Saturday, June 24, 2017

Bonus forecast for the trip, posted July 24

Here's an extra forecast for the trip that I did up this morning.

I’ll say that the week looks interesting, and we should be able to catch some really good storms.
It’s interesting that there’s a bit of model spread on the evolution at the beginning of the week and the end, but not so much in the middle.  In other words, Monday and Friday are the big question marks.
Some models have less moisture returning into Kansas on Monday and some have more, so the character of the storms will be affected greatly.  If the moisture is slower to return, then perhaps southern KS is more in play or even into CO.  So that makes it an even better idea to make it to Kearney tomorrow.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are all good to great days, depending on the model you choose, and the locations vary but the most highly variable day is Tuesday, which could be good anywhere from Nebraska to Manitoba.  A broad moderate westerly upper flow will overspread the entire region, so it’ll be a bit of a needle-in-a-haystack thing, and I think playing the edge of the cap will be best.

Wednesday should be central to east KS or NE, with a warm front and perhaps dryline bulge play.  On that, the models are in good agreement.

Thursday, same thing, except maybe more instability and a stronger dryline.

Friday is where it gets highly questionable.  The 06Z GFS smashes a cold front waaay south now, to the point that nothing would be a good play.  The 00Z and 12Z runs of the GFS don’t do that but take that day’s play a little east, potentially into the jungles of central MO and potentially into the flats of IA.  The ECMWF portrays another warm front play in the central plains, with tons of instability and pretty good flow over KS.  The GDPS actually agrees with the ECMWF, too.  So we will see; to say it’s highly in question is a fair statement.
This looks like it will be a good trip.  Pack lots of shorts, because aside from an occasional cold outflow, most of the time we should be in the 80s and 90s F during the day and, at night, 60s early on and upper 60s to 70s later on.

I have had good luck this year in finding good places to eat, so aside from helping with the other stuff, I’ll endeavour to find us some yummy food.  My search for good burnt ends is in full force, too, so I may steer us to BBQ places that serve them, but I will try to include some variety as well.  Chasing will still be #1 and, if the only place we can get food once done chasing and lightning photography (I suspect this year will be perfect for it, BTW—warm evenings and storms going well into the nightttime hours) is Pizza Hut or Applebee’s, well, that’s fine too.  It’s storm chasing first, not eating.  That’s just a sideshow. :)
I plan on being at the vans around 7:15.  I have my 2 ham radios set up, charged and ready to go.

My laptop is good and ready to go—it’s an old workhorse, about 2011 vintage, but all the software is installed and updated.

I'm getting stoked for the trip.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

July 20 forecast

Day 1 (June 23): almost guaranteed to be a ravel day if we chase
NAM: TX panhandle/eastern NM
GFS: northeast NM/TX panhandle
GEFS: eastern CO/eastern NM/TX panhandle
GDPS: southeast CO
ECMWF: eastern CO/northeast NM
CFSv2: northern TX panhandle/northeast NM

Day 2 (June 24):
GFS: north-central NM
GEFS: northeast NM
GDPS: eastern CO/western KS
ECMWF: northeast N
CFSv2: northern TX panhandle/northeast NM

Day 3 (June 25):
GFS: southeast CO/northeast NM
GEFS: southeast CO/eastern NM
GDPS: southeast CO/southwest KS
ECMWF: south-central CO/north-central NM
CFSv2: eastern NM/west TX

Day 4 (June 26):
GFS: southeast CO or central AB
GEFS: eastern NM to western KS
GDPS: eastern CO/northeast NM
ECMWF: eastern CO or east-central AB
CFSv2: eastern NM or central AB to central MT

Day 5 (June 27):
GFS: central NE or central AB
GEFS: eastern NE
GDPS: eastern CO/western KS
ECMWF: western KS, southern MB or central AB
CFSv2: eastern NM, the Dakotas or southern MT

Day 6 (June 28):
GFS: eastern SD/NE to western MN/IA
GEFS: eastern NE/western IA
GDPS: central KS to central NE
ECMWF: northern KS to eastern ND
CFSv2: southwest KS to northern TX panhandle or eastern W/western SD

Day 7 (June 29):
GFS: eastern ND to eastern KS
GEFS: NE/IA border
GDPS: eastern ND/western MN to central OK
ECMWF: western NE or most of IA and IL
CFSv2: northwest NE/southwest SD

Day 8 (June 30):
GFS: western IA
GDPS: central IA
CFSv2: northwest NE/southwest SD

Day 9 (July 1):
GFS: most of NE
GEFS: northeasy KS
CFSv2: most of SD

Day 10 (July 2):
GFS: eastern MT to northeast CO to southern IA
GEFS: northeast NE to southwest MN
CFSv2: most of ND, southern SK, southern MB

