As a part of my third HokieStorm Chase excursion last month, I had the incredible opportunity to witness the Dodge City cyclic supercell that dropped a highly disputed number of tornadoes. It was by far the most spectacular tornadic display from a single cell of my career as a meteorologist, so I thought I would look a bit deeper into the setup that made the storm possible.

Morning Environmental Analysis

SFC Analysis

A surface low was positioned along the OK/TX/CO/NM intersecting borders, expected to migrate north and east through the early afternoon hours on May 24th. Its associated stationary frontal boundary weaved its way NE through eastern CO and western KS, while a dryline extended SW through the TX panhandle. Two overnight MCS clusters continued east through central Oklahoma and Kansas, providing a slow moving outflow boundary along the KS/OK state line just after daybreak. Taking a look at the Dodge City, 1330z Visible May 24, 2016KS 12z sounding, most of the ingredients for an explosive atmosphere were already in place. Surface CAPE > 2000 J/kg; MUCAPE  > 3000 J/kg; 0-6km shear ~ 30kts (expected to increase); Mid-level lapse rates 8-9*C/KM; and the beginning stages of backing winds at the surface really set the stage. A bit of daytime heating + the influence of a lifting mechanism and the atmosphere would be loaded.

 

Overall, the SPC was generally in agreement for their morning update. An explosive day, outlooking two main areas with an “Enhanced Risk” of severe weather. The first near the KS/NE/CO border where backing winds around the Low would be the greatest…and a second along the dryline bulge around the KS/OK border.

As expected, the daily surge East of the late spring dryline was aided by the lows migration NE through the early afternoon hours. Initiation began in the early afternoon hours, with the first storms of the day located mainly in the north outlooked area. Around 3pm, a cell popped up near Scott City Kansas, and remained discrete for quite sometime producing the first sustained supercell (and tor warnings) of the day in central KS. Stretching to the south, the cumulus field began building along the stationary front and outflow boundary in southern KS.

In the meantime, the environmental recovery struggles in north-central OK became evident, with CAPE and shear values much lower than most models thought they would be.

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5:33pm Appleton, KS.

By 4 – 4:30pm CDT, the first sustained cumulus towers began building SW of Dodge City, finally breaking the weak CAP. Initially, the storms were multicell messes, with cell mergers the theme of the hour, but it didn’t take long for things to get organized. The first Tornado warning on the cell that became the “cell of the day” was issued at (TIME), when the storm was still multicellular in nature. The warning was issued due to a “spotter confirmed funnel cloud.” While I can’t be certain that a cell merger or boundary interaction didn’t produce said funnel, I believe this report was a bit pre-mature by an overanxious spotter (which happens more than people realize). Either way, I certainly don’t fault the National Weather Service DDC for issuing when they did. If nothing else, it increased lead-time for the dangerous situation that was about to unfold.

Above illustrates the progression through the initial supercell stage of the storm until the first tornado touchdown. First image depicts our view at 5:37pm CDT where the last two were taken right at 6pm CDT as the first Tornado touched down. 6 o’clock magic anyone?

 

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4 Panel KDDC Radar Loop (5:57pm – (TIME))             Z, BV, CC, ZDR

 

The radar loop above shows the incredible evolution of this storm, beginning just prior to the first Tornado touchdown through the majority of the event. A few interesting things of note:

  1. HSC2016_-13The initial tornado rotational signature formed in an area of little to no reflectivity values. This likely occurred because of a few reasons, but the most likely dealing with the positioning of the WSR-88D system itself. By attempting to look through a massive hail/rain core into main circulation center,  data can be obscured or lost, especially at the lower levels. It also could have to do with the initial lack of a full condensation funnel at the surface in the early stages of the first tornado.
  2. HSC2016_-9The evolution of the velocity couplets in this storm was incredible. Anywhere from 3 – 5 (or more) separate couplets can be seen, including an incredible split as the first occlusion process takes place. I also found the couplet “wobble” that took place just as the storm passed west of Dodge City very interesting. It was almost as if the storm was attempting to occlude for a second time, which could have caused the new wall cloud to sputter further east over the city. Certainly an appropriate name for the city.
  3. HSC2016_-24A debris signature showed up numerous times in the Z, CC, and ZDR data. It is most evident when the first tornado’s condensation funnel continued to grow to near “wedge tornado” size to the SW of Dodge City; and again as it impacted the western portions of the city during its second cycle.

