Thursday, March 26, 2015

2015 Off to a Great Start

The 2015 chase season kicked off with a bang for most people yesterday, with strong supercells forming ahead of a lead impulse and the main trough/cold front in the late afternoon. Oklahoma and Arkansas both saw two tornadoes a piece. Sadly the Sand Springs tornado NW of Tulsa caused multiple injuries in a trailer park while also killing one person. Moore, the city that can't seem to catch a break, also got hit by a weak tornado that formed after the attendant supercell modified the front/OFB it was riding and seemed to have a very QLCS-esque circulation without an attendant large low-level mesocyclone. Yesterday was just plain strange from a meteorological perspective. 

As for my chase day, Noah Myers and myself left Norman around 3 PM CDT with an initial target of Minco. We cut down 9 through Blanchard, over to Chickasha but stopped short of Minco near Pocasset to watch as the beginning stages of convective initiation became visible to our NW. The front was visible on KTLX as a small band NW of El Reno and it initially looked like the storms might be instantly linear, but as we started moving west towards Gracemont it became apparent that the storms were actually semi-discrete. We got an excellent view of the storm as we closed in and managed to make it to a nice turn off on the west side of 281 north of Gracemont/Anadarko. The storm had decent mid-level rotation and ended up having a stacked plates appearance with laminar bands towards the top of the updraft tower. More linear storms with a rather ominous gust front were staying off to the north as the storm slowly pushed SE, staying out ahead with a nice rounded shape for the majority of our time on that road. After watching some decent attempts at organizing low-level rotation, the storm began to push too close, forcing us to drop south a bit to just north of Anadarko near the Delaware Nation headquarters. We watched dramatic outflow motion along the storm's still-sculpted gust front as well as a couple gustnadoes before continuing south onto HWY 9 back towards Chickasha. We got some pretty strong outflow winds on our way back and watched the storm's last attempt at a wall cloud get undercut by stable air before letting it pass over us in Chickasha. Finished off a nice day at the Dairy Queen, running into Ariel Cohen there, before heading back to Norman with a great lightning show to our SE. 

So far 2015 has started out great. While there were missed tornadoes yesterday, there was no way in hell I was going to chase back into the metro and the Tulsa storms had sailed NE before we even left Norman making the Anadarko storm an excellent prize in a decent roads network. A good looking supercell on the prairie is always a welcome event this early in the season. As of right now, the only thing showing up on the models of interest is a longwave moving into the central CONUS towards the end of next week. Details such as moisture and timing are still extraordinarily fuzzy, although this morning's 12Z GFS was very unkind towards the possibility of a solid fetch from the GOM. I'll likely have updates throughout next week on the status of another possible S Plains event late next week. Also be on the look out for my chase logs for March 19th and March 25th at the start of April. Enjoy your weekend, ladies and gents. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

First Chase of 2015 Down with More Coming

Sorry about the delay folks, a rather busy weekend kept me from updating about the first chase of 2015. The bleak, tornado-less March got a little better after me and two chase partners bit on the marginal day across NW TX on March 19 (last Thursday). We initially targeted Vernon before repositioning soutb closer to Seymour. We traipsed between Archer City and Seymour three times before finally busting it east for the best storm of the day near Windthorst. We got some nice looking supercellular structure with one hell of a core punch to get to it. We also learned that Baylor county has the  worst road network around. But I'll leave more details for the next chase log.

This week looks to be the first two day series of events of the year. Tuesday and Wednesday both hold consider severe potential starting with MO and NE OK Tuesday before the cold front washes out and allows for a strong fetch across S OK/N TX on Wednesday before it comes sweeping back down. I'm looking at chasing Wednesday due to time constraints tomorrow, but it looks like one of these days may finally get us on the board for a tornado in March. I'll likely save my next update for the weekend so be on the lookout!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

2015 Becoming Chaser Purgatory

Very warm temps continue to prevail across the prairie under mostly clear skies. Norman is currently sitting at 70F per the Oklahoma Mesonet and chasers across Faecbook , Stormtrack and Twitter continue to grow antsy with each passing day of "dull" weather. The Rex block over the west coast continues to lurk throughout the majority of the reasonable forecast period with the southern branch of the split flow resulting in moisture being dammed along the Gulf coastline. The SPC reports graph shows 2015's plot as a complete flat line in terms of tornadoes since just past the second week of January with roughly 25 reports since January 1st. This has been the slowest year since 2002 in terms of overall reports, with the mean number being 146 by this point. While there is no correlation to the quality of the season, it is a bit concerning that there might not be one severe weather episode before the final week of March based on the progs. With chasers already going mad from the long off season, it could cause an enormous amount of chaser convergence on the first Plains event.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spring Arrives on the Prairie

The first bout of extended warm weather has finally arrived. While precipitation chances still exist across south-central Oklahoma through tonight and tomorrow, it will blessedly just be rain. The smell and feel of spring is back from the cross timbers to the High Plains. While the upper-air pattern looks bleak in terms of severe weather, the general consensus is that these warm temps are here to stay through at least the start of my spring break which begins next weekend. While these higher temps further west may dry out some of that soil moisture we picked up from the recent snowfall, it's still welcome to just change the mood. The annual chaser chatter that accompanies the start of March has quieted down a bit as the impending rex block draws ever closer, but the promise of likely setups in less than a month (April) is keeping people in generally better spirits. This season continues the narrative of slow starts that plagued the previous two years (2013 & 2014) but the storms will come. It's years like this where patience becomes more and more crucial the deeper into spring you get without setups.

So chin up people, the supercells and tornadoes are coming, it's just a longer waiting game than usual.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Cleaning Off the Cobwebs

Norman took an absolute clobbering in Oklahoma terms from the winter weather event that unfolded over the course of this weekend. Most side streets were sheets of ice well into the afternoon and evening yesterday with the traditional bad driving that always accompanies Texans and Oklahomans when there's snow on the ground. The white death from above has done nothing to damper my spirits as we roll into a cold March, even as it looks more and more likely that this will be my latest start to a season since 2009. I've been working on clearing off all my SD cards, finding all the other things that have been spread about over the previous 6 months (road atlases are surprisingly good at disappearing), and finally planning out funds and days I will most certainly not be able to chase due to school and other events.

The lead-up to the 2015 season has given off one of the strangest vibes I can think of since I started chasing. It feels great to be in March but the desperation for storms, while still there, hasn't driven me to the brink of insanity just due to the sheer volume of other things I have going on right now. I've been itching to get out of Norman and back onto the prairie that I love so much but there's no real sense of urgency now that we've hit March. Whether it's maturity or just plain lethargy I'll never know, but it's nice to not be totally emotionally invested in when the season will actually offer the first setup on the Plains. But for the other out there who are craving supercells and tornadoes, we're not too far away.

Also, tune into the Ghost Train tonight at 7:30 CST to get an awesome rundown of the new Stormtrack from Steve Miller and the rest of the mods at