Wednesday, April 27, 2016

4/26/2016 Thoughts

There was much anticipation from meteorologists, storm chasers, and weather enthusiasts for a “tornado outbreak” on the afternoon/evening of 26 April 2016. As of this posting, 7 tornadoes have been entered into the preliminary SPC tornado report database. Interestingly, the definition (depending on your opinion) of “tornado outbreak” has been met (6 or more tornadoes in one 24h period), yet some members of the meteorological community seem to be surprised by the lack of tornado frequency on Tuesday, seemingly largely to do the sensationalism and hype leading up to the event (probably more so than any other severe weather event that I can remember). The truth is, the atmosphere does not care about your anticipation, excitement, fear, or any feelings you may have.  The hype associated with 26 April was totally a social construct.  Yes, the synoptic scale weather pattern featured pattern recognition features that were associated with major events of the past. Mesoscale details the day of the event were pretty clear to me.  Deep-layer wind shear vectors were ominously parallel to most sources of lift in the boundary layer, and thus would promote more updraft/downdraft interaction, storm mergers, and an overall linear organization to the convection.  Another reminder of just how goldilocks the conditions must be to get tornadic supercells, and that MESOSCALE DETAILS matter.  No model is going to help you with this days/weeks in advance.  Take this as a reminder from someone on a 5 member team who is trying to push tornado activity level forecasts into the week 2 and week 3 realm!