Autumnal Storm Intercept Encore

November 4, 2007 by · Comments Off on Autumnal Storm Intercept Encore
Filed under: Summary 

Edmond to Cushing OK, 17 Oct 7

SHORT: Intercepted intermittently supercellular and quasilinear storms from Edmond area NE to near Cushing, remained out of hail. Stongly tilted future Tulsa storm observed to our SE-E upon return.


I had been working the last of a set of night shifts before traveling with the family to Colorado for an extended weekend. Typically, I rotate my sleep schedule forward during a set of such shifts, such that I’m awake most or all of the day after the last one. This day was no exception, so I was able to remain plugged into the severe storm threat from home during morning through early afternoon, in between a few errands.

As noted in various FCST discussions, some of the big concerns for afternoon were whether storms would form along the dryline after the strongest large scale ascent already had passed the area, and also, what mode such development would assume. By midafternoon, I was getting encouraged for the possibility of at least somewhat discrete development, despite the presence of a westerly wind component E of the dryline. A broken string of towers — a few of which glaciated — developed E of the border between OK and the Texas Panhandle (the same as observed from afield by Chuck R). I sat tight and waited for closer initiation that would move into richer low level moisture, and perhaps, some of the slightly more backed winds farther E (E if I-35).

Towers finally went up in an arc between Kingfisher, CHK and FSI, a few of which developed into small Cb’s. A subtle boundary from the earlier convection that moved SW-N of OKC had left a maximized corridor of low level vorticity aligned across the OKC area and NEward from there. The vort field was laid out quite tantalizingly perpendicular to, and just ahead of, a pronounced dryline bulge…and better still, slightly to the right of the mean wind vector! The towers forming near CHK would move quickly NE toward, then along or nearly along, the vorticity axis, which for those reasons became a screamingly obvious target to me. It was time to swing into intercept mode!

I picked up Ashton Robinson at NWC and Corey Mead at his house, and off we went up I-35, seeing a vehicle that contained Jeff Snyder and Howie along the way. By then a full-fledged, discrete storm with some visual signs of rotation aloft was moving NE across the OKC area, and we could see a rather long, flat base with intermittent and broad lowerings.

We rounded the corner at I-35 and I-44, barely beating the storm to that intersection while hearing reports of quarter size hail over Edmond. The core began to look somewhat elongated, and the real-time radar readout on Ashton’s Black-Berry device confirmed this. We zigzagged ahead of the storm from Wellston to Agra to Cushing, growing more than a little dismayed by its outflow dominant appearance (looking N from near Carney).

By the time we reached out final observation post, 1 NNW Cushing, the storm was hopelessly strung out with multiple cores behind an elongated gust front (looking W down that rocky red road and then looking NNE toward a slight bowing of the line segment). Some updraft action moving up from the SW provided brief intrigue until we got hit with cold outflow as it moved overhead.

We took in the final sights, sounds and smells of a storm in the Oklahoma countryside for this year, understanding that the impending winter likely would render this our final first-hand indulgence at the atmospheric sm

A Tale of Two Supercells and a Firehose

September 4, 2007 by · Comments Off on A Tale of Two Supercells and a Firehose
Filed under: Summary 

Oberlin and Ulysses-Hugoton, KS
19 Jun 7

SHORT: Separate tornado-warned Kansas supercells intercepted from inception NW of HLC and SW of GCK. Lightning, rain, wind, hail encountered day and night. Hard but rewarding finale to chase vacation.
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Widespread “Junkus Eruptus”

September 1, 2007 by · Comments Off on Widespread “Junkus Eruptus”
Filed under: Summary 

or, “Better to Look Down than Up

South-central South Dakota

17 Jun 2007

SHORT: High based multicells, brief supercells and cactus flowers seen. Too many storms, too much outflow.

LONG: Elke and I began the day at a very old, hole-in-the-wall motel in Newcastle WY, wishing we had that aeroplane with which to jet unimpeded to eastern ND. By the end of the day, we were glad for no such aircraft, except for the view it may have afforded of some of the early stage convective towers.

Our caravan chase partner for the day, Vince Miller, was fortunate to get a new alternator installed in his car on a Sunday, and was able to meet us at Wall Drug. [Yeah, it’s a cartoonishly gaudy tourist trap, but their bookstore has a nice selection of Great Plains, American Indian and western themed literature.]

Unfortunately, we didn’t see much convectively; although the verdant rolling grasslands of central SD and the eastern edge of the Badlands made a pleasing visual diversion from the mush going on above.

Whiile still in Wall, we noticed towers going up to the S and glaciating — with inflow air around Pine Ridge SD that was 102 deg F! Yuck. A deep and persistent Cb also could be seen to the WNW about 60 miles — behind the front in an area of NW surface winds. Gag.

Neither of these options were particularly promising meteorologically, so we roamed about the area between Wall-PHP-Kadoka for awhile, stopping occasionally to photograph cactus flowers, grasslands and the growing complex of storms that evolved from the hot-air convection. The ob at PIR, ahead of the front, held promise with winds often E of due S and dew points 66-68 deg F. Shallow Cu did form along the boundary near PHP, but never amounted to more. The anvil canopy from the Badlands multicells expanded by the millisecond, soon casting an enormous shadow over much of southern and central SD. This cooled the air mass measurably beneath (upper 80s to low 90s instead of mid-upper 90s), but also, probably squashed enough heating to render development along the front unlikely.

So with the afternoon growing elderly, we headed S from Kadoka, staying on the NE and E edge of the growing complex of heat-fired storms. Some updrafts may have weakly rotated anticyclonically on the N side of the cluster. We also saw a couple of short lived and very high based wall clouds form on the S side of their storms’ cores, but those quickly were undercut. Between Martin and Mission, we finally threw in the towel after:

    1. Having to double back a long way N out of a typically wretched South Dakotan rural roadwork zone (on SD 73), where the entire roadway turns to gravel for a few miles, then hard dirt for several more, then loose dirt for several more, then narrow, rutted and very soft dirt not fit for 2WD cars…

    2. Watching the entire scene from horizon to horizon devolve into an anvil canopy with occasional fuzzy cores and midlevel bases beneath.

Vince and we parted ways NW of Mission, and Elke and I headed to the Rosebud Casino buffet for dinner (not bad) then to VTN for lodging, in advance of our leisurely two-day trip home. These Indian casinos that are proliferating across parts of the Great Plains are good dinner options for chasers because their buffets or restaurants stay open late — no need to worry about settling for 5-hour old curly fries or cardboard-like, lukewarm pizza 10 minutes before closing time in some tired old town.

I’ve been meaning to chase with Vince for years, and finally did…too bad it wasn’t more productive weatherwise. I am glad, though, that his car got fixed and that he was able to get out and roam a small piece of the Great Plains with us today. We hope to hook up with Vince for more storm observing attempts in the future; his deep appreciation for the Great Plains, whether weather or not, is something to which we can relate quite well.

It was a rather drab next-to-last intercept of the 2007 storm intercept vacation for Elke and me, tempered in a pleasant way by the sight of the SD prairies and the fresh, earthy aroma of rain thereon.

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