Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chase Season 2015 Opening with a Shot of Cold Air

Well ladies and gents, it's finally that time of year. Chasers are beginning to anxiously watch the GFS and ECMWF deep into the 200-300 hour range, the annual bickering from hell that accompanies February has begun and a massive thermal ridge popping a squat over the Pacific coast into the Bay of Alaska is sending us all into deep depression. To top it all off, the southern Plains look to be in the crosshairs of yet another winter weather event heading into this weekend, starting with heavy snow from the edge of the High Plains in E NM all the way to far SW Oklahoma, with smaller totals into central Oklahoma. March 1st is also staring a decently high probability of freezing rain in N Central Oklahoma.

But even through all that, the undeniable fact is that chase season will likely soon be upon us. The monstrous ridge responsible for all these polar air intrusions well into Texas and the Gulf Coast has been shown gradually de-amplifying and making way onshore as a large trough swings through the central Pacific late in the 192 hour period. Yesterday saw the US avoid going tornado-watchless for the month of February with the first watch and tornado warning I've seen in a very long time. Repeated Gulf sweepers and cold air blasts are keeping me with my crabby expectations but its only a matter of time before the pattern shift comes and the tornadic thunderstorms return to the Plains.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Starting Shot for Chase Season 2015 Closing In

As of 12 AM this morning, we sit poised 19 days away from the opening of chase season. The current pattern does not appear overly favorable for convection before the last week and a half of February, but a potential pattern shift with the omega block breaking down and west coast troughing beginning might in the works about 10 days down the line (only the most accurate data known to man /s). Obviously this is wishful thinking, but an early return to troughing on the west coast with the main flow branch being shunted northward a bit would be a welcome change to the relatively dull temperature roller-coaster that has been February so far.

A lot of my first chases of the year have tended to come earlier rather than later (March 2, February 9, and March 15 respectively) over the past three seasons but I also hold no illusions to the likely quality of any setup that may present itself. A tornado before April would be quite the surprise at this point. But maybe I'll get lucky with a good supercell before too long a la 2012.