Saturday, May 19, 2012

5/19 - 11:30pm CDT - New Tour Group, Chase Tomorrow

This morning Tour 2's guests departed and this evening we just finished up orientation and dinner with the guests on Tour 3. This past week we went 2,402 miles (3,866 kilometers) across Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, and Kansas. Everybody had a great time as we traveled from the Mexican border near Big Bend National Park in Texas all the way to Denver even though storms may not have been available to chase every day.

A rash of tornadoes southwest of Wichita, Kansas near Harper has us a little down this evening since they happened during our day to switch up tour groups in Oklahoma City. Unfortunately there was damage reported with these tornadoes, which seemed to be all rope-like based on the photos being posted via social media. The rope structure of these makes sense given the low moisture in the area which means that cloud bases were high. For tomorrow the setup does not look as favorable for tornadoes given the still marginal amount of moisture in the region and weaker upper-level winds, but our sights are set on Western Oklahoma and the Panhandle region of Texas as the cold front that triggered today's madness continues southward.

The Storm Prediction Center has a general thunderstorm risk with a 5% severe probability for the area in question tomorrow. They're not real optimistic about severe storms based on the weak upper-level and surface winds, but we'll see how that develops tomorrow. The one thing we have going is that the direction of the winds at the surface (mostly easterly) will contrast well with the mostly westerly winds at 500 mb (18,000 ft) for some directional wind shear. Good storms may be hard to come by on Monday, but as the trough that I mentioned in the previous blog post begins to move in I think our prospects will improve during the week.

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