Saturday, May 23, 2009

5/17-5/18 Friends in the Foothills

Monday & Tuesday provided "down" days for storm chasing in the great plains. Being so close to CO already, I decided to stay with friends from the 2007 NWC REU that now go to grad school at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. This was my first time to the foothills and I must say it was quite impressive. I was able to sample the local cuisine/beer before heading out for the NE panhandle on Wednesday.
Looking down to the CSU Atmospheric Research Campus
CSU Football Stadium
Yep, you guessed it...we went right past the sign!
Foothills/Man made lake/Horsetooth mt.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It's May right?

Thursday featured a down day with hope on Friday for a severe weather episode in south central KS before a cold front scours the Gulf of Mexico all the way to the Yucatan peninsula and kills any possibility of severe weather for the next 5 days. Instability was again high with weak wind shear (similar to every set-up this May). After looking at some data in Medicine Lodge, KS, I decided to drift northward to intercept a line of developing cells just north and east of Pratt. These storms were ugly to say the least and featured a shelf with very cold outflow. This week has again verified multiple times that it is much better to have a balance of instability and wind shear rather than just oodles of one...While following these cells all the way back to Braman, OK, my vehicle decided that it was going to make my evening interesting. An inner tie rod (part of the steering assembly) broke and sent me skidding off the road. After waiting for 2 hours for a tow truck, I was towed back to a garage in Wellington, KS. As if this wasn't enough, it was pouring down rain with cloud to ground lightning striking profusely from above. Needless to say, I was not a very happy camper last night! I did grab some photos from yesterday and the vehicle is now back in working order. Whew!
Typical view of the approaching shelfShelf passing overhead. Looking south towards Conway Springs, KS
Looking east out of the whales mouth

Thursday, May 14, 2009

5/13 Have you seen my soopercell?

Wednesday featured an interesting set-up for severe storms in west central OK as a cold front was rapidly plunging southeast into a very unstable airmass (see 18z OUN sounding below). We were certain the cap would break at some point and that severe storms would break out along the front, however, the tornado threat appeared low given the very crappy speed shear. Sure enough, storms initiated in close proximity to our target of Canton, OK and quickly became severe thunderstorm warned for large hail (some members of the V2 project ended up with shattered windshields). We stuck with the "tail end charlie" isolated storm and watched with frustration as it would never really get its act together. You could tell these blobs didn't have a chance to produce tornadoes as inflow into these storms was probably less than 10 mph. Argh! Anyway, we played with an interesting lowering shown below until the sun started to set where we then headed to Binger, OK to sample the hail core under a shell gas station awning. Nickels to quarters was the verdict...As expected, the tornado threat started to increase as better low level shear was introduced via the low-level jet. Too bad this is a nocturnal phenomena! I am convinced that if shear was a little better, this would of been an outstanding day...
18z OUN sounding. CAPE...check, Shear...hmm

Cu timelapse near Canton, OK
Unorganized lowering...Inflow was very crappy...
A few "anvil zits"
Rain wrapped TVS just south of our location. Whew!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

5/12 CIN sucks!

Yesterday featured a set-up of wasted ingredients with a stout cap in place over much of the great plains. Not much time to tell a long story today, but we intercepted a cell near Tuila, TX and dropped south to catch another cell near Plainview. Followed this cell all the way to just north of Childress, TX where we caught up with the VORTEX2 clan.
Morning target forecast
Long exposure just north of Childress, TX
Polarized view of a pretty cell north of Childress
"Crawler" lightning near Childress

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Morel Mania

Sunday's beautiful weather allowed for one of my favorite springtime hobbies, morel mushroom hunting! Unfortunately, we didn't find enough to make a huge meal, but we did find some of the larger morels that I have seen come out of the woods near our home. My dad and sister found over a dozen about a week prior to today, but we still wanted to check the same places due to the favorable morel weather that has existed this spring so far. Morel's like warm nights and ample rainfall (like many fungi). We've had no shortage of precipitation in Illinois this spring!
A few Morel's from Sunday's hunt

I will be leaving some time this week/end for storm chasing in the plains. This year, you will be able to track my storm chasing location in real time here. Stay tuned for updates!