Friday, February 22, 2013

March Fast Approaching

Hard to believe there's only a mere 6 days left until March is here. We're currently sitting in a very active meridional flow regime with system after system coming off the Pacific coast roughly ever other day. While the long-range models don't show any particularly promising pattern shift for severe weather any time soon, this current pattern is excellent for helping to alleviate some of the impacts of the severe drought across the southern plains, especially in SW Kansas and W Oklahoma. This is nowhere near a drought buster pattern, considering how severe the drought still is, but some snow pack and rain every few days should help prevent some of the moisture problems setups had out here last year when the severe weather season hits its stride.

In other news, all the gear is cleaned up and "refurbished" after the marginal chase bust in the Texas panhandle earlier in February. Finally found my pack of spare batteries that were hidden deep within the confines of my dorm room last week, which could have saved me ten bucks if I had remembered where I put the damn things earlier. But I'm already looking forward to what promises to be a great season, and hopefully another early one considering my current position. I'll only be out here until the second week of May and after that I'm tied down to a job and summer classes back home for the rest of the season. Hopefully April and the first week of May come up big or I may be suffering through a bad year (looking at you 2011).

So here's to the 2013 chase season, hope it rocks.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

February 9 2013 Chase Log

February 9 2013
James Gustina

Summary: The opening of my 2013 chase season. Marginal day with the possibility of supercells and isolated tornadoes along the Caprock. Chased with Brady Kendrick, Jon Stone, and Zach Elliot. Targeted Childress, TX ahead of the dryline but poor moisture return plagued this setup and storms ended up going after dark. Got some large hail out of it (golf ball to tennis ball sized) as well as some fun encounters with tumbleweeds on country roads.

The GFS had picked up on this day about 300 hourss out, albeit it with significant details still question marks. A positive/neutral trough was progged to come swinging through the southern plains with an attendant 80-90 knot jet streak rounding the base of the trough some time between 18 and 21Z. Moisture was set to hit the mid-60s with a modest shear environment. The day of things had changed drastically, with the dryline setting up west of I-27 and moisture return being a serious problem on the Caprock. The shear environment still  looked great with backed surface winds by 12Z with significant veering with height.

The night before I planned to chase with Brady Kendrick and Jon Stone. The tentative target was Childress where it looked like the best shear/moisture/MLCAPE would be. The morning of dews were barely hitting the lower to mid 30s in the southern panhandle.

We ended up rolling out of Norman around 11:30 that morning and after picking up Zach Elliot headed for Childress. We made a few brief stops, including at two abandoned bridges near Snyder, Oklahoma and in Hollis to check out a cool abandoned gas station.

After about twenty minutes of shooting we headed back out and ended up in Childress by 3. We grabbed lunch at Dairy Queen, something I hadn't been able to have since last July before I left for OU. We mulled over a CU field that had developed over the central panhandle just ahead of the dryline on I-27.


We decided to reposition to the north a bit as small showers popped up in the CU field. Unfortunately nothing was able to become rooted to the boundary layer and they ended up fizzling. We moved on through Memphis and then stopped a bit west of Memphis for a good while until sunset.

While we were sitting there Wesley Luginbyhl showed up and we chatted for a bit. We ended up heading back into Memphis to the Love's and grabbing some food. The general consensus was that storms would fire at some point after nightfall as the cold front and forcing caught up to the dryline. Sure enough, after about 45 minutes in Love's storms went up to our northwest near Clarendon. Unlike the earlier convection, the new storms actually got rooted and due to the favorable shear environment, got some weak mid-level rotation going. We blasted northwest towards Clarendon to get in the spot in case it decided to get its act together at the lower-levels. Unfortunately it never did but after playing chicken with it for about 15 minutes we got cored with some quarter sized stones. We hopped back on US 287 and went back towards Hedley and Memphis. At our second stop we tried again to get a view towards the updraft but the lightning was mostly cloud-to-cloud making it difficult. Shortly thereafter the bigger hail finally caught us. We estimated most of the stones were about golf ball but Brady picked up two or three dents that were at least tennis ball. After this we headed back into Hedley and then cut northeast as the storms picked back up again. Unfortunately the storms never quite got there and ended up lining out. We continued east back through Wellington and as we crossed into Oklahoma attempted to make a play on a tail-end charlie that was about to pass through Childress. That storm fizzled shortly after moving through Childress at which point we decided to call it a night. We made it back to Norman about 1 that night. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get any photos or video of the storms and the hail.

Even though the storms ended up being sub-par this was a fun way to start the season. It was still really fun to get out there again and hopefully 2013 comes out shooting when March rolls around.

Chase Stats
Miles Driven: 544
Cost: $45
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: Tennis ball (2 1/4")
Winds: None

130209_rpts Reports Graphic

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chase Season 2013 Opening Tomorrow

Well my season looks to be starting a little bit early this year. Heading out tomorrow on a little better than marginal chance of supercells and isolated tornadoes on the Caprock tomorrow evening. Hoping 2013 starts with a bang!