Monday, June 30, 2008

6/30 - 12:30pm - Nice Day Ahead

After some mid morning sprinkles, we look pretty dry for the rest of the day. Our high will struggle to reach 80, especially with all the cloud cover. That's pretty good for the last day of June!

It looks like Independence Day will be a little cooler than previously thought. Some of the new model runs coming out suggest that the high will only top out in the low 80's. The National Weather Service says it will be 83. It will be nice temperature wise, but there is a chance for some storms. There is a possibility of severe weather, so I'll keep working on this as we get closer. Hopefully it turns out to be nothing.

Don't forget, WAVE-TV's first HD broadcast happens tonight at 5pm. To read more about WAVE's transition to HD, click here. It will be a treat to see Louisville's first High Definition weather forecast, almost comparable to Louisville's first color TV weather forecast (although I wasn't around for that one).

Sunday, June 29, 2008

6/29 - 10:45am - Should've Stuck With My Instinct, WAVE-TV HD!

Well, as we saw yesterday, clouds in the morning and storms the evening before really do put a damper on things. I mentioned that our severe threat was low earlier yesterday, especially in my video forecast. When the SPC put out a MODERATE Risk for us, I looked again and saw a possibility that things could get fired up. True, instability did increase a bit, but it was already too late. Mark that one down in the personal book of forecasting.

A big announcement (at least for techno-junkies) was made on John Belski's blog this morning:
WAVE 3 News goes HD starting tomorrow. WAVE will be the first station in Louisville to broadcast local news in high definition so check it out if you have an HDTV.

That's awesome. I had a hunch this might happen in Louisville this year since all the cities around us were going HD (Nashville, Indianapolis, Lexington). It is just amazing that video technology has progressed enough for local TV stations to broadcast in HD. It'll be interesting to see how it looks tomorrow, as far as graphics and how many cameras they have. I guess I know what I'll be watching tomorrow... Go WAVE!

We'll see a few scattered storms around here today, with highs only topping out in the low 80's. As I said in the video forecast yesterday, there will be a gradual increase in temperatures this week with some minor storm chances in there.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

6/28 - 7:20pm - Where Are the Storms?

It looks like we've missed out on the storms in front of the cold front for today. The storms we expected this afternoon formed well to our south and east, leaving us nice and dry. There is a batch of storms expected tonight well after midnight as the cold front passes through. This should be a squall line, so make sure that your garbage cans and other things are secured outside. It looks like my theory from this morning did hold up. The clouds inhibited instability and the storms this afternoon formed where there was little or no cloud cover, to our east and south.

6/28 - 1:30pm - MODERATE Risk Issued

Well... we just got put under a MODERATE risk for severe weather by the SPC:



They're saying that instability has strengthened even though our cloud cover is still a problem. It is clearing out a little though, so maybe the atmosphere will have just enough time to recover and build up some energy. In any case, the tornado threat is still very very low. We'll see some linear storms this afternoon, possibly with some bowing segments harboring damaging winds. We're now under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch until 9pm as well.

I'm sorry that the story is changing so much, but that's how it goes with severe weather. You really never know for sure until just hours (or even minutes) before.

6/28 - 12:30pm - New Video Forecast

Doesn't look like our severe weather will be too bad, but there will be some today. Cloud cover and storms from last night have made the lower and mid levels cooler and in turn that limits instability. I don't think we'll see anything beyond gusty winds, lightning, and maybe some small hail.

Friday, June 27, 2008

6/27 - 9:30pm - Here Comes a SQUALL LINE!

We're under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch as a nasty looking squall line is getting ready to bear down on us. It should be here within the hour, since it's moving at 55mph. I can't do any severe weather video streaming since I'm still getting things ready for tomorrow's event. The worst this line will do is generate some half inch hail and possibly some pretty gusty winds. There is a tornado warning out for Orange County, IN... There is some pretty strong rotation there, so folks need to take cover up there. We're OK it looks like on the tornado situation, but straight line winds will be a big problem when the storms arrive.

6/27 - 11am - Refining the Forecast for Saturday

Something I wanted to wait and check on when things got closer to Saturday was the possibility of some storms in the area today and tomorrow morning. It looks like this could be a deal-breaker for severe weather. We're going to get some storms this afternoon and maybe even tomorrow morning as well. Having storms this close to a severe weather event throws a wrench into the whole process because the atmosphere gets turned over, meaning the air at the surface is cooler than aloft. The question is, can the atmosphere recover and reverse this before tomorrow afternoon? I doubt it can do this completely.

Taking this into play, we're going to see multiple lines of storms come through tomorrow. Our primary threat is heavy rain and high wind. The SPC says there is a possibility for some super cells, but I'm not going to put all my cards in that pile. I don't think there will be quite enough shear to make a great deal of super cells, but a couple are certainly possible. Instability is about where it was in yesterday's blog post, so no big problems there (although it would be better if the CAPE was in the 3000 J/KG range, but the morning storms will not make that possible). I think we're just about out of the woods from a tornado threat due to some of these limitations, but one or two around the region are not out of the question if we do get a few super cells. Overall, this is just a normal early Summer severe weather event for Kentuckiana.

For today, we'll see a small chance for some afternoon thunderstorms and a high around 90. I sound like a broken record because the forecast has been like this for just about every day in the past week!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

6/26 - 7:30pm - Severe Update

That was quite a line of storms! I really didn't expect a line of storms to form like that, but instead just some scattered cells. We were under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for a little while, but I think our storm threat has pretty much died out for tonight. If anything else does happen, it will form behind this line where a couple little cells are trying to get their footing.

6/26 - 1pm - Saturday Still Looking Rocky

Take a look at the 3 day outlook from the SPC:



That's about what I thought. The area with the 30% outline is roughly where I saw instability the highest and the cap blowing off in the afternoon. It's pretty much the same story today, except the SREF model is now pushing CAPE values past 2000 J/KG, which means these storms will have a little more instability to work with. I just took a look at the NAM wind shear product (I didn't know one existed until today!) and it looks like we'll have a pretty decent dose of shear here as these storms are coming through. The best shear will be in place at around 5pm according to the NAM, which makes me a little concerned. 2000 J/KG CAPE + Late day shear = a mess.

Still uncertain about the actual storm structure and formation at this time, but it seems that we'll be in the zone of prime development in the mid to late afternoon. Usually we get storms that form in the Midwest and they roar through here in the early to mid evening, after they've done they're worst to our West. I'm a little more concerned this time since they will be forming here, possibly starting out as super cells before merging into a squall or MCS line of thunderstorms. If this does happen this way, then we do have a small tornado threat. I smell a MODERATE risk coming down the tubes in the next 36 hours. Guess I'm going to have to fire up the live severe streaming (don't forget, you can sign up for alert e-mails about when I'm streaming at ryanweather.org)!

I just glanced at the radar and saw a cell going up in SE Louisville where I live. Sure enough, there's a towering cloud and a rain shaft just a couple miles from my house as I went to check. We'll see more pop-up storm cells throughout the day, but the chance of any one place getting hit by one is pretty small. Tomorrow looks to be the same, with the same old hot and humid temperatures. Stay cool!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

6/25 - 2:30pm - Watch Out This Weekend

Here's the latest severe outlook from the SPC:



(Day 4 is Saturday)

I just got some numbers in on instability for Saturday's hyped-up severe weather outbreak. Even though they're preliminary at this point, I'm already a little concerned. CAPE values (measures instability) are forecast to get near the 2000 J/KG mark, which is pretty unstable. Anything over 1000-1500 J/KG is high enough to support a severe weather outbreak, just as long as all the other elements come into place. The cap (layer of warm air just above the surface that acts as a "pressure cooker" to build up energy) looks like it will be around here until after noon on Saturday before completely getting blown off. This will allow sunlight to heat the surface and energy to build throughout the morning. During the afternoon when the cap disappears, this energy will allow air to rapidly lift upward (instability) and condense at high altitudes. The condensation of this air is what will form our severe storms.

We'll also have to see what happens with shear and surface winds as well on Saturday. I think shear will be adequate for an outbreak, but winds are still a question at the surface. Those will pretty much determine if we'll see a line of storms or separate super cells.

My best guess is that we'll see our standard setup: a few super cells in front of a MCS (mesoscale convective system) line of storms. It just doesn't seem likely that we'd have a tornado mess since we're pushing into July. Stranger things have happened though. Nobody, not even the SPC, can really tell you exactly what's going to happen until just hours before the outbreak. It's simply too far out to tell right now.

Until the rabble-rousing on Saturday, we'll see a small daily chance of thunderstorms and temperatures holding around 90. South winds will bring up moist air and push our humidity up quite a bit, with dew points in the mid to upper 60's (uncomfortable).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

6/24 - 3:30pm - Here Comes a Stormy Weekend

Saturday looks to be pretty busy around here. The SPC has just put us in a severe zone on the 4-8 day outlook, which usually means there will be a pretty decent chance for severe weather. The GFS reveals a deep trough sliding across the Great Lakes on Saturday and Sunday, which should drag a cold front through here on Saturday. Other than that, details are pretty sketchy at this point and everything should be taken with a grain of salt until later this week.

Until this weekend, we should see a small daily chance for a thunderstorm. With the exception of today, temperatures will hover near the 90 degree mark for the rest of the week and into the weekend. We should top out in the mid 80's today with any rain staying to our west. Get out there and enjoy it!

Monday, June 23, 2008

6/23 - 3:30pm - Storm Threat Outta Here!

A few storm cells popped up this afternoon to our east, but nothing formed to our west or on top of us. It looks like the storm chance has subsided for the day with the formation to our east. It seems any cells trying to form west of the main area of cells disintegrate pretty quickly. This means we won't see any heat relief this afternoon either. Even though the dew point is only in the mid-50's right now, it sure feels hot when you factor in the sun.

Looks like we won't see any rain until Wednesday afternoon, with more possible on Thursday. We'll most likely see some rain this weekend, which may be the heaviest this week. While we won't be measuring rain in whole inches, it will at least perk up some of the plants and grass.

You can watch my storm chasing documentary in the previous blog post or in the video section of my website.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

6/22 - 9pm - Storm Chasing Video, Warming up!

It looks like we could touch 90 by later this week with more rain possible tomorrow and after Wednesday. The SPC has placed us just west of a SLIGHT risk for severe weather tomorrow, so storms like we saw today are certainly possible tomorrow. Speaking of which, the storms from today put down about a tenth of an inch of rain in the suburbs with a good helping of lightning. We were even under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for a short period of time as the storms went through.

I just finished editing all the video from my storm chasing trip, so here it is!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

6/21 - 9:30pm - New Orleans Was Hot!

Simply put, New Orleans was a steam bath. Afternoon highs only touched 90 degrees, but dew points soared into the lower 70's. Ouch! Besides that, the UV index was a bugger there, so I'm as red as a craw fish where my sunscreen wore out. As far as recovery from Hurricane Katrina goes, its still a mess in some of the outlying neighborhoods where the news networks showed houses up to their roofs in water. There is still a great deal of construction and demolition going on in these areas. As far as downtown goes, it's just about back to 100%. The French Quarter (where I stayed) was unscathed and the rest of downtown has been revitalized to pre-Katrina standards for the most part. Just goes to show that New Orleans is a strong-willed city!

What is surprising me is the low temperatures we're seeing here! We won't go above the upper 80's next week at all, and nighttime lows will hold from the lower 60's to around 70. A small daily chance of thunderstorms exists just about everyday next week, which is typical for this time of year. The cause of this unseasonably cool weather is a strong trough that's rooted in the Great Lakes area. This is channeling north winds down to us, and with that some really nice weather!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

6/17 - 7:30pm - New Forecast Video, 400th Post!

According to Blogger, this is my 400th post!

The rest of the week looks good, with a thundershower or rain chance on Wednesday. I'll be gone until Saturday in New Orleans. Have a good week!

Monday, June 16, 2008

6/16 - 9:30pm - Hot? Not Really!

Louisville feels like an air-conditioned paradise after sweating it out in Manchester, TN for the weekend at the Bonnaroo Music Festival. Temperatures there topped out in the low 90's and the humidity did not help at all. It did rain a bit on Friday, but that only made things feel better for about a day and a half. It was a great festival this year, with performances by B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, and a whole lot more.

Now, back to our weather back home. The remainder of the week will see highs only topping out in the low 80's with just a tiny chance of rain on Wednesday night. That's quite nice, considering it was blistering hot just a couple of days before I left last week. I might squeeze out a forecast video tomorrow, since I might be spending some time in New Orleans this week. Summer vacation rages on!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

6/11 - 3pm - Not Too Bad Today!

Temperatures right now are holding in the upper 80's and dew points are in the mid 40's. That's not so bad is it? 90's are expected tomorrow with 80's and some rain for Friday and Saturday. It won't feel too hot since the humidity will be lower than last week.

A question was raised about the relationship between humidity and dew points and I'd like to clear that up since we're heading into the time when this is pretty crucial for heat index. The dew point is the temperature where the air is completely saturated. For instance... If the temperature is 90 degrees and the dew point is 90 degrees, then the air is completely saturated... no more water can be added or else the water in the air will condense (that's why its the DEW point, the temperature where dew forms on the grass). This also means that the humidity is 100%, which does make the air feel heavy and sweat on your body cannot evaporate, thus making it feel hotter than it really is. The higher the humidity, the less sweat can evaporate from your skin into the surrounding air. If the temperature is 100 degrees, but the dew point is 80, then the humidity is at 80%. To give you an idea how dew point feels, 65-69 feels oppressive, but anything over 70 is just unbearable.

So... Humidity is just a ratio of temperature and dew point. Humidity influences heat index (how it really feels outside), and you can find charts relating heat index and humidity on the web. That's my weather sermon for today...

I'll be at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, TN this weekend, so this will be my last post until Monday or Tuesday. Stay cool!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

6/10 - 6pm - More Hot Weather!?

Tomorrow and Thursday will see highs top out in the lower 90's, something that we really don't want to see the return of. Today was just about perfect, the temperatures held out in the mid 80's and the humidity dropped dramatically from yesterday. We should drop to the upper 80's after Thursday and rain on Friday and Saturday is not out of the question.

Not much else going on here weather wise!

Monday, June 9, 2008

6/9 - 5pm - A Little Cool Down

91 degrees isn't my idea of a nice day. If you cut out some of the humidity, it probably wouldn't be so bad, but that's Kentucky in June for you. Tomorrow will be a welcome cool down day, with highs only reaching into the lower 80's and a little rain in the morning. Things will warm back up into the 90's by Wednesday, but it looks like we won't breach 92 this week. Next rain chance is on Friday.

Looks like we're going to be spared from any severe weather this week, but unfortunately some could make the flooding problems in Indiana go from bad to worse....

Still editing my storm chasing video!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

6/7 - 10:30pm - I'm Back!!!

Wow, did anyone notice that it's substantially hotter and muggier here than it was two weeks ago? It feels downright oppressive to someone who's been in 40% humidity with temps in the 80's and 90's for the last few weeks.

As promised, here's some of the panoramas I stitched together from the last couple of weeks (click on any of the images for a larger view):


Big "mothership" updraft base from Sunday


Grapefruit size hail-maker from Monday


A restaurant that was damaged by the Greensburg, KS tornado from last May

I'm still working on getting video edited, and it could take up to a week to get it all sorted out. I'll put out a nice compilation of all the video I took with hopefully some sort of coherent chronological story line. I won't be able to do a forecast video this weekend due to all the triage I'm performing on the photos and video. Next week won't have a forecast video either since I'm attending the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, TN. I have a weather website for that event at weatheroo.info.