It now seems model solutions are coming more into agreement, at least for the beginning of the forecast period.  As usual, this makes the departure date more complicated.  A few factors are coming into play.
  1. Models are in fair agreement that a pretty good setup is likely on June 24 and 25 in eastern CO and vicinity
  2. Models are in okay agreement that better setups will occur starting on June 26
  3. Models are showing some serious instability toward the end of the trip if we had a late departure
  4. Models get worse and worse the farther into the future you go

So do we go and get good storms and maybe really good storms, all while having to return when there's the conditional chance of some *great* storms, or do we leave a couple of days later, catch what will likely be really good storms and then unknown after (but models are saying it'll be really good)?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

June 19 chase forecast

This evening I had a bit of a peek at the model output before writing this, and it's still amazing to me, after all these years, how much things change from run to run.  The imminent tropical depression/tropical storm is such a big pattern changer that even small deviations in its track will make for big chase changes.

Day 1 (June 23):
GFS: eastern NM to central OK
GEFS: southeast CO/eastern NM
GDPS: AL to middle TN
ECMWF: northeast CO
CFSv2: northeast NM to central OK

Day 2 (June 24):
GFS: southeast NM
GEFS: southeast NM/southern TX panhandle
GDPS: the Carolinas?
ECMWF: central KS
CFSv2: eastern NM

Day 3 (June 25):
GFS: eastern NM
GEFS: southeast CO/northeast NM
GDPS: maaaaaybe western KS
ECMWF: Kentucky and middle Tennessee?
CFSv2: central AB

Day 4 (June 26):
GFS: eastern CO
GEFS: eastern NM to western KS
GDPS: southwest MB
ECMWF: AB elbow
CFSv2: south-central AB, SK/MB border to central SD

Day 5 (June 27):
GFS: eastern SD/eastern NE
GEFS: northeast NE
GDPS: central MN
ECMWF: central AB
CFSv2: southeast SD

Day 6 (June 28):
GFS: northeast CO to western WY
GEFS: southeast SD
GDPS: southern NE
ECMWF: central AB-central MT
CFSv2: eastern WY/western NE

Day 7 (June 29):
GFS: eastern WY/southeast NE
GEFS: southern MN
GDPS: southwest SD
CFSv2: southwest SD

Day 8 (June 30):
GFS: eastern KS/western MO
GEFS: southeast SD
CFSv2: northern TX panhandle

Day 9 (July 1):
GFS: eastern NE/southwest IA
GEFS: eastern NE/most of IA
CFSv2: southeast NM/southern TX panhandle

Day 10 (July 2):
GFS: central SD, NE/IA border, central IL
GEFS: IA/southern MN
CFSv2: southwest SD

So I'm a little skeptical about the moisture returning to Alberta the way some model runs depict it. There are 2 potential sources of moisture--advection and evapotranspiration.  Evapotranspiration is only maaaaaaybe just starting up at this point, so I don't think we can count on a big boost from it.  As for advection, models depict moisture being shunted southward to, alternatively, New Mexico, Texas or even the Gulf of Mexico.  Then it magically appears in Alberta?  I don't know that that's a reasonable thing to happen in such a short time.  So at this point it looks to me like farther south plays will be likely, in the higher(ish) terrain of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado; perhaps New Mexico is in the cards, too.  Later in the period the Gulf is forecast to open up and give a good stream of moisture to the southern and central plains.  This would mean better tornado chances, if better flow can get juxtaposed overtop.

Although a lot is inconsistent, I am encouraged by the consistency of the forecast of a) a mid-level trough acting on that airmass sometime in the June 26 to 30 range, and b) deep moisture return.

Details have yet to be ironed out but, as Pat said in a message earlier today, I'd maybe plan for (but not be 100% set on) a later departure.  The direction will be either west or south, and my money is on south.

Also of note, we have been doing these trips on and off since 2005.  I don't want to toot our own horns, but I will reluctantly do so: in all the years we've chased with this group, I can't remember more than 1 or 2 times when we've missed a forecast, and those times it was a forecast of marginal storms; the big stuff, we've nailed.  Our history shows that we almost always get to the best storm that is feasibly reachable for us.  I hope and plan to keep this streak going.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Long-range forecast, issued June 18, 2017

It's approaching midnight CDT, I have some free time so I'll do this again.

I can tell you that model runs, since yesterday's iteration fo this forecast, for the first few (potential) days of the trip showed craptacular chasing, with a reloading of the moisture and flow taking place.  If this should prove to be true, we would likely not leave on June 23, unless positioning required it.