 

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One of the most interesting parts of the event for me, was the warning progression throughout the event. On one storm, we were able to witness every “stage” of the new Impact Based Tornado Warning process.

Base Tor Warning -> Confirmed Tor Warning -> Considerable Tor Warning -> Tor Emergency

Having the opportunity to witness the event on the ground, comparing it to radar data, and seeing the impact based tags issued by NWS DDC; it really shows the benefits of the new impact based warning methodology which is becoming widely implemented and accepted across the NWS.

Dodge City Tor NWS Damage SurveyScreen Shot 2016-06-14 at 11.28.26 AM

The results of the Dodge City damage assessment is presented above. The office concluded that three different tracks resulted from this storm.

1.)  The initial touchdown which continued onto becoming an EF-3 wedge tornado that occluded just to the SW of Dodge City and ENE of Ensign, KS. Stayed pretty rural.

2.) A brief (EF-1) rope that formed and tracked through a few fields SW of Dodge City (Likely the one pictured above acting as the “Twin.”

3.) A third (EF-2) that formed during the occlusion process, and from our point of view, gained multi-vortex qualities as it began to impact the western suburbs of Dodge City.

4.) A fourth (EF-3) touchdown occurred just north of Dodge City, again, likely prior to the dissipation of the third Tornado described above.

Somehow, injuries remained minimal during this event and no recorded deaths resulted from this series of tornadoes. Luckily, the cyclic supercell heading right toward Dodge City somehow just skirted it’s western suburbs, but not without putting on one heck of a show for seemed like thousands of storm spotters/chasers. Some impressive video of the event from multiple sources is provided below.

Taylor Kanost (WFXR Roanoke, VA) Timelapse

My third stint with the HokieStorm Chasers came to a close just over a week ago, and what an incredible experience it turned out to be. With any of these storm chasing excursions, four factors can really make or break your trip: The crew, the setup, the forecasting, and the results. In this case, they all came together to produce one heck of a trip to remember.

The Crew (A+ Rating)

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HokieStorm 2016 Trip 1 gathers for the pre-trip meeting on Day 1

The crew is one of the most important ingredients of a successful group storm chase. When your stuck in a 6 passenger minivan for 6,200+ miles, or toughing it out in a run-down motel for two weeks, you really get to know every aspect of a person. The good, the bad, and the habits per say. You also begin to form a bond of trust, as you rely on them to keep you awake during the early hours after a 10 hour chase, to navigate you through the deer and construction metropolis of what is downtown ST. Louis, Missouri at 1am, or around a massive supercell with only dirt roads available. Overall, this group was spectacular, and consisted of 5 experienced leaders, and 13 undergraduate Meteorology students ranging from Freshman to Juniors. Their knowledge base was high, their willingness to participate and learn was higher, and most of all, they were just pleasant to be around. An amazing trip with a good setup and results can certainly be spoiled by a rotten crew; but in my opinion, this crew was top notch.

 

The Setup (B+)

While it is certainly possible to have a successful trip with a poor synoptic setup, it certainly can help when the atmosphere reloads and gives you a show while your out in the Great Plains. In our case, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the setup as we began to prep for departure. A sweeping cold front was expected to stabilize the southern plains on Day 2, with a very slow recovery effort lasting nearly a week prior to our departing date. Luckily for us, the atmospheric recovery time was very short-lived, and even the “down days” produced some spectacular views.

