Friday, June 17, 2016

A June to Forget

After the swashbuckling few weeks of May that spat out the best tornadoes of the season, it seems June isn't likely to follow with it's own show. June 11, June 13 and June 14 all produced good tornadoes on the Plains, most notable was probably June 13, which saw a decently structured cone from Trinidad, CO to the Black Mesa of Oklahoma (OK's highest point) and then followed up with a large tornadic supercell north of Amarillo and south of Morse which spat out one solid tornado before congealing in the Canadian River Valley. But, the paucity of consistent setups is what's putting this June up there as a tough one. The death ridge currently sitting over us has been allowing massive amounts of moisture from the GOM to flow northward (The Norman Mesonet site recorded 91/78, the second highest dewpoint temperature in it's history) but the strength of the high pressure dome currently over the Central and Southern Plains is forcing impulses well into Montana and beyond. It's looking unlikely that I'll be stepping out the door to go roam the Great Plains any time soon as it stands, and it may end up being autumn before I get the opportunity for one last round of chasing before winter sets in.

Friday, June 10, 2016

May 9 2015 Chase Log


A tricky moderate risk chase day to say the least. Initially thought Wichita Falls would be sufficient as a target but ended up getting hamstrung by not bolting for the Cisco storm early, which would produce a slow-moving EF3 stovepipe. We wound up picking the middle storm for unknown reasons near Graham, TX and watched easily the least impressive supercell of the day slowly kill itself as it traipsed east through god awful terrain.This day would become more noted for the absolutely stunning tornadoes that occurred on the High Plains of Colorado near Eads, with the middle ground in OK/KS getting rained out as was tradition for 2015.

This day was the first chase opportunity that presented itself after I had fully finished exams. I had missed the Bridge Creek and other assorted tornadoes on May 6th due to a GIS exam as the supercell marched through Central Oklahoma and was desperate to get out. As was par for the course, morning convection created a messy and complex forecast scenario. Initial thinking was that the eastern TX Panhandle might be in play, but the MCS shown above took it out almost immediately. After analyzing data, it became a fast moving OFB was moving south past the Red River and would be in a prime location to possibly produce a few tornadic supercells. A deep trough was digging into the Four Corners and began to eject as the day went on. Copious amounts of moisture pooling south of the OFB and along the dryline made the target easy. We set out with an initial starting point of Wichita Falls.

We arrived in Wichita Falls shortly after 20Z and looked over data. Convective initiation was already well under way further south past the I-20 corridor, well south of the advancing OFB. We struggled to make a decision due to uncertainties and a lack of solid analysis from certain persons and decided to stick it out further north and begin to drift towards Graham.

We first stopped north of Olney to assess as storms were rapidly going up along the dryline to our west. By this time, it had become apparent that the storm nearing Cisco would be producing in short order and we had no choice but to stick north as there was no way we were getting that far south in time.

We continued to drift south and eventually found ourselves north of Graham with a potential supercell beginning to take shape west of town. The storm initially looked good; with a large rounded base and solid updraft plume.

The storm had initially appeared healthy, but as its base drew closer, it became very apparent that it was struggling in the low levels. Ragged, unorganized rotation was evident, but never threatened to touch down. We had lucked out in finding a great spot to view it from, with hills on three sides except where the storm was coming from. Below was about the scariest it would look with a fakenado behind the cut.

We began to get forced back towards Graham as the storm continued ENE and began to note the unusually cold air pouring out of the storm. The outflow had to have been a full 25-30 degrees cooler than the ambient temperature. The features below exhibited almost no rotation as cold outflow continued to rush out of the storm.

After hustling back through Graham, we continued on US 380 east until we found a good overlook back towards Graham at some baseball fields southwest of Bryson. The storm did have an interesting look to it, but at best it was "kind of pretty". It's lowering was ragged and almost stationary to the naked eye. The storm began to rapidly elevate it's base.

Shortly after the last photo, we continued through Bryson before calling the chase and headed back to I-44. The storm completely collapsed and flattened out as we drove north, to the point where we ran into almost no precipitation on the way. After fuming for a few minutes in the backseat, it was eyes on the next round of setups coming exactly one week later.

Chase Stats
Miles Driven: 442.1
Cost: $40
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: None
Highest Winds: None