Friday, April 1, 2011

Spring has arrived! Sort of...

Well, by all accounts we are exactly where I want to be. The Chicago Cubs are on TV, and I've got a potential chase day coming up! That said, the Cubs have already blown a lead late and are down big and the huge snow flakes falling outside in a rain/snow mix with the temperature hovering around 40F don't scream severe weather. But hey, I'm not about to complain. There isn't much that makes me happier than eyeballing a potential storm chase while watching the Cubs on WGN, win or lose. That pre-season anticipation looms huge on both sides. As always, on opening day I am forever hopeful that this year will be a big one on the North Side. I'm hopeful that the youth movement can make some noise for the Cubbies in 2011! On the weather side, on April 1st I'm always just certain that this will be my most successful year of documenting severe weather ever. Some years it works out that way (2008), and some years it just doesn't (2009)!

2010 was a year of mixed feelings. On paper, it was a year that I have to say is hard to complain about. Several decent tornado intercepts, and perhaps my biggest leaps photography wise even though I only came away with one tornado photograph. That has to change this year. I've already informed Tia that when she chases with me this spring and summer, she is ordered to force the video camera out of my hand and demand that I shoot still photos. There is more than one instance on video this year where Tia has a beautiful shot of the tornado, and rather than snap still photographs I grab the video camera from her and botch the video while not shooting any stills. No more!

I'm wary about getting too excited about the upcoming chase opportunity in Iowa on Sunday evening. After June 5 2010 I said I would not chase in Iowa until it produced a photogenic tornado. I sat out the op a week ago and low and behold a beautiful rope tornado was produced near my target in SW Iowa. I never really considered chasing that far on such a marginal day, but the state did finally produce and my ban has been lifted.

At 48-54 hours out I'm not going to talk about targets, but I'm eyeballing the triple point just ahead of the surface low which should be somewhere in SE Iowa, perhaps into northern Illinois if we're lucky and the more progressive SREF is correct. Ridiculous H7 temperatures for this time of year seem to be capping off every potential warm front day we see in this region during the early part of the season. It appears that the EML will work into the target region early in the day capping things off, but cooler H7 temperatures are advected in during the evening which would theoretically allow for thunderstorm development near the triple point. Now, whether the erosion of the cap is a fluke for this morning's run or not will remain to be seen. I'm hopeful, even though the day will likely place me in Iowa. Monday's potential has gone to crap, and chasing on a weekend would be easier anyway.

So, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't letting myself get a little bit too excited about this one. After such a long winter in which we're WELL above average in terms of cloudy days I really need to get away. Didn't I just come back home from Arizona?

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