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 11.03.09 AM

It also doesn’t hurt to have a SPC outlook like what is shown above. Once the atmosphere did reload, it certainly didn’t disappoint. Playing the dryline bulges isn’t easy, but when “bust days” consisted of multiple severe thunderstorms, it’s certainly nothing to feel to bad about. TOR watches were abundant Sat – Wed, and Severe Thunderstorm Warnings lost a bit of their excitement by the end of the trip due to the pure numbers (who even knew that was possible?).  With an A+ crew and a B+ setup, we knew that we were all but guaranteed at least a C performance!

The Forecasting (B+)

IMG_1115The biggest draw of a storm chasing experience for me isn’t the pictures, the people, or data gathering. The largest benefit is the experience gained forecasting. The ability to make a forecast in the field, make hard (and costly) decisions on that forecast, and to view the results first hand is an incredible opportunity. This gives you an environment to learn from your mistakes and successes, while also giving you the opportunity to share and learn the tools, tricks, and general experiences to/from others.

SFC AnalysisIn our case, the student forecasting was incredible. Each active chase day, we found ourselves in the correct area synoptically. In fact, we found ourselves nestled into a Tornado Watch Box prior to issuance 5 days in a row before ending the trip. Not surprisingly, things weren’t perfect when it came to finer scale forecasting (where will the first storm go up…etc), however, we did land on 2 of the 3 best storms of the trip. In a normal year, catching even 1 of the 3 best storms would have been a rare and major success. The only storm we missed out on was the long track Kansas tornado on May 25th, 0ur last chase day, which occurred in an area we had originally focused on before diving south into a healthier looking cumulus field (a move that worked spectacularly the day before). One thing to work on in the future is having an open mind when it comes to severe weather parameters. Relying on one model/parameter/tool can really hinder our abilities.

 

The Results (A+)

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This is by far the most difficult category of the four, mainly due to the fact that it is out of our control as chasers. We can have a near perfect crew, forecast, and setup and yet still bust if the atmosphere doesn’t produce. On our trip, this certainly wasn’t the case. We were lucky enough to get a taste of the atmospheric “works” while on our excursion. Between a HP supercell and its forming shelf-cloud on D2, a high elevation plateau multicell storm chase in NM with HSC2016_-8brilliant views on D4, to multiple Tornadoes and beautiful Supercell structure on D6 + D9; it is hard to deny how well the atmosphere treated us.

One of the more influential portions of the trip for me was watching the progression of the Tornado Warnings on the Dodge City Supercell from: A Base Tornado Warning -> Confirmed Tornado base warning -> Considerable Tag -> Tornado Emergency. Being able to watch the storm live while receiving updates via warnings issued really showed a great example of the new warning stages and process.

Whether you consider it “luck,” “skill,” or simply a mixture of the two, we certainly left few to no regrets out in the Plains this year. By far, this trip goes down by far as one of my favorite and most successful trips. The crew was top notch, the setup above average, and the results were incredible. I learned so much along the way, and hope that some of my experience and knowledge helped the students as well. Overall, using my baseless rating scale, I’d rank the trip an “A,” only leaving room for improvement out of desperate hope that the future can bring an experience equal or even slightly better than this one.

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Trip Statistics 

Mileage Traveled: 6, 250+ Miles

State Count: 13 (VA, TN, AR, TX, NM, OK, CO, KS, MO, IL, IN, KY, WV)

Tornadoes

  • Separate Funnels: 16 – 20 
  • Separate Tornadoes (couplet based):  4 – 6

Highest Elevation: 8, 250 FT ASL


Other Blog Posts

Day 1     Day 2     Day 3     Day 4     Day 5     Day 6     Day 7     Day 8     Day 9     Day 10

 

…The Final Day…

All good adventures must come to an end, and unfortunately, this one ended on what can only be considered the closest thing to a bust on the trip. With a Friday arrival back in Blacksburg necessary, Wednesday arrived with the understanding of being our final chase day…and would need to be very impressive to live up to half of the hype that yesterday brought.

