Friday, May 6, 2011

5/6 - 4:30pm - The Packing Has Begun!

My suitcase is getting packed and tomorrow is the day! I'm leaving for Amarillo, TX tomorrow morning from Louisville on what should be a perfect day for travel across much of the US. The Kentucky Derby is tomorrow afternoon, so the airport experience here in Louisville may be a little more festive than usual! As usual, we'll have orientation tomorrow evening in Amarillo for the new storm chasing tour guests who will be with us next week. Speaking of next week, things are looking rather active...

The post from yesterday about the overall pattern setup still applies for next week, but we're starting to get a few more details today about what will happen. Sunday could be an active day across North Texas and West Oklahoma as this trough begins digging into the Plains and the dryline pushes east, but there are concerns about capping (a warm layer of air above the surface that inhibits thunderstorm development). The SPC (Storm Prediction Center) thinks that this capping shouldn't be a big deal due to moisture and hot temperatures near the surface, but we'll see. Here's their day 3 (Sunday) severe weather outlook with a Slight Risk in West Oklahoma and Texas near Wichita Falls:

Capping is always one of those things that you have to wait until the morning of the chase to figure out because it is so finicky on the computer models. Even then, a slight change in conditions can keep the capping in place and limit storm development to nothing. This could be even more of an issue on Monday. The good news is that a partially capped environment can limit the growth of numerous small supercell storms so that only a few stronger ones are able to push through the cap and develop discreetly. These strong supercells are the ones we want to chase since they have the greatest potential of producing tornadoes.

The SPC has highlighted risk areas for Tuesday and Wednesday in the Plains as well, but we'll get to the specifics on those days once we take care of the dryline severe weather setup on Sunday and possibly Monday:

I'll post here tomorrow as soon as I get to our hotel in Amarillo to give you an update! Remember that you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest storm chasing updates from the road!

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