Monday, March 21, 2011

Overnight elevated convection / Tuesday

We had a line of pretty weak thunderstorms move through DeKalb around 10 PM last night. Well timed after my Illini fell in the NCAA Tournament. I expected a little bit more in the way of lightning, since the earlier round that evening was fairly well stacked. Unfortunately I didn't time that cluster of storms well and rolled into DeKalb only half an hour before they erupted just south of town. Such is life!

Anyway, infrequent as the lightning was, I did manage to capture a few strokes atop the parking garage on the NIU campus downtown. I will certainly be hitting this place up more in the future as there are quite a few interesting angles that would make for cool foregrounds in a lightning strike.

This is looking west as the line moved into DeKalb with a little roll cloud along the leading edge.

Moments before this, the moon (which is directly behind this storm) began poking through a little hole in the cumulus clouds adjacent to the storm. I began almost crying anxiety tears praying to the storm gods for a lightning strike as the moon was shining through. This flash came probably two exposures after the moon finally disappeared again. Of course! Hard to complain though... finally have the first lightning and storm shot of 2011. Here we go!

I'm a bit perplexed by Tuesday, but in just getting back to town I haven't done much more but take quick glances at the forecast guidance. The NAM seems to be somewhat of an outlier with a further south placement of the surface low and warm front across Iowa. It's easy to throw it out, but at the same time it seems that with these early season storm systems it's very common for the models to struggle with warm front positions often showing them surging northward allowing for a tornado outbreak, while in reality on the day of, the darn warm front doesn't budge an inch and your target area remains in the 40's with elevated hailstorms.

The SREF, GFS and ECMWF all have the surface low around Des Moines, IA at 7 PM on Tuesday evening with a warm front near the Quad Cities. If this ends up being the case, giving sufficient destabilization it does appear possible that a few tornadoes could occur in the southeast 1/4 of Iowa ahead of the surface low and along the warm front.

The 80 knot 500 mb jet streak will be punching into the tri-state intersection of IL/IA/MO at 7 PM with a 997 mb surface low over Des Moines according to the SPC SREF model. Instability doesn't seem to be too robust despite surface dew points near the 60F mark. I've done a lot of "well you only need such and such amount of instability with such a strong early season system" chasing and seen a whole lot of nothing so I'm not dying to go after this one.

I'm almost watching a sleeper target on the nose of the H5 shortwave along the warm front in western or central Illinois. This target is a lot closer, so I could sit and watch and decide last second rather than get up and leave early for a southern Iowa target that may or may not produce tornadoes. I like the potential for maybe an isolated tornado report somewhere near Peoria or Bloomington in central Illinois during the mid-afternoon.

I just don't see myself shooting into Iowa tomorrow, and if I did it wouldn't be very far into the state. Perhaps Iowa City? Eh, probably not.

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