Plainfield, IL Weather Seminar

I just wanted to comment on the Plainfield Weather Seminar that was held yesterday. The event was a four hour advanced spotter training with special talks from the NWS and Tom Skilling of WGN. I'm gonna guess that somewhere between 400-500 people attended, the auditorium at the Plainfield high school was nearly full. The event was to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Plainfield F5, that wiped out much of the town and the old Plainfield high school.

The spotter training was the most advanced that I have gone, and was very well done. The three NWS guys did an excellent job with their presentations and didn't miss any details or misconceptions. A fascinating comparison was done between the July 13 2004 Roanoke F4 and the 1990 Plainfield F5. The similarities between the two events were impressive: summer setups with northwest flow, dewpoints at 80 degrees, and very similar soundings and satellite.

Tom Skilling is also an excellent speaker, and he knows his stuff.
Tom brought up some interesting topics. One was that the hybrid corn that is being grown in the Midwest is accounting for increased dewpoints. Something like four times the amount of vegetation is coming out of the fields now and its heavily impactiing evapotranspiration. Another interesting point was the polarity of the lightning strikes on the Plainfield storm. All were less common positive strikes until just the before the tornado touched down it went quiet. As the tornado formed, the strikes resumed, and almost all were negative.

It was fascinating stuff. Anyway, If anyone out here in IL missed the Plainfield talk be sure to check the schedules and attend the Fermilab talk. It should be just as good.
 
Originally posted by Skip Talbot
All were less common positive strikes until just the before the tornado touched down it went quiet. As the tornado formed, the strikes resumed, and almost all were negative.

I think this has been observed several times since as well. If I remember correctly (and that's a stretch for me sometimes), there is some thought that the percentage/trend of positive strikes in a storm may be one more possible discriminator of potential tornadogenesis.

Oh, and I'm from Plainfield, and graduated from Plainfield High School.

Plainfield, Indiana that is. ;)
 
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