Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Humidex much?

I'm amazed at the heat and humidity over southern Manitoba today.

At 2:00 PM CST, Winnipeg is 34/25, giving a humidex of 46. But right now, the winner is Carman, west of the city. 33/30 (30 dewpoint!) giving a near-all-time-Canadian-record humidex of an amazing 50. 50. 50. Wow.

Severe thunderstorm watch is in effect. we'll look for storms now.

Here are the obs:

METAR CYWG 251000Z 18024G33KMH 15SM SKC 24/22 A2971 RMK SLP058 SKY00=
METAR CYWG 251100Z 18028KMH 12SM FEW060 24/22 A2971 RMK SC1 BR SLP058 SKY00=
SPECI CYWG 251149Z 18015KMH 12SM BKN007 BKN060 RMK ST3SC1 BR SKY48=
METAR CYWG 251200Z 19013KMH 12SM BKN008 24/22 A2975 RMK ST6 PRESRR BR SLP071 53010 SKY89=
METAR CYWG 251300Z 17019KMH 15SM BKN008 25/23 A2976 RMK SF6 SLP074 SKY89=
METAR CYWG 251400Z 17026KMH 15SM BKN009 26/23 A2974 RMK SF3 SLP066 SKY47=
SPECI CYWG 251435Z 17026KMH 15SM FEW012 RMK SF1 SKY13=
METAR CYWG 251500Z 19017G33KMH 15SM FEW014 28/24 A2975 RMK CU1 SLP070 58001 SKY11=
METAR CYWG 251600Z 18032KMH 15SM FEW040 29/24 A2972 RMK CF1 CF TR SLP062 SKY00=
METAR CYWG 251700Z 20022G32KMH 15SM FEW150 32/25 A2971 RMK AC1 SLP059 SKY00=
METAR CYWG 251800Z 18030G39KMH 15SM FEW040 FEW150 33/25 A2971 RMK CU1AC1 CU/AC TR SLP057 56012 SKY00=
METAR CYWG 251900Z 21026KMH 15SM FEW040 34/25 A2970 RMK CU1 SLP054 SKY11=

WNK SA 0800 AUTO8 M M M M/23/23/1715\M/M 00MM=
WNK SA 0900 AUTO8 M M M M/23/23/1713\M/M 77MM=
WNK SA 1000 AUTO8 M M M M/22/M/1713\M/M 4MMM=
WNK SA 1100 AUTO8 M M M M/22/M/1711\M/M 3MMM=
WNK SA 1200 AUTO8 M M M M/23/M/3407\M/M 0MMM=
WNK SA 1300 AUTO8 M M M M/25/25/1407\M/M 55MM=
WNK SA 1400 AUTO8 M M M M/26/26/1619\M/M 00MM=
WNK SA 1500 AUTO8 M M M M/28/27/1617\M/M 59MM=
WNK SA 1600 AUTO8 M M M M/29/27/1807\M/M 44MM=
WNK SA 1700 AUTO8 M M M M/31/28/1713\M/M 93MM=
WNK SA 1800 AUTO8 M M M M/32/29/1615\M/M 69MM=
WNK SA 1900 AUTO8 M M M M/33/30/1713\M/M 17MM

Friday, July 20, 2007

Good day yesterday; cap and dry today

Yesterday we caught some beautiful storms in eastern Alberta.

Today, there's a) a brutal cap and b) no moisture.

We're coming home.

I hope everyone enjoyed the trip. I certainly did.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Waiting in Stettler

We're sitting and taking time to look at the data here in Stettler. It looks good over a huge region. What to do?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Weather modification

We're currently at the Olds-Didsbury airport, out of which operate the weather modification people. We got a tour of the facility and the RADAR is pretty cool.

We're also close to our target area, and I see a severe thunderstorm watch is now up.

Tomorrow could be huge. The PASPC has highlighted this in their significant weather discussion, even though they don't often mention day-2.


Frustrating but not bad day

I've been short on the updates. Sorry about that.

We're in Red Deer again, and it looks like we may be in Red Deer again tonight, depending on a couple of factors.

