Saturday, June 04, 2005

on the road chasing...

something chuck doswell wrote a couple of years ago is ringing true to me. that is that meteorology is the same no matter where you go.

not a profound statement, i know, but hear me out.

people say to chuck all the time that he's "so lucky to live in oklahoma because the storms there are so much more (fill in the blank)". well, i think that's a load of bullplop.

today we busted bigtime. i'll get into that in a little bit, but i want to flesh out my first point right now. with the chase bust, though, i saw a lot of formations in the sky, a lot of motion, a lot of dynamics. this is, however, no different from anything i've ever seen while chasing in the dakotas or the prairies. no better and no worse. not more impressive, nor more explosive. meteorological science holds up all over the earth, and if you have the same ingredients coming together, whether you're in enid, oklahoma or tuktoyaktuk, northwest territories, you're going to see similar things.

now to the chase bust.

things looked good today. we were under a high risk of severe thunderstorms according to the spc. the high risk included a fairly solid shot at some long-track violent tornadoes. from my analysis i had 2 concerns: 1, that when the storms fired up, they would be moving fairly quickly--the tropospheric winds were such that any storm would move at about 35 knots, or 65 km/h. that's fast. 2, that the surface winds in the zone of terror were not backed, that is, more southeasterly or easterly as opposed to the southerly that they in reality were, and my concern was that this would lead to more linear formations of convection, rather than discrete storms with persistent rotating updrafts.

well, we busted. the winds didn't back enough. there was little cap. there was too much lift and cape. looking back on it, hindsight being 20/20, i should have played the cape vs. shear game--in which it seems the shear almost always wins. i busted in june of 2003 over manitoba and north dakota because of pretty much the exact same thing. so next time i play the cape vs. shear game, remind me that shear seems to win out.

by the way, this was my first real experience with chaser convergence. i think i saw a total of 100 chasers, maybe more, over the course of the day. 100!! the most i'd ever seen before in one day was about 25--when the college of dupage and the verkaiks met up in davidson, sk, with myself and a group of colleagues from toronto.

so what did i learn today? trust my own forecasting skills. i let paul influence me a bit too much today, partly because i have so little experience in the central plains, and partly because i **wanted** a high risk over the area, even though in retrospect it looked not all that great.

tomorrow, i'm on shift. because of that, there's a moderate risk over eastern south dakota.


well i guess there'll always be more storms. they just seem so few and far between these days.....


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