Tuesday, May 31, 2011

5/31 - 12pm CDT - Minnesota? / Back to Nebraska

We're departing Detroit Lakes, Minnesota for Nebraska this morning. Many of you are probably asking how on earth we ended up in Minnesota last night. Here's the deal: The area of low pressure that we tried to stay up yesterday with kept moving northward and we had to follow it into the Fargo, North Dakota area. The cap (warm layer of inhibiting air) was broken with 4500 J/kg CAPE (!) for nearly four hours yesterday, but the low kept moving around. This meant that the east wind component needed for supercell formation wasn't staying in the same place either, so elements just weren't lining up in one spot for a long enough time to get anything going. Once we finally threw in the towel, we headed just a few miles east to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota for a nice evening in the town with a view of the lake.

Not all was lost though, because we did have a fast-moving squall line of storms move through Detroit Lakes while we were eating dinner. We had heavy rain and lightning where we were, but just a few miles west in Fargo, ND they sustained some wind damage due to a bowing segment in the line of storms.

Westerly flow aloft and southeasterly winds at the surface will return to Nebraska/South Dakota tomorrow as an area of low pressure moves into Colorado. These winds at the surface should usher in dew points that will break 65 degrees, so moisture should not be a problem as it returns to the Plains. Instability also looks good and it appears the cap will break tomorrow in the later afternoon hours. With all of this put into play, the Storm Prediction Center has issued a 15% Slight Risk area for severe weather in Nebraska, parts of South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. They even have a hatched area for an enhanced risk and their discussion calls for supercells with a few tornadoes possible. Looks like the chase is on again tomorrow!

Monday, May 30, 2011

5/30 - 10:15am CDT - Time for Some Northern Plains Action

We're off to Eastern South Dakota (Northeast Nebraska maybe?) to intercept storms that will form up that way. This has so far been a difficult forecasting day because the computer forecast models show an area of low pressure in Nebraska this morning, but each have a slightly different scenario on where it ends up. Some are even forming a secondary low to the north this afternoon. The general rule for today is to drive to where the east winds are and adjust our position as necessary because we simply can't trust any model output. This is one of those days where skill in analyzing surface conditions and cloud formation will be key.

Since moisture, instability, and shear will all be ample today combined with the east winds, wherever they set up, the Storm Prediction Center has issued a Moderate Risk for severe weather with a 10% tornado risk. Supercells that form today won't stay isolated for very long since directional shear will be parallel to the cold front pushing through according to the SPC. If this happens as forecast, we may only have a short window to chase a good storm with a tornado risk, so being on-time is very important. That's why we left North Platte, NE at 8am his morning. We should be in our target area early this afternoon.

As we pulled in a restaurant to eat breakfast this morning, we saw The Weather Channel's Tornado Hunt vehicles in the parking lot. We also saw quite a few other chasers pull in to restaurants and hotels in North Platte last night, so I'm sure that town was happy to see the quick uptick in business generated by all the chasers.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook today. I'll be posting frequent updates and photos from our chase, which should be a good one if the forecast plays out.

5/30 - 12am CDT - Upslope Storms Part Deux Fell Flat

Our second attempt in chasing upslope storms within a week fell flat today. Like last time, the cap stayed on too tight and a layer of clouds and fog overspread our target area just as we thought storms would initiate. While we waited this afternoon just east of Cheyenne, WY, we ran into Mike Bettes and the Weather Channel's Great Tornado Hunt crew.

The very fog that moved into our target area only grew thicker as we moved into Nebraska to try and limit our driving time needed for tomorrow. At it's thickest point, the fog dropped visibility to around 300 feet as we headed east on I-80. We literally could not see the signs on the side of the road until they were just to the right of the edge of our hood.

Tomorrow could be a pretty big day in the Dakotas and Northern Nebraska. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a Moderate Risk (45%) for portions of the area and expects a few significant tornadoes tomorrow afternoon before the storms merge into a linear line. I'll have an update tomorrow morning when we get on the road, which will be early so that we can get to our target on time.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

5/29 - 10:45am MDT - Upslope Storms, Part Deux

We're heading to Northeast Colorado/West Nebraska/Eastern Wyoming this morning for the second time in less than a week in search of upslope thunderstorms. Hopefully this run will be more successful than our attempt last week when the cap held on too tight and there were no storms (save for a weak one in West NE). The setup today is fairly classic for this area, with east winds already setting up across much of Northeast Colorado, West Nebraska, and Eastern Wyoming. These are the surface winds necessary to get the moist air to lift as the air moves west along the increasing elevation (scroll down to my 5/26 post to get a more detailed explanation).