Yesterday we ended up chasing the foothills. That's a frustrating experience, because the road network leaves something to be desired. We saw some beautiful storms, but couldn't get to the best one north of Nordegg because of no roads.

Today is interesting because
a) there's a big thunderstorm going through the area this morning
b) there's a gigantic wave coming into the area aloft this afternoon
c) the moisture is ridiculously high for this part of the country--dews in the low 20s in Alberta is nearly unheard-of.

So today, we're going to have to do a thorough analysis, and figure out where the boundaries are. We have moisture, we have instability, we have shear, and we have triggers galore. I am concerned about there being **too** much lift with the wave coming in and everything blowing up into a giant MCS. But we play with what we get. And maybe we'll catch a boundary and have a fun day.

Tomorrow looks equally awesome, or awesomER (but not most awesomest, like some would say) in about the same area, maybe a bit farther east (thank goodness--roads!)

We'll see...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Day 3 morning

We finally caught up with COD. Een though the spotter network link isn't working, trust us--we're in Red Deer.

Today doesn't look all that great, with big CAPE but a building ridge. We'll see what happens. We'll likely be in the same area tomorrow.

Monday, July 16, 2007


We're playing leapfrog with the COD. Jay is still driving (I was supposed to, but the data acquisition got in the way). We're on our way to Olds, as are Paul and the gang.

This wave coming in is pretty potent. I just hope it's not **too** potent, lest storms go up every which where.

Dewpoints are creeping back upward, and they're already pretty darn high for Alberta.

Chase on...


We're about 20 minutes away from Brooks (where's Dunn?) Gas, bathroom, lunch, and then the briefings. I have some definite ideas about where we're going to be going, and hopefully the data (when we get them) will bear that out.

COD is about 45 minutes behind us. This is a first, I think--usually we're catching up to them. I talked to Paul this morning, though, and they're interested in the same region as we are.

MCC (aka A-rock) came up with a good rap yesterday, and I heard it this morning in the van. I think it will require a public performance, but I think it will require the right timing. That's all I will say about it.

It's a little drier here in southern Alberta. Dewpoints are 11 or 12, but as we go north the moisture increases.

Yesterday there was baseball-sized hail from the storms that formed. Hopefully we can catch such a storm (over unpopulated and undamageable territory, of course) today. Or tomorrow. Or even better, AND tomorrow.

Not too many pictures are being posted today--just ten. Yesterday the chase potential didn't pan out, so most of the pictures are people pictures. And one neat sign that I missed somehow.

25 km outside of Brooks, and there's something closed the road--looks like a major accident, and traffic is detouring all over the place.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Swift Current

Well, we're at the Super 8 in YYN. We decided to blow off the stuff in SE SK and moved this way. Good thing--there wasn't much there.

We're looking west. We think we know where to go and why, but in the interest of not telling the students, we won't say exactly where. Let's just say we're going to Alberta tomorrow. Somewhere north of Calgary, I think.

If you're a student on the trip and reading this, I want you to tell me tomorrow what it will be we're chasing and why it's important.

What to do?

We have passed the frontal system. It's now blasting into ND. How about setting up for tomorrow, and keep an eye to the towers now going up? Methinks we're going to do that soon.


We're now in Saskatchewan. Oxbow, to be exact.
We did some briefings in Melita. While that was going on, Pat and I went to find a wifi signal. (Speaking of which, they're all over the place near Oxbow!) 3000 CAPEs, 50 to 60 knots of shear, including 30 knots of 0-1 km shear. COD is just south of us, on the international border. They're waiting for initiation, too.
We shall see.

SW Manitoba...

We have decided to take 15 minutes out of our time and check out some of the damage from the tornado on June 23. We're going to go by Hartney.

The T/Td are now 20/14. Good sign, along with the cu forming all over the place...

Freaks on the road?

Just had our picture taken by some people in a van, just west of Portage.
Speaking of Portage, I got a LOT LOT LOT of wireless signals in town. I tried to latch onto one but because we were moving the whole time (who has EVER gone through Portage and not hit a light/train?!) so I couldn't upload the blog with my posts.
It's raining pretty hard here. I just hope that, when we make our stop in Brandon, we don't get soaked. Had I been able to pick up a wifi signal, I could have figured it out.


