Friday, May 28, 2010

New South Dakota Time Lapse

Sort of old news... or an improvement on it. I finally returned to DeKalb, if only for a brief moment. Anyway, I uploaded and rendered a NEW time lapse of the Bowdle, South Dakota tornadic supercell with MUCH higher resolution. That first video was fine, but the quality was killing me. Perhaps it was just me.

Tia and I are heading back to Wisconsin in about an hour, where some of my family will be this time. We're planning to throw a tent out there and "roughing it" for the weekend. The weather should be perfect. Happy memorial day, all four of my readers!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Time lapse of pulsing convection

Ran outside of town in Champaign County and time lapsed some convection pulsing along an outflow boundary in a highly unstable but weakly sheared environment. Nothing overly exciting, but something to do for an evening.

Went to an old favorite spot of mine on the west edge of Philo, Illinois with an excellent view to the west!

Tia decided to come along for all the "fun" too!

Time lapse from Saturday in South Dakota

Put up a time lapse showing the maturation and tornadogenesis of the supercell that produced the Bowdle, South Dakota EF4 tornado on Saturday, May 22. My actual video is very crisp and in focus, so I'm not sure why my laptop is being finnicky and rendering it very soft and almost out of focus appearing. I nearly flipped out when I watched it on my computer thinking my camera was out of focus the entire day but upon review it's somewhere between my camera and computer where the video captured is getting screwy. Ah well, want crisp clean video... buy the DVD!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Today's Recap.


Tia and I had a decent chase, but it should have been epic. Started the day perfectly, ended the opposite. I positioned exactly where I wanted to early on, and was able to do a time lapse for nearly 20 minutes as the supercell matured and moved towards me. As I hoped, tornadogenesis occurred directly down the road from where I sat so I was able to catch the entire sequence without moving the camera. Was very near that first stove pipe, really unintentionally as I said, I never really had to move.

That's about as good as it got. Was slammed with RFD for a while there on 47. When I went to head north, the road was blocked. I thought I was doing the smart thing and turned around and flew south to the next paved highway, whatever that was. About 20 minutes later I was back ahead of the storm and in perfect position! Except that I was too late. Missed the whole 1000 tornadoes on the ground at the same time event.

Then, to make matters worse, after dodging about 35 previous, I finally nailed a pheasant with the front end of my car. He completely smashed in my grill, which is now gone. Had to pry him out in Roscoe with the sirens sounding where I apparently missed another brief visible touchdown.

I was more or less done at that point. I kept ahead of the storm shooting structure for a while but once I hit Aberdeen I just hit the road for Sioux Falls where I'll be spending the night.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Adjusting north...

Stopped now in Sioux Falls, SD eating lunch. Just a quick update as I'll be heading north shortly on I-29, and then west a bit on likely Hwy 212 towards Faulkton, SW of Aberdeen. Like a big time supercell or two in that area by 6 PM.

Saturday Potential

Well, I'm committing to eastern South Dakota this morning. Will be leaving the lake house here in Wisconsin in about a half hour, still targeting the Mitchell, SD area. That may be a bit too far east, but should be a decent starting point. Should be a very easy drive across southern Minnesota down Interstate 90 which should have me in a decent position shortly after the lunch hour which should be more than adequate given today's cap potential.

Complex of thunderstorms is currently working over the central part of South Dakota and areas to the north. Current hope is that this could potentially lay an outflow boundary along the I-90 corridor which intersecting the dryline towards afternoon could provide a focus for supercell development. Towards evening, surface convergence should increase along the dryline as winds back out of the southeast ahead of the dryline, and begin to veer out of the southwest behind it. Surface convergence will likely be greater to the north, which is why I've chosen South Dakota as opposed to a Nebraska target further south. Assistance of a shortwave at H5 on the order of 50-60 knot should finally be able to get isolated severe thunderstorms to develop by evening in my target area. Looking at some very large hail, and then the potential for a couple tornadoes, a couple of which could be fairly substantial.

I better quit dragging my feet I guess. Sometimes these drives end up being a little longer than I anticipate, and it wouldn't be the first time I relaxed on a cap day thinking stuff would not go until late evening only to be still driving toward tornado warned storms by mid-afternoon while I'm still two hours away. Planning to stop around Sioux Falls for a data check and lunch, but Mitchell seems good.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Great North

Update is due since I've not written since the May 10th chase account, and even that was brief. Looking at heading north for a chase or two or three this weekend. Current thinking is South Dakota on Saturday, and beyond that I don't have a clue. The models are not coming into agreement at all, so it's really tough to formulate a plan which is proving quite frustrating.

Tia and I will likely leave Champaign, IL tomorrow early afternoon. I originally planned on just heading back to DeKalb where I could head west on Interstate 80 bright and early on Saturday, but now am thinking about driving us up to the lake cabin in southern Wisconsin tomorrow afternoon to play even further north. I'm starting to buy into the GFS' persistence, that there should be rotating storms in eastern South Dakota, and possible even into North Dakota and eventually Minnesota on Saturday evening. Preliminary target at this time frame 60 hours out would be Mitchell, SD. The Wisconsin trip tomorrow makes that a leisurely stroll across southern Minnesota down Interstate 90. The cabin is in a desolate location, but not all that far from 90, so it's a pretty nice launch pad for the chase Saturday morning.