Our major concern this morning has been the cloud shield, but it appears that it's clearing out pretty well to allow for the building of instability this afternoon. We're looking at a 5-6pm MDT timeframe when storms will fire across our target area as surface heating overcomes the cap (warm layer of inhibiting air aloft). A warm front pushing northward should help this process and increase dew points. Hopefully we'll get some supercells out of this today. With the east winds at the surface and southwest winds aloft, I'm inclined to think that we will as long as the cap doesn't hold too tight.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates while we're chasing!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

5/28 - 10:30am MDT - A New Week Starts in Denver

We're on the road to Denver this morning to meet with our guests on tour 5 this afternoon. Yesterday we finished up tour 4, which ran 2,369 miles through 6 states. Check out the image below for a map of the route we took last week through Tornado Alley:

Tomorrow we begin chasing again, and our target area could be Northeast Colorado or Eastern South Dakota. I'm inclined to think that we'll go or Northeastern Colorado if conditions look good in the morning because of the proximity to our base in Denver. On Monday we'll probably be in Nebraska for what looks to be a supercell event that will eventually turn into a line of storms in the evening. The Storm Prediction Center has already highlighted a Slight Risk area on their outlook for Monday, so we'll have to take a closer look at the forecast this evening and tomorrow.

Friday, May 27, 2011

5/27 - 10am MDT - Denver, Amarillo, Denver

The next 36 hours are going to be a whirlwind. We stayed in Denver last night after trying to chase an upslope storm setup in Eastern Colorado that didn't materialize thanks to cloud cover and possibly marginal southeast winds. We're now on our way to Amarillo to drop off our tour guests from tour 4 so they can leave on their flights tomorrow morning. We'll be leaving too... back to Denver again so that we can receive our new guests on tour 5 and begin another week of storm chasing. So, 8 hours to Amarillo today and 8 hours back to Denver tomorrow. We drove 414 miles yesterday in search of severe weather, and it's a shame that it didn't work out.

Next week's weather looks promising for chasing. Sunday will most likely be a day to setup for Monday's chase in the Eastern North Plains, but there's a chance something could fire in Nebraska while we're on our way. Monday already has a risk area outlined by the SPC in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and North Dakota. Tuesday will probably be a down day as a bit of a trough builds in. The rest of the week will most likely be a chase in the North Plains as well, but it's a bit too far away to make an accurate guess at where exactly we'll be. Looks like we may be lacking upper-level support in many areas after Tuesday, but we'll see how things shape up.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

5/26 - 11:45am MDT - Upslope Storms in Northeast Colorado

Good morning from I-70 westbound near Burlington, Colorado! We're on the hunt for upslope thunderstorms in Northeast Colorado (maybe Eastern Wyoming?) today since this appears to be the best chance for severe weather across the Plains. The reason we call these storms "upslope" is because they form when easterly or southeasterly winds blow into the higher elevations near the Rocky Mountains, causing air to lift as it does. This lift helps to create thunderstorms because the lifting air cools to its condensation point (a cloud is born) as it increases in elevation with the topography. Check out the graphic I made this morning to explain this concept to our tour guests during our briefing for a good visual:

It appears that shear will be quite good today, so rotating thunderstorms and supercells aren't out of the question. The tornado risk doesn't appear to be high today, but storms that have formed out this way over the past couple of weeks have had a history of overachieving by producing tornadoes and landspouts. Dew points will be in the upper 40's and 50's this afternoon across Eastern Colorado, which is good for storm development in this area. The elevation here compensates for the lack of moisture in the air, so you don't need the 60 degree + dew points that you need in the Central and Southern Plains. We already have dew points in the 40's this morning and the southeast upslope winds to carry in even more moisture, so we're well on our way:

The Storm Prediction Center has issued what's called a "See Text" for Northeast Colorado and Eastern Wyoming today. This means that the SPC doesn't feel this risk area merits a Slight Risk, but instead they want to direct your attention to the textual discussion below the graphic on the webpage for further information. This does not mean there won't be severe weather out here today. Since there will only be a couple isolated supercells affecting a small population, it's not worth it to issue a Slight Risk area. These supercells could put down tornadoes as I said before, but the risk to life and property is minimal due to the aforementioned low population out here. That's good news because we will have a great view of these storms today without the dangers and hinderance that populated areas pose to storm chasers. There is also a 2% tornado risk through extreme Northeast Colorado, Eastern Wyoming, and Western Nebraska, which is something new on the 1630z SPC outlook that wasn't included with the early morning one. Hopefully we'll find some good storms today!