43700. That was Chase 1's approximate starting mileage.
We got off from U of M well, after a quick stop at Timmy's.
We're on our way to Brandon, going for a data stop and, likely, food.
Pat just commented that the crops look like a storm chaser's dream--the vast yellow fields, the wheat heading out. (Heading out where, I said.)
I talked to Paul Sirvatka from the College of DuPage, and they're right now sitting in Minot (why not Minot?). Their big decision is exactly the same as ours: north or south of 49?

Leaving soon...

Well, we're about an hour away from meeting at the U of M. I have a pretty good idea where we'll be going for all 5 days, but I don't want to rely on models too much--that is, I don't want to trust them.

This trip should be good, as we have moisture in place everywhere. I talked to my mom last night and, in her and dad's drive between Calgary and east-central Saskatchewan, they saw nothing but very healthy fields--and that means evapotranspiration.

Also, the group is very good, as usual. We should have a good time.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Last pre-trip forecast: go west, young people

Well, the consensus seems to be west of Winnipeg. Good thing, too, because east is a bad choice for storm chasing territory. :P

July 15: Melita, MB (GEM), Melita, MB (NAM), Grand Forks, ND (GFS), Estevan, SK (NGM), Edmonton, AB (NOGAPS), Minot, ND (ECMWF) or Devil's Lake, ND (UKMET).
July 16: Bismark, ND/Val Marie, SK (GEM), Edmonton, AB (NAM), Coronation, AB (GFS), Vermilion, AB (NOGAPS), Lethbridge, AB (ECMWF) or Edmonton, AB (UKMET).
July 17: Missoula, MT (GEM), Havre, MT (GFS), Red Deer, AB (NOGAPS) or Lethbridge, AB (ECMWF).
July 18: Calgary, AB (GEM), Leader, SK (GFS), Medicine Hat, AB (NOGAPS) or repositioning (ECMWF).
July 19: Missoula, MT (GEM), Glacier, MT (GFS), Medicine Hat, AB (NOGAPS) or Havre, MT (ECMWF).

The models still seem to be in disagreement about the exact locations, but the patterns are more or less agreed upon--the upper ridge location will be west of Winnipeg.

The most difficult things we're going to have to deal with in terms of forecasting during this trip will be a) the strength of the cap and where it will break, b) where the shear will be best. We have moisture, and we will have instability. Lift will likely be provided orographically (except the first day, which likely looks like a ND/MB/SK day). The storms we get over Alberta will be photogenic; they always are. We may need to drop down into the USA, so bring appropriate papers.

See you tomorrow! We'll be contacting you today about when.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Forecast the penultimate (well, not really, but of this kind)

I'll have one more go at it tomorrow, but I think you've gotten the point. Over the past week the models have gone from an OK pattern to a grim pattern to an AWESOME pattern to an OK pattern and are now back at a pretty good pattern.

July 15: Brandon, MB (GEM), Dauphin, MB (NAM), International Falls, MN/Pincher Creek, AB (GFS), Calgary, AB (ECMWF) or Edson, AB (NOGAPS).
July 16: Glasgow, MT (GEM), Glasgow, MT (GFS), Lethbridge, AB (ECMWF) or Calgary, AB (NOGAPS).
July 17: Mobridge, SD/Missoula, MT (GEM), Medicine Hat, AB (GFS), Brooks, AB (ECMWF) or Lethbridge, AB (NOGAPS).
July 18: Missoula, MT (GEM), Havre, MT (GFS), Brooks, AB (ECMWF) or Lloydminster, AB (NOGAPS).
July 19: Havre, MT (GEM), Saskatoon, SK (GFS), Esther, AB (ECMWF) or North Battleford, SK (NOGAPS).

So there we have it. All indications point west, except for a possible more local chase on day 1. Keep your passports (or necessary documents) at the ready, as we might need to dip into the US.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Forecast 6

Only a few days till the trip!

Let's see what la-la land the models are up to today.