Friday, June 6, 2008

6/6 - 1:10pm CDT - Back to Denver

Yesterday we were on our way to Yankton, SD when one of the lines of thunderstorms caught up with us and we stopped to watch it. It had a nicely defined gust front for such a weak storm:




Since it was such a wide storm, a picture just doesn't do justice:

video
(no sound due to bandwith constraints)

This morning we visited Ashfall State Historic Park just south of Yankton. It had some incredible fossils from that resulted from various wildlife being covered by over a foot of ash from an eruption of a supervolcano in Idaho many millions of years ago. There was a building that covered some of the best fossils that were dug up about 30 years ago:

So now we're on the road to Denver so that the guests from tour 5 can fly back home tomorrow. This is my day to fly home as well, so I'll be back in Louisville tomorrow evening. It's been a great week meeting everyone and seeing some awesome weather!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

6/5 - 10pm CDT - Big Bust...

We drove from Woodward, OK to Yankton, SD to get in the most prime super cell development area as recommended by the surface conditions and the SPC. All we saw was a small line of storms. Not one super cell showed up in this area. What happened to the HIGH risk!? Well, an area of low pressure that was forecast to stay in Kansas decided to move into Central Nebraska. That messed up the whole works. The stable flow of east winds shifted around quite a bit and that made multiple areas of storms fire and then combine. It was a storm chaser's nightmare on radar. There was a little bit of tornadic activity in Kansas and other areas south of us, but nothing near what the SPC had prognosticated. So we drove over 500 miles to see a little gust front and a few drips of rain. Ouch!

Tomorrow's risk shifts east, so we're going to head back to Denver so all of us can fly out Saturday. It's sad that we didn't see anything good today, but at least Sunday and Monday had some remarkable weather.

6/5 - 9:15am CDT - Yet Another HIGH RISK...

Before I go into today's mess, here's some pictures of the Twister Museum from yesterday:


The original Dorothy I probe from Twister (pretty good looking prop!).


We also visited the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma as well:



Now, today looks like the best day all week (two weeks maybe). The SPC has issued a HIGH risk for severe weather in a vast area in the Plains. We're headed to the Nebraska-Kansas border in search of the highest possibility of storms. The cells (when they form) will move very fast, so we'll have to really be on our toes when chasing them. They'll also form later in the day, say after 5pm or so. I can't be sure that we'll see a tornado, but I think we'll at least see some impressive super cells.

You can track our position later this afternoon at:
http://www.spotternetwork.org/google.php

Just look for the "stormchasing.com" vehicle icon on the map.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

6/4 - 11pm CDT - No Storms, Tomorrow Looks Better

After visiting the Twister Museum in Wakita, OK, we drifted around between the Kasas-Oklahoma border waiting for storm initiation to happen. We saw a dry line on radar and the moisture that it was pushing and quickly drove to that boundary. Nothing but a few puffy clouds came about; The cap (atmospheric pressure cooker lid) was simply too strong.

So we motored as fast as we could to Woodward, OK so we could get there before Mazzio's Pizza closed. Dinner was a pleasant reward for waiting so long without any storms. Some linear storms did form in Northern Kansas, but there was little chance of a tornado and they wouldn't be fun to chase due to all the rainy mess and wind-driven gust fronts.

There's quite a bit of hype surounding tomorrow's storm situation. Various sources like the Stormtrack.org forum and Norman, OK NWS office indicated that this outbreak tomorrow could be an earth-shaker. The SPC has a MODERATE risk out for most of the Plains tomorrow, but we'll take that with a grain of salt. It's difficult to forecast severe weather even the night before and even harder to pinpoint a general location of the storms. Hopefully we can get in some adrenaline-fueled chasing tomorrow...

6/4 - 11am CDT - NW Oklahoma

It's off to Northwest Oklahoma this morning as we look for super-heated air. Even though the SPC has a MODERATE risk in Kansas and Nebraska, it is pretty certain that temperatures in OK should create a great deal of convection and a thermal low, thus making storms. Any storm that forms down here will cut off resources to the storms in Kansas, so this looks like a pretty good target area.

In the mean time, we're going to visit the town where Twister was filmed, Wakita, OK. We already saw the lake where the dual tornadoes and flying cows happened in the movie yesterday. It was odd as we drove over Kaw Lake since that scene was so memorable. One of our drivers shouted over the radio, "We've got cows!"