Now, let's see what new guidance is suggesting for us.  As I'm typing this, I'm seeing the guidance I'm basing it on for the first time.  Just FYI.

Day 1 (June 23):
GFS: eastern NM
GEFS: eastern KS
GDPS: eastern CO
ECMWF: eastern CO/western KS
CFSv2: western KS

Day 2 (June 24):
GFS: central TX, central NM
GEFS: eastern OK/northwest AR
GDPS: western KS
ECMWF: southern OK
CFSv2: central NM

Day 3 (June 25):
GFS: central AB
GEFS: northeast NM
GDPS: southeast KS
ECMWF: maaaaaaaybe the southern TX panhandle
CFSv2: central AB

Day 4 (June 26):
GFS:  SK/MB border
GEFS: southwest KS
GDPS: southeast CO/eastern NM
ECMWF: central AB
CFSv2: southeast NM, western NE, central AB

Day 5 (June 27):
GFS: eastern SD, eastern NE
GEFS: eastern NE
GDPS: eastern CO
ECMWF: southeastern AB
CFSv2: eastern MT to western NE

Day 6 (June 28):
GFS: northeast NE to western WI
GEFS: eastern NE/western IA
GDPS: western KS
CFSv2:  western SD to western KS

Day 7 (June 29):
GFS: northern NE
GEFS: eastern NE/most of IA
CFSv2: western KS to northwest SD, northeast ND

Day 8 (June 30):
GFS: southeast SD/northeast NE
GEFS: eastern NE/western IA
CFSv2: central SD to TX panhandle

Day 9 (July 1):
GFS: northeast NE
GEFS: eastern NE to western WI
CFSv2: central OK

Day 10 (July 2):
GFS: northeast KS to southeast MN
GEFS: southern MN/northern IA
CFSv2: northern TX panhandle

So a couple of models take storms pretty far down south then fling the action into Alberta with an impressive upper trough.  If that were to happen we'd probably blow off the southern play.  A couple more like a lot of upslope in New Mexico and Colorado--perfect for really photogenic storms.  Yet more seem to key in on storms settling in for a few days in the central plains.  All of these are interesting scenarios, and the model spread thus makes it pretty much impossible to say which is more likely to happen.

It's funny.  Every year has its quirks.  The first few years, we were doing trips in July, which can be feast or famine, and we mostly had famine (relatively speaking).  Then we switched to earlier and we had some years with flow but no instability, instability with no flow, and then in 2015 we had a couple of good days, and one day in particular, where everything came together.  The models seem to be all over the place right now (as per usual) but the 2 things they're seeming to key in on is that, for at least some of our trip, there is likely to be a favourable juxtaposition of instability and shear.  The problem will be finding those areas and getting there.

Starting tomorrow, model solutions should start to converge on the most likely outcomes.  Decision time is still a few days away, and I honestly have no idea which way it's going to go--Friday departure or later.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Chase 2017 is on the horizon

I haven't posted in about 2 years here.  We do the chase trip every other year, and in between it remains dormant.  I'll endeavour to keep these posts going while a) we're gearing up for the trip and b) on the trip.  I can't make any promises, except that I'll try my best.

In the past, leading up to U of M storm chase trips I've done post after post outlining how the models suck at long-range forecasting, especially as it pertains to deep moist convection.  I will sort of do the same thing here, although it won't focus so much on how much they suck as what solution(s) they're converging on.  The reason is that, the farther into the future you go, the more wildly variable solutions can be.  Previous posts have gone way out to the edge of the models' temporal domains, but this one is going to start out in the realm of higher likelihood.

All that said, there's an extra wildcard thrown into the mix for these forecasts: tropical weather. Some model solutions depict tropical weather in the Gulf of Mexico over the next week or so. Tropical depressions are well known as processes that really mess things up in model land.  What this will mean, then, is that there is lower-than-average confidence in the forecasts outlined below.

Here are the various model solutions from the available guidance as of 11:30 PM CDT June 17, 2017 for the period beginning June 23, 2017.  Also please note that I have 10 days for a forecast, but our trip will only be 7.  What I'm doing down below will help us determine which 7 days we chase.  Not every day is having great storms depicted on every model, so I've put the best-looking location for at least decent storms.