July 15 (Pat's birthday): Melita, MB (GEM), Emerson, MB (GFS) or Grand Forks, ND/Red Deer, AB (ECMWF).
July 16: Williston, ND (GEM), Yorkton, SK (GFS) or Saskatoon, SK (ECMWF).
July 17: Repositioning (GEM), Lethbridge, AB (GFS) or Lethbridge, AB (ECMWF).
July 18: Missoula, MT (GEM), Medicine Hat, AB (GFS) or Lethbridge, AB (ECMWF).
July 19: Havre, MT (GEM) or Glasgow, MT (GFS).

Still no agreement. And rest assured, the places where the good (read: bad) storms will be will certainly not be where the models have pegged them now. Maybe one day here, one day there, but consistently? Forget it. That's why we go back to my old favourite, and let's say it all together now: analysis, diagnosis, prognosis.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Forecast 5

As we get closer to the date, expect the models to converge on a solution. A caveat, though: just because the models have a solution, it doesn't mean they have the right solution.

(Although based on today's runs, I hope they **are** right.)

July 15: Red Deer, AB (GEM), Havre, MT (GFS), Calgary, AB/Winnipeg, MB (ECMWF) or Lethbridge, AB (NOGAPS).
July 16: Calgary, AB/Bismarck, ND (GEM), Medicine Hat, AB (GFS), Regina, SK/Calgary, AB (ECMWF) or Calgary, AB (NOGAPS).
July 17: Calgary, AB (GEM), Red Deer, AB (GFS), Lethbridge, AB (ECMWF) or Cut Bank, MT (NOGAPS).
July 18: Glasgow, MT (GEM) or Dickinson, ND (GFS).
July 19: Red Deer, AB (GEM) or Winnipeg, MB (GFS).

What was the David Bowie song? Ch-ch-ch-changes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Forecast 5

So here we go again. I took a peek at the model runs last night and, once again, they flip-flopped, still indicating that they have no idea what they're doing.

Sense a pattern here?......

July 15: Glasgow, MT (GEM), Great Falls, MT (GFS) or Calgary, AB (ECMWF).
July 16: Calgary, AB (GEM), Lethbridge, AB/Boulder, CO (GFS), or Medicine Hat, AB (ECMWF).
July 17: Great Falls, MT (GEM) or Denver, CO (!) (GFS).
July 18: Great Falls, MT/Hill City, KS (GEM) or Rocky Mountain House, AB (GFS).
July 19: Red Deer, AB (GFS).

Just look at the day-to-day changes.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Forecast 4.1

On Pat's information, I thought I'd put in an addendum to my forecasts.

Get your passports ready.

One set of model output from the GFS suggests there may be some Colorado magic (tm) to play. The CAPE and shear look not too bad, and after that even Kansas and Nebraska look not too bad, although the CAPEs might not be as balanced off by shear.

Whatever the case is, it'll be an interesting trip!!!

Forecast 4

It keeps a-changin'.

July 15: Medicine Hat, AB (GEM), Minot, ND (GFS) or Calgary, AB (NAEFS).
July 16: Minot, ND (GEM), Rocky Mountain House, AB (GFS) or Calgary, AB (NAEFS).
July 17: Hinton, AB (GEM), Rocky Mountain House, AB (GFS) or Calgary, AB (NAEFS).
July 18: Calgary, AB (GEM), Glendive, MT (GFS) or Calgary, AB (NAEFS).
July 19: Havre, MT (GFS) or Red Deer, AB (NAEFS).

I think I'll drop the NAEFS. It's smearing things out too much and giving me a climatological mean. Tomorrow I'll start using the ECMWF.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Forecast 3

Well, it has changed a lot.

July 15: Repositioning (GEM), Minneapolis, MN (GFS) or Rocky Mountain House, AB (NAEFS).
July 16: Calgary, AB (GEM), Repositioning (GFS) or Calgary, AB (NAEFS).
July 17: Regina, SK (GEM), Rocky Mountain House, AB (GFS) or Glasgow, MT (NAEFS).
July 18: Medicine Hat, AB (GFS) or Swift Current, SK (NAEFS).
July 19: Yorkton, SK (GFS) or Calgary, AB (NAEFS).