After starting the day off with a brief tour of the damage just West of Dodge City, we began to blast East into better dynamics and into an area not as worked-over by yesterday’s fading MCS. Things seemed to be going according to plan as of the mid-day SPC update, with an Enhanced Risk in place and multiple MD’s issued. With an initial target area of Salina, KS. we re-routed to the South while enroute based on current meso-analysis and a healthy cumulus field based on visible satellite. A small cell popped up just West of Wichita, KS. In the early evening, so we positioned ourselves just to its South waiting on it to explode…

…unfortunately and explosion never to occur. The cell continued to never mature further than the multi-cell stage and remained LP (which was sort of cool). It was most-likely limited by the warm 700mb temperatures in place, with little in the way of lift to assist in eroding the CAP this far from the dryline bulge. Overall, it served as an important lesson to learn. The same indications that worked so well for us the day before, busted the day after, which shows exactly how difficult storm chasing tends to be.

With a deadline calling our name back in Blacksburg, we decided to head toward home, only to be teased by a very impressive supercell located just out of reach over our initial target area. A supercell that produced a long-lived (90 minute) tornado.

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Enroute, we made the executive decision to power through all the way to Blacksburg, eliminating a lodging stop. After a long overnight trip, we arrived and said our goodbyes by mid-afternoon Thursday. A trip to remember for sure.
Expect a recap blog post over the next few days, once I am able to get my thoughts and pictures processed a bit better.

 

 

Waking up this morning in a Hokie overnight favorite: Guymon, OK (The Hot Breakfast is back!). Pulling in overnight, the plan was the head North toward the KS/NE/CO border this morning, but looking at morning surface obs, that plan very well may be caput.

SFC AnalysisThe sfc low originally progged to be sitting in east-central CO to far Western KS has shifted south, and is now expected to propagate along the OK/TX/KS borders. An outflow boundary from an overnight MCS is also expected to push south to the OK/KS border this morning before stalling, adding another boundary for storms to fire and could enhance rotation ability of supercells that do fire. To reflect this, the SPC has outlooked areas directly east of Guymon in the 10% Tor risk. Our original target area to the north is still outlooked for an Enhanced Risk of storms, however, it is dependent on Denver lee-side troughing, which can tend to be delayed. The area east and south also could potentially be pretty “worked over” from last night MCS, which is concerning.

 

 

1330z Visible May 24, 2016Taking a look at the visible/IR satellite this AM. An outflow boundary from an overnight MCS in north-central KS is visible from the OK panhandle/KS border stretching ENE through southern KS. The progression of this boundary actually seems a bit further than the SPC originally expected, which certainly could come into play a bit later today. Otherwise, heating is underway for about half of the eastern TX Panhandle + western OK.

Overall, I expect today to turn out in a similar manner to yesterday. Dryline is main forcing mechanism, with boundaries available for earlier initiation and potentially a mechanism for enhanced spinning at the surface. I expect to see discrete cells at first with potential clusters to lines right around dark. Best time for TORs will be in that late evening on the discrete supercells that should still be around when the LLJ kicks in. Bust potential should be low today. Biggest concern in my mind at this point is chaser convergence.


A ton to process from this chase day. It may be a few days until this is complete, but I’ll work on it.

After initially blasting East from Guymon with an Oklahoma/Texas panhandle target area, we decided to dive a bit more to the North for a few reasons. First, the cumulus field looked much healthier in portions of western Kansas. Especially in areas being influenced by the slow migration of the surface low. Shear values were also much better in central/west Kansas, and surprisingly non-existant over our initial target area.  Granted, CO/WY/KS border was out of play for the day, but areas a bit further SE near Dodge City was obtainable.

IMG_1041A Tor watch was issued as we continued NW in Kansas. After a brief lunch/restroom stop, we decided to shoot North in central Kansas, in an attempt to give a bit of distance between us and the dryline/sfc low bulge. We quickly backtracked once a healthy looking tower shot up over our lunch stop area, and decided to setup shop just to the southeast of Dodge City, KS…where we saw this monster mature through every stage of a thunderstorm lifecycle:

 

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After all was said and done, an estimated 15 – 18 separate tornadoes touched down with this cyclic supercell, including most of the types of Tornadoes: rope, stove pipe, cone, wedge, multi-vortex, satellites…etc. We even got a twin (and potentially triplet) tornadoes on the ground. The radar GIF below demonstrates just how quickly the occlusion process worked on this supercell, with a new couplet forming and strenghtening rapidly well before the old couplet(s) weakened.

