Chasing Next Week

19 Apr

Spring semester ends on Monday, giving me a week off. I’ve been watching long-range models for quite some time now for the possibility of chasing during this break. The GFS has been rather consistent with a southern plains trough in the Wed/Thur April 23/24 time range. The ECMWF has been in relative agreement as well.

Right now I’m keeping an eye on Wed the 23rd as the better of the two days. However, it all depends on the amount of Gulf moisture return. Yesterday’s model runs depicted significantly less moisture, which would limit the severe potential. The 00z and 06z GFS have brought some moisture back, with dewpoints reaching the low 60s in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Dewpoint GFS_3_2014041906_F114

The dilemma I may end up with is where along this dryline to target, but specifics will have to be worked out as the day becomes closer. I typically like to stay near the surface low, as this is where there is better forcing for ascent, and quite often greater helicity. In this case, looking at 500mb winds would definitely point to the northern target as the better area.

500mb winds GFS_3_2014041906_F114_WSPD_500_MB

This is showing 50-55 kts in Kansas, versus closer to 40 kts along the OK/TX panhandle border. These are the two main charts I look at in the long-range, as I want to know if moisture will be available, and if mid to upper level support will be present. The moisture plot also shows me the location of the surface low, but that usually changes somewhat over the last few days before the event. By Sunday morning, this will be in range of the NAM, which usually gives a better idea of the details.

Thursday looks less enticing, as the main trough shoots northeast, causing the dryline to slant from SW to NE. This would result in a more linear storm mode, as the storm motion will be about parallel to the boundary. However, at least on the GFS, there is still a N-S boundary down in N. TX, and a secondary surface low with some decent mid-level winds. Tornado chances will likely be low, but perhaps this could be a fun hail and storm structure chase.

If things end up like that, I’ll be doing a lot of driving over this break! My plan is to stay just west of Nashville Monday night, drive to Tulsa, OK for Tuesday night to visit my buddy Anthony, and then up to central Kansas on Wednesday, north Texas Thursday, and finally make my way home to Indy on Friday. Hopefully I’ll have a few more tornadoes and supercells to show for it! Stay tuned!


Posted by on April 19, 2014 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “Chasing Next Week

  1. David Byers

    April 27, 2014 at 4:23 am

    Hi Mr. Hunt, I appreciate your updates and education on your storm chasing. I have time on my hands and have a hunger to see a tornado, or hook up with someone who has the knowledge to efficiently try and find some. I live in Houston but also stay near Madisonville out in the country. Just tonight the weatherman said a chance for tornadoes in Bryan through Huntsville and further North. That’s right in my path. Anyway, my question to you is, (other than all the safety precautions of course), what would you recommend for someone green like me just trying to get my foot in the door and do some fast learning on how to find a tornado or tornadoes? If you know someone who needs a cameraman who has a good head on his shoulders, I can be that person for you, or someone else you may know who needs help. I can keep my cool and not panic. I can follow instructions and learn fast and do what I’m told and help pitch in. Financially as well. Anyway, I’m gonna be doing some south Texas hustling today hoping to see one. Let me know if I can be of assistance in any way. I would love the opportunity. I know the season is fairly short. When I’m out looking tomorrow, later today actually, is there a site you recommend I stay with on my tablet as I hunt, that might help lead me in the right directions to view a tornado? Thanks again for your input and safe storm chasing, Dave.

    • Matt Hunt

      April 29, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Hi Dave. My suggestion would be to attend a local spotter training class. Contact your local National Weather Service office to find out when these are offered. You can also find some spotter booklets online. Your first step is to make sure you know what you’re looking at on the storm. From there, the best site to learn forecasting is probably I still have a lot to learn about forecasting, but knowing the basic ingredients needed for severe storm development will get you started. One way I learned was to read the SPC outlooks and mesoscale discussions, and then go look up anything that I didn’t understand. This is how I learned how to find shortwave troughs and outflow boundaries. Finally, get out there and chase. Keep a safe distance when you start. You’ll learn a lot from every chase, whether it’s successful or you bust. Good luck and stay safe!


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