Day 1 (June 23):
GFS: eastern KS
GEFS: eastern KS
GDPS: TX panhandle/southwest KS
ECMWF: eastern KS
CFSv2: southwest NE to eastern NM

Day 2 (June 24):
GFS: OK/TX border
GEFS: northern OK
GDPS: TX panhandle
ECMWF: southeast CO
CFSv2: eastern CO

Day 3 (June 25):
GFS: southern TX *OR* central AB (oy)
GEFS: eastern KS
GDPS: southwest TX/southeast NM
ECMWF: western SD or western NE
CFSv2: eastern CO/northwest KS

Day 4 (June 26):
GFS: TX panhandle to southeast SD
GEFS: western KS
GDPS: southeast CO
ECMWF: eastern KS
CFSv2: most of ND and SD

Day 5 (June 27):
GFS: southeast SD
GEFS: northeast KS
GDPS: southwest KS
CFSv2: southeast IA

Day 6 (June 28):
GFS: western SD/eastern MT
GEFS: northeast KS
CFSv2: western NE/northeast CO

Day 7 (June 29):
GFS: southwest MN/northwest IA
GEFS: northeast KS or Black Hills
CFSv2: southwest KS

Day 8 (June 30):
GFS: northeast NE
GEFS: Western-central IA
CFSv2: northwest KS/southwest NE

Day 9 (July 1):
GFS: eastern NE
GEFS: Western IA
CFSv2: most of NE/western IA

Day 10 (July 2):
GFS: northeast KS, eastern IA, eastern Dakotas, western MN
GEFS: Central SD
CFSv2: eastern NM

At this point, it looks like we will likely be chasing south of the 49th parallel.  This makes sense because, up to this point, deep moisture has yet to consistently make it north to Canada.  This is about the time of year when it really gets advected in, but right now it doesn't appear to be in the cards.  So please please PLEASE, remember your passports.

Aside from saying that we'll most likely be south of 49, it's tough to say exactly where.  There seems to be a somewhat consistent signal that the 23rd will be a KS day--and if we choose to leave that day, there's no way we'd be able to make it there in time.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Forecasts for far in the future: that's all, folks

I was going to do another forecast for long-range to super long-range, but a) I got busy doing other stuff, and b) I think I proved my point.

So now, let's focus on what the times and regions of general agreement are, as they will determine when we leave and what our initial target is.

At this point, it's a toss-up as to whether we leave Saturday or Sunday.  It appears a slumping cold front will stall somewhere in the central plains states and then rebound north as a warm front.  How far south this front goes before it stalls will dictate our first move.  If it looks like it'll go too far, i.e. away from the good upper flow, we'll hang out for a bit.  If it should stall beneath the good flow, then we'll leave earlier.

What is also in focus, now, is the general idea that there will be instability and shear juxtaposed, and they will likely come together for a good chunk of the trip, if not all of it.  Right now I don't foresee us chasing in Canada, but that could always change.  It looks like we will most likely be spending a good amount of time in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and maybe Colorado.  (If you think this sounds like a lot, ask me sometime about the time we decided to go for a walk in the woods.)

I'm cautiously optimistic.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Is today the day we get consistency?  Let's see.

Day 1 (June 20):
GFS: SD/NE/IA border
ECMWF: Eastern NE/western IA
GDPS: Eastern SD
CFSv2: NE/northeast CO

Day 2 (June 21):
GFS: Eastern NE/western IA
GEFS: Eastern CO/Nebraska/IA
GDPS: Western KS
CFSv2: Eastern CO

Day 3 (June 22):
GFS: Western SD to eastern NE
GEFS: SD/northern NE
ECMWF: Western NE to eastern CO
GDPS: Western Dakotas
CFSv2: Eastern MT to NW KS

Day 4 (June 23):
GFS: Western ND to northeast NE
GEFS: SD/eastern ND
ECMWF: Eastern WY
GDPS: Eastern Dakotas
CFSv2: Western SD to northeast KS

Day 5 (June 24):
GFS: SW Nebraska to central WI
GEFS: SD/eastern ND/MN/IA
ECMWF: Eastern WY
CFSv2: Western NE to central IN

Day 6 (June 25):
GFS: Eastern WY to northern IL
GEFS: Eastern WY to northern IL
ECMWF: Western NE
GDPS: Southern SD
CFSv2: Southern IA to western NY (hahaha)

Day 7 (June 26):
GFS: SE MT to northern IL
GEFS: Eastern WY to northern IL
CFSv2: Southern SK to western SD

So the day 1 model runs are pointing rather consistently now to a pretty good show in the eastern Dakotas to eastern Nebraska.  After that, though, there's pretty much no consistency.  This is more or less a hallmark of a zonal flow--little wavelets will cause most of the weather.  If there were a big trough out west or, much worse, a big trough out east, then the models would be pretty consistent in depicting that--the models have a tendency to be good in the more amplified situations and not so good in the less amplified ones.

This is pretty encouraging, I think, because a zonal flow means that moisture won't be a problem, but it'll just be the timing of the flow/waves/lift.  The problem with that, though, is that it may involve quite a bit of driving from one day to the next.  (Although not necessarily.)