Beyond that, things start getting really sketchy. There are two possible targets at this point, both of which have pretty strong negatives. The first that I noticed was in northern Kansas. Looks like a cold front/dryline triple point scenario where the models are fairly certain on something happening around the Hayes, Kansas area. That was my first play, but would have been a very long drive from South Dakota. I've made that trip before (actually North Dakota to Kansas), but would like to avoid doing so unless it screams significant tornadoes. That's when I noticed eastern Minnesota. This has the makings of being over crappy terrain at this point near Minneapolis, and potentially into western Wisconsin. However, I do see the potential for a few tornadoes, and now that I'm on the whole drive to Wisconsin and chase Saturday in South Dakota game plan, back tracking to Minnesota for a Sunday chase sounds pretty damn appetizing. At this point things look good setup wise, but the location needs work. I'll try and work my magic and see if we can't slow this thing down to where I can buy a chase in southern Minnesota on Sunday evening.

Monday, I had hoped to chase as well but more local, as I need to be back Tuesday evening. However, the obvious target at 120 hours out is well back into the western Dakotas. There is no way I could chase that area Monday and make it back to Illinois on Tuesday. So, perhaps if all works out right now I'll be in Wisconsin for an evening at the lake tomorrow, chasing beautiful supercells in beautiful terrain in South Dakota on Saturday, chasing in the forest on Sunday which would allow me to avoid getting another place to stay as I could just drive back to the lake house in Wisconsin that night after the chase. Then, if nothing peaks my interest in the midwest since the Dakotas are just not manageable, we can spend the last day on the lake. It should be getting pretty warm, so possible we can buy a little sunshine and make a relaxing day of it.

I wish things looked a little more certain, but I want to squeeze in at least one multi-day trip before the jet stream shuts down for a little while and I start to get a little more busy. I'll be taking a summer course in mid-June, and working a bit more frequently so while the chase will be on, these 3-4 day vacations will be harder to work out.

I'm excited to drag Tia along on this excursion. She's not very well traveled, so it's all new to her! Her trip to Kansas with me a couple years back was her first time west of Missouri. She's no storm chasing newbie, but she's only been along to the promised land once, I believe. Hopefully South Dakota can treat her well and throw us a nice sculpted supercell on Saturday evening. How about it?

I'll update more as things become more certain, but for now plan on the two of us hitting the road for the lake in Wisconsin tomorrow afternoon. Then, should things still look good, a jog down Interstate 90 shall follow.

EDIT: Stupid 18z GFS... it really loves that Kansas target on Saturday and then it's nothing but the Dakota's on Monday.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May 10th Recap

Just a very brief account on yesterday as I'm still very tired, and now focused on tornado potential for tomorrow in western Illinois.

Successfully documented two tornadoes yesterday near Wakita, Oklahoma (yes, the Twister town). The second, larger tornado proved to be the first time I have ever been "nervous" while chasing a tornado. The thing spun up incredibly fast and almost directly on top of us. Not really sure how much I like the idea of a potentially significant tornado ground scrubbing my highway rapidly in my direction.

Anyway, tried to intercept supercells further to the south but were screwed with terrain and road issues. Only way to catch the Pawhuksa, OK supercell was to stop and let it pass over I-35 (which proved smart once we entered the area it had hit and saw the ground covered with baseball sized hail). We were unable to get back ahead of it however. Played with a couple other tornado warned storms but they were all dealing with too much convection and worked over air at that point and did not produce.

A couple photos, and video:

As for tomorrow, I'm still feeling lazy but I like the odds of a regional tornado event in northeast Missouri into western/southwestern Illinois. Likely somewhere between Kirksville, MO to St. Louis, IL to Springfield, IL. I will likely target somewhere around Quincy. I like the odds of not having to cross into Missouri but want to give myself the time and option if it is needed. Honestly, I doubt I even make it as far as Quincy, however. Jacksonville, IL seems like a decent starting point. If only I could get so lucky. Anyway, it will become more clear tomorrow morning when it is evident where the warm front and boundaries are located. I've got two targets in mind, the first of which being the Jacksonville IL target. However, there are some indications that I will in fact have to cross into Missouri. I apologize for these sporadic thoughts, if anyone is even reading at this point. I'm literally making my chase forecast as I write this out as I rolled into town this morning at 9 am, and just woke up from a 8 hour nap about an hour ago. This is the first I've given tomorrow a good look since Sunday evening.

I'll update tomorrow morning, but somewhere between that Kirksville, MO - St. Louis, MO - Springfield, IL triangle will see a few tornado reports tomorrow afternoon and evening.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Monday update

Not really an update I guess since this is the first I've mentioned it, but I will be joining the other chasers for the epic tornado event in southern Kansas and Oklahoma on Monday the 10th. Not really feeling very chatty right now, so I won't hash over the details right now. However, I'll throw out a three city triangle right now for the sake of verification later. I'm certainly not alone in my forecast target at this point. Liking a triangle of Wichita KS to Pratt KS to Enid OK. Colin Davis and myself will be making the trip together and are planning to leave his place in Canton late tomorrow night, likely around 10 PM. We hope to get into the Wichita early in the morning to do breakfast and check things out. I don't think we'll be far away from where we'd need to be anyway at this point. There are minor differences yet between the NAM and GFS as far as placement of the dryline. I'm going with somewhat of a compromise, with the GFS placement of the dryline, and the NAM placement of the warm front, which would lead to that triangle I listed above being a hot spot for potential tornadoes in the evening.

I'll try to update as things get closer and such. Just figured an update was needed as I've had these plans for some time, but had yet to update the blog.