Don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest chase updates this afternoon!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

5/25 - 11:30am CDT - Heading to Eastern Colorado / HIGH Risk East

After a very active day of chasing, we're heading to Eastern Colorado to prepare for tomorrow's risk of upslope storms in that area. Yesterday we drove 362 miles across Oklahoma while chasing and you can see a couple pictures and some video that I shot in the post below.

A HIGH Risk of severe weather has been issued by the SPC for West Tennesee, Western Kentucky, Southeast Missouri, Southern Illinois, Southwest Indiana, and Northwest Arkansas. Just a quick look at some data this morning reveals high dew points and winds backing to the south across the region. The satellite picture is also clear for most of Kentucky and Tennessee, so instability is building quite a bit already this morning. Cities like Jackson and Memphis in Tennessee, Paducah, Owensboro, and Louisville in Kentucky, Jonesboro, Arkansas, St. Louis, Missouri, and Evansville, Indiana need to be on high alert for a possible tornado threat this evening.

5/25 - 6am CDT - Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak Yesterday

Rain-wrapped tornado near Piedmont and El Reno, OK
A tornado outbreak unfolded as forecast in Oklahoma yesterday, but unfortunately many of the tornadoes were shrouded in rain as these storms were overly laden with moisture. This not only made them nearly impossible to see, but also very dangerous to chase. We were right in front of but couldn't see the tornado that destroyed parts of El Reno, OK and in fact chased that cell from it's formation in Eakly, OK earlier in the afternoon. I'd venture to say that we were less than two miles from that violent tornado, but all that we could see was a giant grey mess in the distance.

Supercell forming near Eakly, Oklahoma
Later on after a trip through Oklahoma City, we took shelter in Moore, OK because of hail and a tornado passing over I-35 just in front of us as we went southbound. What we didn't know was that the twister took a northward jog and caused damage just a few hundred yards in front of us. Scary, no? It wasn't a strong tornado, but it toppled some power lines and threw some small debris into the interstate roadway. After that tornado passed by we went to survey some damage in Moore and Newcastle since the storms were quickly evolving into a linear system and moving into the heavy vegetation east of Oklahoma City. Check out the video below for all the action from yesterday:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

5/24 - 2:20pm CDT - Storm Chasing Video Update

Storms are initiating where we're at in West Oklahoma and a big tornado outbreak appears to be imminent. (Sorry about the wind noise on the video below... it's gusty out here today!)

5/24 - 11:45am CDT - HIGH Risk in Oklahoma

Yet another tornado outbreak is on the way in the United States today and this time we're going to be smack-dab in the middle of it. A strong cut-off area of low pressure moving across the Plains this afternoon will provide the needed moisture-laden surface winds from the southeast and dry, pushing air from the southwest to create a sharp dry line that will be the focus for storm development this afternoon. Instability values will be off the charts as the cap (thunderstorm-inhibiting layer of warm air above the surface) breaks sometime during the middle of the afternoon. Temperatures aloft today will be slightly warmer than yesterday, so storms should stay isolated, especially south of the Kansas border. Locations near that border will most likely see a similar situation to yesterday, when tons of developing storms merged into an un-chaseable complex. There's a bit of a cloud shield situated vertically across the central part of the state this morning, but it should clear out fairly quick.

The Storm Prediction Center has issued a rare HIGH Risk for Oklahoma and Southern Kansas because of how potent this setup looks. The issuance of a HIGH Risk may not seem rare because of all the destructive outbreaks that have happened this year, but overall they don't issue one but once or twice at the most in a normal season. The risk includes a 45% tornado risk (!), something that has only been used for the devastating April 27th tornado outbreak in the South this year. Needless to say, expectations are high and a lot of folks are nervous around here. We're getting in position right now in Oklahoma and making adjustments as necessary based on conditions.