IMG_1115

Another interesting scenario to witness was the propagation of the Tornado Warnings issued by Dodge City. The first base Tornado Warning was issued well before the cell became a supercell after a spotter reported a funnel cloud. We weren’t in the best of position at that point, but without the presence of a wall cloud at that stage, I find that report to be highly suspicious. Either way, the first Tor warning gave plenty of time for those in Dodge City to prepare for what would become a very dangerous series of Tornadoes. Base tornado warnings continued to be issued as the first several tornadoes touched down. A considerable tag was added to the warning as the funnel grew to a small wedge tornado, with a Tor Emergency being issued as the storm encroached upon Dodge City. Luckily, the strongest tornadoes dissipated just to the South of the city, however, large hail (5″+ diameter measured at one site) and brief spin-ups did cause minor structural damage. Overall, an EF-3 rating was given to the larger wedge tornado that we witnessed SSW of Dodge City. An EF-2 rating was given to the storm once the original tornado lifted, and the multi-vortex tornado (or entire meso-cyclone) touched down causing damage along the western edge of of the city. According to the survey, the storm seems to have put down an additional Tornado North of the city (EF-3 rated). At that time, I believe we were blasting East to escape large hail approaching quickly from the South.


NWS Dodge City Report

Quite a few things benefited us greatly on this storm. First of all, the storm was very strong, slow moving, and continued on a northerly track. This worked out well with the N/S/E/W gridded road system in that portion of the state. Thus,  even though chaser convergence was exponentially high, we were able to get a good viewing point while also maintaining our safety and plenty of escape routes. The storm also remained dominant for quite some time, allowing us plenty of views prior to us bailing as another severe warned cell finally came screaming up from the south.

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Overall, a tremendous once-in-a-lifetime experience to see a storm like this. All of the ingredients (forecasting, navigation, storm mode, structure, road condition/availability…etc.) came together to form an experience like no other.

Just wanted to give a shoutout to NWS Dodge City for their life-saving work on this storm and the multiple others in the CWA during this event.

Dodge City Multi-Vortex Tornado Timelapse Zoomed

Dodge City Multi-Vortex Tornado Timelapse


Other Blogs/Stories

Taylor Kanost (WFXR) Timelapse

Taylor Kanost (WFXR) News Story

Overnight convection really switched things up on us this morning. Waking up in Dumas, Texas, which at one point was the center of the Enhanced Risk of Severe Thunderstorms, now finds itself on the western boundary of a Marginal Risk on the North side of an outflow boundary with a West wind. So what happened in the last 12 hours?

14z SatelliteVisible Satellite imagery this AM show the remnants of an MCS continuing east through the Red River Valley region of TX/OK. A few boundaries are clearly evident on the loop, the first being an outflow feature stretching nearly W to E across the TX Panhandle just south of Lubbock turning north into far W OK. A few other minor boundaries are also in play, and will likely be a focus point for initial convection later today due differential heating and a steep moisture ridge.

 

12Z Surface Analysis12Z Surface Observations show multiple surface lows beginning to form along the TX/NM/OK borders. An associated cold front extends SW through east-central NM lagging behind a dry line feature surging E currently oriented along and west of the TX/NM border. SFC winds are generally south to southeasterly  just east of the dry line with the exception of the eastern red river valley currently being influenced by the remnants of an MCS. Other outflow boundaries left by this system also have some micro scale effects on the screen winds and moisture transport this AM.

Overall, looking at a target location further South than Dumas. Maybe the Childress, TX area? A key to our success will be to catch a cell fairly early after initiation and continue NE with it. Canyon country could certainly have a say in our ability to do so. Will be re-evaluating along the way. Moderate bust potential today. A look at your AM soundings.


….11:30 am update….

New Day 1 outlook extends the risk area a bit further north and east. Not much change for us based on this update. Still thinking chasing the western red river area along TX/OK border will be our best play. Currently socked in as we blast SE toward Childress. Maneuverability due to poor road conditions (from flooding) and general availability still a concern today in western OK and eastern TX panhandle.


IMG_0987Originally, we headed toward Childress, TX where we met up withIMG_0982 our new “entourage,” Seth N3MRA (a former HokieStorm chaser + King George HS Alumni) and the WFXR Meteorologist Taylor Kanost, both of which will be joining us for our next few legs of the trip. With chaser convergence strong, and the potential for dryline storms popping a bit better to the south and west, we dove south toward Peducah, TX where en-route the first TOR Watch was issued. About half-waydown TX-83, we stopped to re-evaluate just as a cell began to fire along a triple point between the dryline surge and outflow boundaries a bit north and east of Childress. We decided to backtrack to the cell, and arrived just as it was warned.

IMG_0995The cell had a slow death over the next hour or so, and just as we were about to give up and head north, reflectivity began showing up about 25-30 miles west. As a last ditch effort, we decided to backtrack a bit and go for it. As we arrived, the cell began to split, and both actually began spinning in an anti-cyclonic motion. After ingesting a few younger cells, the southern cell became dominant and switched to a cyclonic motion and immediately began organizing. For a five-ten minute period, the rotation really began to tighten, and a few appendages did seem to tighten into funnel type clouds. A Tor warning was issued, but no official tornado was witnessed by us. Reports of a touchdown was heard along I-40 just NE of our position.

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IMG_1022Overall, a good chase day! It was a bit slow to get going, but luckily we made just enough “good decisions” to end up on the only Tornado producing storm in TX during the daylight hours. While we didn’t see the tornado itself, we did end up coming across its damage path which included a tractor trailer blown into the median of I-40 a good bit east of Amarillo. Chasers actually got footage of the incident, and I was able to contact NWS Amarillo on their behalf to get the report submission process going. No report on the SPC storm reports as of this morning, which likely just indicates a delayed report and/or potentially deeming the incident to be caused by straight-line winds. After viewing the video (bad lightning to watch it), it could have gone either way, however, timing-wise  and witness accounts makes me lean toward a weak and brief Tornado Touchdown. A tornado warning was issued less than 30 seconds after the incident.

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State Count: 7 (VA, TN, AR, TX, NM, OK, CO, KS)

Super-8s: 7

Tornadoes: 1


Other Blogs

VT Giving Chase- Trevor White

 

 

 

Not much time to look over things this morning, as the crew recovers from a 2am arrival in Dumas, TX and an early departure  SW toward the dryline. Either way, we are likely eyeing a forecasted bulge in the line around the Lubbock area, with possibly a laundry stop to re-asses somewhere in the western TX panhandle. Will update en-route.

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Right now, we are blasting South from Dumas heading potentially just west of I-27 corridor between Amarillo and Lubbock. Keeping an eye on the potential dryline bulge setting up just east of Lubbock TX where CAPE will be high, 0-6 km shear could approach 40 at times, and anvil level winds 50+ are possible. CAPPING isn’t as stout as it was the past few days. Overall, bust potential low, but it will be important to catch these cells early before they become HP. Chance of a Tor intercept is higher in my mind then yesterday. More to come later.

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11:30am Update


Our area has been updated to an “Enhanced Risk” of severe thunderstorms this afternoon and evening. 2nd enhanced risk chase of the Trip. Mainly due to a 30% hatched area for large hail. No change in our plan so far.

….Update 1:45pm….

img_0968 MD out just North of our current location. Finally getting a few breaks in the low-to-mid level Cumulus field. Surface CAPE still in place. Could be a busy afternoon. Not biting North quite yet, will reanalyze over lunch in Levellend, TX.

 

 

 


….3pm Update….

After a bit of a stint West, got headed off by the rapidly moving bulge in the dryline. Reposition East of Lubbock. Second straight day chasing in a TOR Watch.

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Tough Day 7 for Hokiestorm, but certainly wouldn’t call it a bust. Most models were in agreement that we were in a good spot…just North of a bulge in the dryline with 5K + CAPE, supercell friendly bulk shear, and pretty incredible anvil level winds. Unfortunately, a few ingredient played against us today:

1. Road availability: Not the best where we chased, and even worse where we needed to be.

2. Dryline budge ended up about 50 miles South and a bit East of where models were expecting it, thus, storms started quickly along TX/NM border and lined out quickly. Delayed our viewing time by at least two hours as we fought HP visibility.

3. Other boundaries that fired out East a bit earlier seem to rob quite a bit of the lowest level flow. When chasing, we were lucky to get a simple breeze to flow from any direction. Never a good sign when looking for Tor storm potential.

While we weren’t lucky enough to get a Tornado producing supercell, we did manage to catch multiple severe warned cells, including a tightening wall cloud that was sitting incredibly low to the ground. Thus, put this chase down in the books as “unfortunately unlucky” yet not a true “bust” day.

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Back in Dumas for the night, in good position for what looks to be another active day tomorrow.

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State Count: 8 (VA, TN, AR, TX, NM, OK, CO,KS)

Super-8s: 5

Tornadoes: 1

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Other Blogs

VT Giving Chase- Trevor White

HokieStorm Blog

….Pre-Chase Update….                                                               Updated 10 am May 21st, 2016

Tough decision ahead today. Starting the day in Dumas, TX. Right smack dab in the middle of the SPC outlooked “Slight Risk.” The question quickly becomes….North to KS and the shear? or South to TX with the CAPE. Logistically, looking at D2 and our laundry needs, a South trip to the TX dryline would win the battle, but we may be passing up a brief Tornado or two in KS.

SREF MLCAPE 00z ForecastCape values are looking promising throughout our target area today. It should be efficient to bust through the pretty strong CAP, which actually should aid in keeping the cell pops until best heating and could potentially work in our favor in keeping things discrete for an hour or two.

 

SREF 0-6km 00z Forecast

Shear wise, the better low level to deep layer shear is North, however, it is not “great” when it comes to supercell formation to begin with.  The effective shear is a bit better north. While I certainly think a tornado or two are possible in KS…I like the idea of a dryline chase with the better road map in TX.

 

Either way, a better chances of supercells and Tornadoes approach Sun – Tue, and being South of our starting location today (Dumas, TX) will be needed. Interesting to see how things play out in our pre-chase meeting. A quick overview of the 12z soundings:

After a brief debate with the crew, we reverted our original decision to head South in TX panhandle for dryline play. Now heading North to better shear profiles. Long haul ahead for us today.


….Garden City Update….         3pm update

MD out for the area. Likely heading north toward Scott City before blasting West to the CU field. 1-2 hours from forecasted initiation.

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….Update….                                                                                                               10 am May 22nd, 2016

Photo Credit: Alex Thornton

Tornado North of Leoti, KS (via Alex Thornton)

Overall, a fantastic chase day that culminated in our first tornado intercept of the trip. We were in good position well ahead of initiation, and were able to stick with the storm from beginning to end. The storm became TOR warned rather early on in its supercellular stage, and did drop down a tornado just as we started moving to better our point of view. A few were able to snag a quick peak of the funnel as it hit the ground, but most (including me behind the wheel of probe 2) were focused on turning around and heading a bit further north and west toward the storm.

Tornado touchdown was only visible from our location for about 5 seconds or so, with potentially a brief 2nd touchdown soon to follow the first. From there, we opted to head west on the unpaved gridded road network to better position ourselves to view the meso from the back right quadrant of the storm. Once we arrived, the view for the next hour + was spectacular.

A long trip back South into the OK/TX Panhandle with another night at a Super-8! Up bright and early to do it all again tomorrow.

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Other Blogs + Videos

VT Giving Chase- Trevor White

Quincy Vagell Timelapse

Beth Allan Timelapse