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

6/3 - 9:30pm CDT - Not Much Action

We waited in Central Kansas for a little while until a boundary between warm, dry air from the west and a southeastward propelled boundary with moist air behind it became evident on radar. Thinking that the collision of these two boundaries would spark a line of storms or perhaps a super cell, we traveled to the east of the area of convergence of these boundaries. It fired off a storm alright... one that lasted for a total of 20 minutes and died a pitiful death. Nothing else manifested from this convergence.

A fast moving line of wind-driven storms moved toward us from Western Oklahoma as we moved east towards our hotel in Blackwell, OK. The sky turned black and frequent lightning ensued as we pulled into the parking lot and wind gusts really got going. Just as the last tour guests got in the building, the bulk of the storm came through. The rain was nearly horizontal!

I'm not too optimistic about tomorrow due to a lot of rain cooled air around the Plains, but it is still too early to tell. In any case, I think our target area will be somewhere in either Central or Eastern Nebraska. Maybe tomorrow will be the day...

6/3 - 11am CDT - In the Middle

We're not terribly sure where our target area is today. The computer models are showing a large low pressure system in Central Kansas that will tighten up and sink into Southwest Kansas by later this afternoon. That would mean our target area is somewhere in Southwest Kansas. There's also a school of thought that the SPC favors that would put our target area in Southeast Kansas. So we're making a compromise... we're going to South Kansas and waiting. Hopefully we'll figure out where to go later this afternoon.

It would be great if we could go 3 for 3 in the days that we've seen super cells. We've yet to see a tornado, but the cells we've seen are even better than seeing a tornado in some cases. You can't go into a trip like this with the mindset that you'll see a tornado. Just seeing some of the storm structure is worth the whole trip!

Monday, June 2, 2008

6/2 - 5:30pm MDT - Impressive Super Cell

Here are some pictures of the super cell that John Belski mentioned on his blog this afternoon:






We chased it from Eastern Colorado into Western Kansas where it died out due to interference from surrounding clouds and cooler air seeping into the surface levels, which killed any instability the atmosphere had. We got hit with pea sized hail during the beginning, but according to spotters, this cell had up to grapefruit sized hail in its later stages. Thank goodness we didn't get hit with that!

Since today's severe potential is pretty much wiped out, we're on our way to WaKeeney, KS. We'll settle in to our hotel there and watch tonight's lightning show that is expected as a cold front sags south into the area.

6/2 - 12:30pm MDT - Pictures From Yesterday, Eastern Colorado

As promised, here are the pictures from the super cell yesterday:






The DOW (Doppler on Wheels) with Discovery Channel crew not far behind.






The "mothership" cloud, which nearly dropped a tornado. Quite a bit of rotation going on in there! I shot a panorama of this and I'll post that when I get home.

So we're on our way to Eastern Colorado to make the best of what looks like a not-so-great severe weather day. There are too many clouds from morning storms over Kansas and Nebraska to really support a good outbreak, but we'll see what we can find.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

6/1 - 10pm MDT - What a Day!!!

Do I have some pictures for you! We followed a super cell from Scottsbluff, NE to Grant, NE that constantly maintained scary looking wall clouds and even a couple funnels. We were darn sure that it was going to drop a tornado, but it simply didn't execute. Since this cell was the only show in town due to its isolation, the TIV (Tornado Intercept Vehicle), the DOW (Doppler on Wheels), and the whole team from the hit Discovery Channel show Storm Chasers showed up. We passed them a couple times as a wall cloud really got going. Since this all happened at sunset, the photos are simply stunning. I'll try to upload as many as I can tomorrow morning. Some of these are National Geographic magazine quality shots... Time to get some sleep!

6/1 - 11am MDT - NE Colorado

We left Denver this morning after a pleasant breakfast at a Village Inn Restaurant. We're off to Northeast Colorado in search of some super cells that could form this afternoon. While the tornado threat is pretty marginal, we are hoping to at least see some good cloud structure and maybe lightning later on this evening. The SPC has a 5% risk of tornadoes for this neck of the woods, so maybe we'll get lucky with something isolated this afternoon.

In the meantime we'll find a Wal-Mart and stock up on supplies like we did on last week's tour.