With such a huge outbreak expected, today is certainly the day that you need to follow me on Facebook and Twitter for my latest chase updates and photos if you haven't already.

5/24 - 6am CDT - Great Supercell Yesterday, HIGH Risk Today

We chased a supercell that formed near Ringwood, Oklahoma yesterday for a few minutes until it merged with other storms and became weaker. We moved to a new isolated cell near Greenfield, OK and it persisted for a while with a few rotating wall clouds. It may not have produced a tornado, but it certainly had the capability and nearly did when one of these wall clouds tightened up considerably. Check out the video below to see it all happen!

The panorama below gives you an idea of how close the wall cloud came to the ground as its rotation tightened:

We traveled 366 miles yesterday on our chase, which took us from Woodward to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma:

The Storm Prediction Center has issued a HIGH Risk for severe weather tomorrow in Oklahoma and Kansas. We stayed in Oklahoma City last night, so we're not far from the action. There's a 30% tornado risk with this outlook, which is the first HIGH Risk of the year for the Plains.

Here's a snippet of the SPC's discussion for today:
I'll have an update later this morning with the latest SPC severe weather outlook and a discussion on today's outbreak along with our target area.

Monday, May 23, 2011

5/23 - 11am CDT - Destruction in Joplin / Today's Chase in OK

The US just can't catch a break from horrendous tornado destruction this year. Last night a very powerful wedge tornado tore through the town on Joplin, Missouri leaving nearly 40% of the town destroyed and 89 dead as of this writing. Many are calling this tornado, which also ripped through a hospital in Joplin, an EF4 tornado. While no official designation will be given to this twister until the National Weather Service completes a survey of the damage, the look of the destruction on TV and online suggests an EF4-like tornado. The pictures coming in look just like Tuscaloosa, which was hit by a similar tornado on April 27th. We were not in Joplin last night because it was too far away from our starting location in Amarillo where we picked up our new tour guests. We also usually don't chase in that area because of the increased vegetation and topography issues. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

This morning we're in Oklahoma getting into position for what could be another active day. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a Moderate Risk for severe weather across much of Oklahoma and unfortunately the hard-hit Joplin area in Missouri. A 10% tornado risk accompanies this severe weather outlook, which you'll find below. Dew points in the upper 60's to near 70 will be more than enough for storm development this afternoon and east surface winds coupled with southwest winds aloft should enhance wind shear. The surface area of low pressure we're watching along the Oklahoma/Kansas border may be dropping south and west this afternoon, so we'll have to follow the good surface winds as they move.

Don't forget that you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates as we're chasing!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

5/22 - 3:15pm CDT - Another Week Begins!

We're heading toward Oklahoma today to be in position for tomorrow's chase. The risk area right now from the SPC for tomorrow has Central Oklahoma in the crosshairs (see below), but we're thinking Southwest Kansas might be a better bet based on the surface wind forecast alone. We'll see how it sets up tomorrow morning before we head out. Tuesday looks good too, and our target area will likely be just east of where it will be tomorrow.

Our journeys took us to Palo Duro Canyon just south of Amarillo this morning as we wanted to kill some time before heading into the "wilderness" of Northwest Oklahoma. Check out this panorama below that I took:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

5/21 - 3pm CDT - Back in Amarillo to Prepare for Next Week

We're in Amarillo today getting ready for another tour group to arrive. We washed and vacuumed the van (it was bad from all that Kansas dust), so we're ready for another week of storm chasing. We'll have two vehicles this week filled with excited storm chasing tour guests from all over the world, so it should be a good run.

SPC Severe Probability - Mon
Things are looking quite interesting next week, but we're meeting each risk of severe weather with tempered optimism after the problems that plagued our storms this week. Sunday looks to be a travel/sightseeing day because the risk of severe weather is too far east for us to travel from Amarillo and the terrain/vegetation in that part of the country presents even greater difficulty. Monday, on the other hand, looks pretty good. A surface low near the OK/TX panhandles should move in and deepen considerably throughout Monday, setting the stage for severe storms to erupt in West Oklahoma and Southwest Kansas. We'll likely play the Southwest Kansas component of this risk because of the east winds hitting the up-sloping geography with plenty of moisture in tow. Should be a decent tornado threat with this should it all pan out as the models indicate. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a 30% Slight Risk for severe weather in this area due to these factors.