And I want to note that, for these forecasts, I'm using the 00Z run. But the 12Z runs are available for me to look at, and let me say: what a difference! Whereas on the 00Z GFS run, there was maybe just the Twin Cities for the 15th, and marginal at that, the 12Z run has a pretty darn good setup in Saskatchewan. Just goes to show...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Forecast, part deux

Remember, this is all model-based and is likely to change a lot.

July 15: Lethbridge, AB (GEM), Moose Jaw, SK (GFS) or Calgary, AB (NAEFS).
July 16: Roblin, MB (GEM), Rocky Mountin House, AB (GFS) or Calgary, AB (NAEFS).
July 17: Kindersley, SK (GFS) or Medicine Hat, AB (NAEFS).
July 18: Emerson, MB (GFS) or Swift Current, SK (NAEFS).
July 19: Smoky Lake, AB (GFS) or Red Deer, AB (NAEFS).

Already we've got big changes, and it's still way out there. Further, we're using the same 2 models for most of the period that we did yesterday--and to me, this just belies the fact that, in this long range, it's nigh on impossible to forecast where the severe thunderstorms are going to be.

But hopefully, wherever they are, there we will be too.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Forecast for the trip, version 1.0

Here's the start of it. I'll use available models and indicate which model is indicating which target.

GEM = the Global Environmental Multiscale--Canadian model. Out to 48 hours it runs in a "regional" configuration where it focuses on North America. Its usefulness after 48 hours drops rapidly because the outer boundaries of the domain start to have an influence after that time. Its weakness, I think, is that its convective feedback tends to be too strong. That is, sometimes it'll deepen or move lows too quickly because of latent heat release it sees but is not actually there.

GFS = Global Forecast System--American model. It forecasts on a global domain out to 16 days into the future. Its usefulness is primarily in forecasting long-range patterns. It tends not to have too much in the way of convective feedback, but once in a while...

NAM = North American Mesoscale--American model. It forecasts on the domain of North America and environs. It seems to have the worst convective problems out there. American forecasters often discount its output as farcical, especially over the past year.

UKMET = United Kingdon METeorological--British model (obviously). It has numerous domains, one of the North America. It's used often in a "let's have a look" way. I don't know too much about it, as I rarely look at its output.

ECMWF = European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts, out of England. It is one of the stand-outs in terms of getting good verification on its long-range forecasts.

RUC = Rapid Update Cycle--American model. This model is on a small domain and runs out to as long as 24 hours. It ingests all kinds of surface data and is run hourly. It's okay, but I find people put too much emphasis on it and not enough on real-time weather information for their short-term forecasts.

NAEFS = North American Ensemble Forecast System--a joint venture among Canada, the US, and Mexico (although so far as I know, Mexico doesn't yet run a model to be input into the system). A bunch of perturbed runs of the GFS and the GEM are fed together and statistics are calculated on it--the mean, standard deviation, and so on. The true weather tends toward the ensemble mean, but by definition an ensemble system is horrible at predicting extreme events. This does not too badly at forecasting the upper flow, although it tends toward a humdrum solution after about day 5.

There are other models--NOGAPS, COAMPS, NGM (aka No Good Model), and many others I'm not mentioning. They, and ALL models, all have one main weakness: they're not as good as human forecasters.

Obviously, I have limited model access, so I will use synoptic setups as my pointers to severe weather locations.

July 15: Kindersley, SK (GEM), Yorkton, SK (GFS) or Melfort, SK (NAEFS).
July 16: Rapid City, SD (GFS) or repositioning (NAEFS).
July 17: Vegreville, AB (GFS) (with the giant pysanka!) or Calgary, AB (NAEFS).
July 18: Regina, SK (GFS) or Calgary, AB (NAEFS).
July 19: Regina, SK (GFS) or Calgary, AB (NAEFS).

So what this is suggesting is west of here. Pat and I were talking this week and he seems to think that this makes sense in a climatological sense, in that Alberta hasn't yet gotten their fair share of severe storms yet this year--that they're due. He also does a model-blend forecast (secret herbs and spices) he calls Pat's Ensemble (PE) and for the 5 days it says that west is the place to go, young man.

The models seem to want (at this time) to establish a southwest flow over the continent--what I call a storm chaser's flow. We'll see what tomorrow's runs bring...