for the last few years its been something I can live with.

Yes, I agree with that. Being young and/or new to chasing (i.e. one or two years of YOU driving), you take what you can get. I think it's a good thing, as it prepares you for the 'real' thing on the Plains. And, if you have the patients to chase in IL (or any other state that must be 'defended'), it will makes things a bit easier on the Plains, I am guessing. My main goal is NOT to see a tornado, or else there would be 95% failure where I am at, my goal is rather to at least witness nice structure, lightning, strong winds, etc.. But, obviously tornadoes are very nice, too :wink:
 
It is all good practice. I've been interested in chasing storms since I learned to walk and talk...but, really theres not much I could do about it until around 15 or 16 years old besides watching from home. I started by just playing around with the weaker storms in the area...but stayed at home with the more severe things, just to get a feel for how storms were out in the open, and get a feel for how I would have to play them. Then a year later I began going out close to home with storms that actually reached severe limits, but never really left the county. Then, this past season, I began chasing further out across the entire state of Illinois, and into iowa and Indiana a couple times to get a better feel for the more long distance chases. Now, having that practice in the area, I think I've finally got enough "experience" or practice to really sink myself into the whole chasing experience.
 
The last few times it looked like there was going to be an outbreak (for example 5-30-04 and 4-11-01 it busted.

I disagree. The morning of 5-30-04 did not look good for Wisconsin. Sure the possibility was there, but to cite it as a bust is off base. Even before venturing out Saturday 5/29 in north central KS we had our decision made that central IL was going to produce on Sunday. That being said with only 3 hours of sleep for myself we made it to Peoria/Pekin just in time. Saw the nice dog-legged good contrast tornado in Woodford county. TWC had footage of it that day (not ours) for those that remember.

The good low level moisture never made it into southern WI. There were early morning storms affecting parts of northern IL on 5/30 and the atmosphere never rebounded.

As for the person that commented on the "void" in MO, I am sure its a combination of topography/road network/visiblity/less chasers. We drove through MO on I44 and I was astonished by the terrain and the amount of trees. To put things in perspective I was born and raised in northern WI.
 
Well I duno about being that harsh about it... That's a HUGE risk area, and an error of +/- 50-100 miles for the far southern part of WI is certainly acceptable for me. I'm sure the SPC forecasters couldn't spend unlimited time on determining to the EXACT positioning of the highest risk areas on days which feature a synoptic-scale severe weather outbreak... I mean, there were 873 severe reports, which is absolutely remarkable to me.
 
Well I duno about being that harsh about it... That's a HUGE risk area, and an error of +/- 50-100 miles for the far southern part of WI is certainly acceptable for me. I'm sure the SPC forecasters couldn't spend unlimited time on determining to the EXACT positioning of the highest risk areas on days which feature a synoptic-scale severe weather outbreak... I mean, there were 873 severe reports, which is absolutely remarkable to me.

I have to agree, that forecast was near perfect, although it was the 2000Z outlook, so they had a head start :wink:

If any area had a botched forecast, it was areas east of the MDT and HIGH risk, where the biggest concentration of wind reports exist...
 
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