SPC Severe Probability - Tues
Tuesday will be a very similar setup, just translated 150 miles east. The SPC has already outlined a risk area for Tuesday on their 4-8 day outlook, so they're confident this far out that something may happen. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday may not be great chase days due to a small bit of ridging building into the Plains, but there's a possibility that a trough may move in soon enough on Thursday to where we may be able to chase in the North Plains of Nebraska and South Dakota. I sense a long drive back to Amarillo on Friday if that happens. The models are indicating that the severe weather setup may shift to the North Plains just in time for us to switch to our base in Denver next weekend. Let's hope so!

As always, you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates on our chase. Storm Chasing Adventure Tours also has a new Facebook page that you can "Like" to receive updates and photos from the group.

Friday, May 20, 2011

5/20 - 11:20am CDT - Off to Western Oklahoma

After a not-as-good-as-we-thought-it-would-be day yesterday, we're off to Western Oklahoma in search of storms that will likely fire this afternoon behind an already ongoing line of storms in the central and eastern part of the state. Upper-level winds should be supportive of storms that could fire this afternoon, but we're still waiting for the atmosphere to recover behind the ongoing storms this morning. Short-range models indicate ample moisture with decent instability in the western part of the state. The dry line, which you can easily see in the dew point forecast image below, will provide a focus for storm formation as outflow boundaries from this morning's storms interact with it. This interaction will create lift to get storms going this afternoon. Temperatures aloft will still be a little cool for really good isolated storm development, but we'll take what we can get.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates this afternoon!

5/20 - 9:30am CDT - Bust Yesterday in Kansas

Cool temperatures aloft kept storms from being isolated in Kansas yesterday, resulting in a plethora of individual cells that quickly formed a line. Since each cell cut-off the other's inflow, none of these storms could get strong enough to produce a good tornado. There were a few brief tornadoes and funnels yesterday, but nothing worth writing home about. We were able to intercept a cell near Wilson, Kansas before it became completely linear yesterday and saw a rapidly rotating wall cloud with many finger-like funnels. Check out the video below to see it in action!

That storm had a history of producing a brief tornado, but the cell was moving too fast to intercept it at that point. After we left that storm, we traveled down to just north of Dodge City, KS, where an isolated supercell developed in the untapped warm air. We briefly saw what we thought to be a rope tornado from a few miles away, but it was too far to tell. This cell was spectacular for the few minutes that it stayed isolated yesterday and I was able to snap a gorgeous panorama of it as the sun went down:

I'll have an update from the road later on this morning... not quite sure if we'll chase in Oklahoma today or just head back to Amarillo so that our guests can prepare for their departure tomorrow.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

5/19 - 9:15am CDT - Let's Hope This One Works Out...

Today could be a big day in Tornado Alley. All the right ingredients seem to be coming together for quiet a severe weather event in Central Kansas this afternoon. Ample instability, upper-level winds from the southwest, surface east winds, and dew points possibly getting into the mid 60's this afternoon will fuel this event, which will likely produce the discrete or isolated supercell thunderstorms that we've been longing to chase all week. The fly in the ointment this morning is that there is a rather large cloud shield over the state that needs to move northeast before anything can happen. The sooner this happens, the better. Also, there's a dry slot aloft in the Oklahoma Panhandle that needs to make it here by this afternoon (that shouldn't be too much of an issue). If either of these things fail to happen, we could be stuck with a situation like yesterday where no storms form.

The Storm Prediction Center has issued a Slight Risk for Central Kansas this afternoon with a 10% hatched tornado risk. This is the biggest tornado risk that they've issued since I've been in Tornado Alley these two weeks so far. Here's an interesting tidbit from the SPC's discussion this morning:
Pretty strong wording, no? Let's hope it all pans out for our sake and for all the other chasers out there who are starving for some activity.


Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook for the latest photos and updates this afternoon!

5/19 - 12:45am CDT - Bust Today, Better Tomorrow?

Frustrating. There's no other way to put it. We had storms blowing up and developing before our eyes this afternoon in Oklahoma only to have a cirrus cloud shield develop in the upper levels of the atmosphere and squash any further development. Just about all the other conditions were right for this severe weather event, but the cloud shield made sure that nothing would form. A few linear storms along the warm front surging north this even have formed, but they should be out of Kansas pretty soon.

