Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Arrived!

Good evening. Or morning. Or something!

It's currently 9.47pm CDT, or to us, 3.47am! We've been up since around 6.30am yesterday and, although there was a bit of kippage on the plane, we're pretty knackered now.

We've picked up our car - a Dodge Durango GT - very pleasant! Pics tomorrow. We're now in Weatherford, Texas, and are just in from our first burgers of the trip in - guess where - Applebee's!

I don't think it'll be longer before we conk out now - just a few mins to let dinner go down a bit.

We'll head to Wal*Mart in the morning to pick up some supplies - a well-known ritual for us these days! I'll spend the time connecting up the laptop, and, probably, swearing at it. You never know, though - everything may work like a dream this time!

Plans thereafter - we'll decide tomorrow, but more than likely towards Amarillo ready to continue towards either Colorado or western Kansas on Wednesday ready for the chance of a few storms on Thursday. Late week and into the weekend should bring at least some chances for severe storms.

Stepping out into the Texas evening a bit earlier, with anvil cirrus from storms 90 miles to our west overspreading the sky, along with Altocumulus Castellanus beneath it was a somewhat magical experience for me - a goosebump moment as, all at once, it quickly dawned on me we were here! Not that it hadn't, but you know what I mean!

Monday, 22 May 2017

Just about time!

Morning! A few last moment things to do and items to pack before we head off. Although there is the chance of storms in Dallas later the first couple of days looks quiet before a chance of storms on Thursday in portions of the Central Plains, notably Colorado.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Preparations!

Hello.

Today, some preparations are taking place ahead of our trip. Things like charging batteries, clearing off memory cards, backing up the laptop, and also deleting quite a few pics from the laptop to free up some space for this year's pics and vids.

Reviewing today's longer range model output shows further hints of what ensembles have depicted - that is, after an unusually deep and digging trough across the southern and south-eastern states early-mid-week, the next trough digging in from the north-west looks to not push so much to the south-east, with the upper flow becoming a rather broad west-southwesterly over the US. This should encourage at least some return flow beneath modest lapse rates, and the chance of some storms through the latter part of the week. This is rather encouraging, given how strong the initial trough is - there were some concerns this would hang around in the east, driving moisture away, and although this is still not out of the question, it looks less likely.

After the weekend, some indications a ridge might try to form over the NW'ern states, ahead of a trough in the Pacific. Models tend to build these too strongly, and ensembles suggest the development of a western trough through the following week. This would suggest storm activity over portions of the Plains, but far too early to tell for sure!

The main thing is, though, to take it day by day and enjoy the experience!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Starting to gear up!

Hello!

Long time, no post! But we've reached that time of year again where we get ready to head out to the USA for our storm chasing adventure. The anticipation is building!

Today, a nasty outbreak of severe thunderstorms is expected across the Central Plains - strong-violent tornadoes are possible, with portions of southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma at highest risk. This is due, in part, to a strong upper low/trough, which will move slowly east and then north-east from the SW'ern USA over the next few days.

By Monday, this looks like being located somewhere north of the Great Lakes, over Canada. A rather pronounced ridge is likely to be in place over the NW'ern USA, not a sight storm chasers like to see!

By around mid-week, a new trough/low is progged to drop ESE through the northern and central Plains - this should help drive a cold front down to the Gulf states, and perhaps into the Gulf, shutting down any flow of moisture into the Plains for a time (more below!).

Earlier in the week, within a somewhat cyclonic flow regime, SW of the Great Lake low, moisture should be in place over the southern states, and several areas of thunderstorms should be present. A few severe storms may be possible, given reasonable upper level winds, but it may be that it's quite a messy picture.

Back to mid-late week, indications are that, under a rather broad/nebulous westerly flow, without any real focus trough-wise, moisture should start to return northwards through SW and W Texas. This is when some rather large differences in model output creep in. GFS is 'keen' on keeping a broad ridge-trough pattern in place, somewhat detrimental to chasing, but not totally. *If* moisture can move back north through the Plains, then some 'north-west flow' events, including MCS development, are possible.

On the other hand, the trend of ECMWF, overall a better model, is to tend to flatten the pattern (nice rhyme!) towards the end of next week, and instead of bringing another trough SE'wards, keeps it towards the Pacific NW and, thus, a broad westerly or SW'erly flow over the Plains. This would encourage moisture return, and whilst not guaranteeing thunderstorms, certainly puts one of the key ingredients in place, should subtle perturbations move through.

It should be noted that the ensembles of both models are somewhat split between these two scenarios. Trying to be objective, it does appear that the ECMWF trend has some support from how the ensembles have trended too - a few more of today's runs support this than yesterday. Let's see!

Beyond that it's really up in the air, so to speak (indeed, even later next week is far from certain!). However, quite a few suggestions that by the turn of the month, if not a bit before, western troughing should be more prevalent, which could signal a more robust uptick in potential.

As always, though, the main chase philosophy is to take it day by day, appreciate being out on the wild, wide open Plains, enjoy the hospitality, and just soak it all up. And take pictures. And videos. And eat burgers!