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March 31, 1979 STORM-TRACK Vol. 2, No. 3

3415 Slade Court $2.10/year Bi-monthly
Fairfax, Virginia

Once again a reminder from last year’s advice: Keep in mind that the National Weather Service
offices and the FAA flight service stations that we visit are there primarily to serve pilots and
the normal needs of the public. We must strive not to intrude and make nuisances of ourselves.
Patience, courtesy and sensitivity to the staff at these places, even when we’re in a hurry to see
the forecast data, will make the next visit easier, both for you and the chaser who follows you.

Name Address Chase country – range

James S. Lynch P.O. Box 3305 Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas

College Station, Tx 77840
(Biography: Age 23, single; graduate student employed
by Texas A & M University as a teaching assistant in
weather forecasting; also is one of the new coordinators
for the Texas A & M Severe Storm Intercept Project (chasing
in north-central Texas) and lead forecaster of the project.

IV. CAMERA TIPS [by David Hoadley]
When you catch the “big one,” take redundant pictures. Too often in the past, I have been “penny
wise and pound foolish”. And taken only one picture, saving my roll for something good later.
Don’t! If a publisher becomes interested in your pictures later on, he’ll want only the original.
If you send any slides away for professional printing-enlarging, the best print will come from the
original. Therefore, take at, least two or three pictures of the “big one” -at the same instant.
Then you have a backup for whatever use is made of it -and still have one left over for safekeeping.

P.S. For those who have the price ($49.95/3-23-78), the 16mm sound tornado-spotters movie
introduced at the Omaha conference in 1977 can be ordered from Capitol Film Laboratories Inc., 343
West 54th St., NY, NY 10019. Their Production Title is “Tornado” and the Item Code is #38001. I
highly recommend it, even if you have to rent a projector (like I do 2-3 times a year) to enjoy


VI. FEATURE – CB Radio [by David Hoadley]

For the first time this year, I will be using CB to monitor local traffic, road conditions
(flooding?), and “public” weather reports. My call sign is KBMI 9180 and my handle will be “Storm
Track.” The decision to install this unit, was prefaced by concern over the possibility of
enhanced lightning risk through the tall antenna. I wrote and talked with several meteorologists
and chasers to get a sense of the degree of added risk. The consensus was that the risk is only
slightly greater -not enough to deter the chaser who uses reasonable caution. That is, when
stopped beneath a thunderstorm and exiting the car, leave quickly and move away.

One of the respondents, who is well known in the field of lightning research, wrote the following:
“In my opinion, the installation of the CB antenna would not significantly increase the
probability that the automobile would be struck by lightning. I would estimate that the main
effect of the antenna would be to increase slightly the chance that the automobile or its
accessories could develop the streamer that would make contact with a descending stepped leader. I
am not aware of any increase in lightning accidents attributable to CB radios, and if I were you
would not hesitate to install one on your automobile.’

In “The brief period when leaving or entering your car, you are making electrical contact with
both it and the ground. [This”> is, as you recognise, a most dangerous period. … With or without
a CB antenna, the chances of a lightning discharge to the car are extremely small, and the chance
that this should happen at the moment you are getting in or out is -also- extremely small, so I
don’t think you are running any great risk. It is probable that you can reduce this risk by
jumping from the car to the ground in such a way that you do not form a conductive bridge.

“I think the increase in risk from having a CB antenna could be characterised as only slight.”

I also asked about any possible static warning that an incipient bolt might. provide over the CB
speaker. The same source said “it is possible to pick up radio static from the stepped leader for
as much as 30 or 50 milliseconds before the return strike, but I doubt that this would be of any
aid in increasing your safety.” (I believe this was an understatement) On the other hand, another
of my contacts, who has chased extensively, said that occasionally a vehicle antenna will emit a
high pitched hum or whistle a few seconds prior to a nearby lightning strike. In any case, the
February, 1979 Weatherwise reported no “CB related lightning casualties in 1978.”

FEATURE – “Show and Tell” [by David Hoadley]

The following illustrate storms that either fizzled or sent me in the wrong direction or indicated
good things to come. Hope that they and other advice from prior newsletters help make this year

your best chase yet. Good luck!

6-9-76, 1:30 CDT; east, central N. Dakota. 5-24-78, 5:15 CDT; SW S. Dakota. Isolated
CBs developed rapidly, initially in a broken
line, then joined, with raining bases and
merging (hard, sharply defined) anvils.
Extensive, closely packed, but small CN on
underside of anvils. Tornado occurred 175
miles ENE at 4:44 CDT from other cells
further east. Nearest northerly winds were
well over 150 miles WNW, and low center was
75 miles SW. Nearest significant dry line was
in NE Wyoming.

5-24-78, 5:15 CDT; SW S. Dakota. Isolated
pocket of initial CB development with high
bases, minor anvil shearing and minor CM
activity. At least one narrow, linear rain-
free base building into an anvil but
preceding a raining bass 5-10 miles further
west. No rain-free base ever did appear
either west or southwest of the precip area.
This pattern persisted until the near base
began raining, also. Nearest tornadoes were
200 miles S and SE at 5:40 and 11:45 CDT.
This area was within SW corner of a 4-10 CDT
tornado box, and was apparently a dry line
storm system.

5-31-78, 5:08; NE Kansas (Several chasers missed this one, which produced large tornadoes near
Emmett and Holton). The illustration above exaggerates the cloud scale in relation to the road,
for general perspective. Slowly developing supercell ENE of Manhattan started producing radar
hooks at 4:44 CDT 5 miles north of Lewisville. Several tornadoes were reported between Manhattan
and Wamego at 5;00 CDT. At about the same time, a classic text-book-model flanking line was
developing rapidly south to southwest of the main cell complex and merging with it. Its towers
were very hard and quite impressive, with rainfree bases and fractus beneath some. Also, its
location was almost dead center in the tornado box, and its development coincided with the mid-
time of the watch. The area from Manhattan to Wamego appeared very dark -a mix of heavy rain and
dark overcast- and cloud bases were indistinct, as seen from I 70. I was undecided to go toward
the most recent reported activity but was dissuaded by the proximity of a new western cell, whose
rapidly developing anvil was almost touching the Emmett-Holton storm’s anvil. I assumed that the
proximity of the new cell -near Salina- would stabilize the activity north of me, so I committed
myself to the flanking line to the east. It never produced! I should have gone north, where
tornadic activity continued from 4″.40 to about 5:40 CDT. I did note a slight gap between where
the flanking line joined the main cell and the seemingly disorganized complex of towers and dark
bases west of this juncture (north of me). This gap was evidenced by lack of significant towers
and was largely a precip area. As such, and in retrospect, it separated two segments of the main
storm. The area to the west of this slight break was the tornadic one on this day.

5-27-78, 12:13 CDT; Texas panhandle with cell
just west of Dimmitt. Building CB in clear
western air, merged into broken N-S CB
development, extending to near Cotton Center.
Latter development began in closely
scattered, dense cumulus buildups and was not
distinctly identifiable until several hours
later when the adjacent cumulus dis sipated.
Cell illustrated here initially developed
with a hi her base than local dew points of
over 65F would have indicated. Although rain-
free, no cumulus fractus or lowering of the
base followed. There was no dry line in the
area. I lingered too long, watching this one,
and missed the tornadoes from the cell 40
miles SE of this one.

5-26-73, 4-5 CDT; NE Oklahoma. On several
occasions, when fortunate to have
photographed two separate tornadoes on the
same day, I have noted a possible pattern for
multiple occurrences. The first tornado
dissipated (withdrew into the cloud base)
without losing its barrel or funnel shape,
whereas the second (occurring within 20 miles
and one hour of the first) “roped out”. If
further experience verifies this, it is
something to watch for.

Ed. note. As with last year, the May 31 issue
will be delayed until my return from this
year’s chase. As soon as possible, I will
complete and send it along.

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