Speaking of Kansas, that's where all the action will likely be tomorrow. Upper level winds will be stronger tomorrow than today, but this time over Kansas. We're hoping that a dry slot aloft moving into the region later this evening (see right satellite image) will decrease the chances of an inhibiting cirrus shield forming tomorrow like it did today. Temperatures at 700mb will be less than optimal (need 10C or higher, but we may only have 8-9C tomorrow), so a shot of dry air will definitely be needed to keep clouds from forming in the cooler temperatures up there. Otherwise, I like the setup since winds and moisture will be wrapping around the northeast side of a low centered in the Texas/Oklahoma Panhandles. Easterly winds should stick around in Central Kansas beceause  The cap (warm layer of air aloft) should break sometime after 4pm or so tomorrow based on output from the NAM computer model.

With all of these factors, the Storm Prediction Center has issued a Slight Risk for severe storms tomorrow across Central Kansas with a 10% tornado risk tacked on. Could this be upgraded to a Moderate Risk? I think so if this dry slot aloft comes in and keeps the upper air clear tomorrow. We also have to be sure that no storms develop over Central Kansas tomorrow morning, which seems unlikely at this point. After two big severe weather busts in the past couple weeks, we're hoping tomorrow will be the charm!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook tomorrow for all the latest updates from our chase!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

5/18 - 9:30am CDT - We're Back to Chasing!

It's been a long start to the week since there haven't been any storms to chase here in the Great Plains. That changes today. We're on our way to Oklahoma in search of tornadoes this afternoon, and I think the potential is looking pretty good considering how things have been this week. Moisture is still going to be an issue, but surface dew points should recover somewhat today. That recovery will take time, so storms may not form until later in the afternoon. Easterly winds at the surface and southwesterly flow aloft at 500mb (18,000 ft) should create ample shear for today's setup, meaning any supercells that form will stay discrete and have the associated tornado risk with them. CAPE or instability shouldn't be a problem based on the modeling for this afternoon and the cap (warm updraft-inhibiting layer of air aloft) should break sometime after 3pm. Given these factors, the Storm Prediction Center has issued a Slight Risk for severe storms this afternoon for much of Southwest Kansas and Western Oklahoma with a 5% tornado risk for the Panhandle region through Southwest Oklahoma.

Be sure to follow my updates on Facebook and Twitter for the latest on our storm chasing adventures this afternoon!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

5/17 - 12:45am MDT - Back to Texas Tomorrow!

Surface dew points at 7pm CDT Wednesday from the 0z GFS
We'll be heading back to Central Texas tomorrow so that we can prepare for Wednesday's severe weather risk in that region. The latest 0z model runs (hence the late blog post) have come back with decent results, especially when it comes to the moisture return to the region that we'll need for the Wednesday through Friday's severe weather risks. The NAM and GFS models are both expecting dew points to be in the middle 60's in Central Texas on Wednesday afternoon, which is within the range needed for severe storm development. 500mb winds may not be the best, out of the west-southwest at around 30kt, but that should be enough upper-level support for this "entry-level" event for the week. With the upper wind support, surface heating, and high dew points, instability or CAPE will be in the 2000 J/kg, which again is good enough. These factors plus the presence of the dryline (boundary between moist air in the East US and dry air in the West US) should squeeze out a discrete supercell thunderstorm or two provided that the cap (inhibiting warm layer of air above the surface) doesn't stick around too late. The tornado risk isn't huge because of the higher bases these storms may have, but it's certainly not nonexistent.

We'll plan out an exact target area as we're driving later today and we'll refine it even more tomorrow morning. Thursday and Friday will have higher numbers for these variables across the board, so we can expect an enhanced storm chasing setup then. Should be an interesting mid to late week!

Don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest chase updates!

Monday, May 16, 2011

5/16 - 12:45pm MDT - Touring New Mexico

We just toured Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and are getting ready to hike around the Guadalupe Mountains near the Texas/New Mexico border. It looks like this will be our last day of "touristy" things as the risk for severe weather increases tomorrow. While it won't be a big risk tomorrow, some moisture will be streaming back into the Southern Plains and we may chase a few elevated thunderstorms that form in the evening. Of course the bigger risk is still Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, so we'll continue to monitor that. The return of moisture into the region may be better than previously thought, so this could be a good end to the week! I'll have a more detailed discussion on that setup tonight once some new computer model runs come in. Check out this panoramic photo I shot of the view from Carlsbad Caverns today: