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  1. Post
    #1

    Storm Chasing USA 2008

    Hi all,

    I'm off to the Great Plains of North America next Saturday 3rd of May with Andy from Ohio for over a month and hope to update this thread with photos, videos on a daily basis. Would love to share this adventure with GP forums!

    I'll give a little introduction why this region is the nastiest place in the world for severe storms...

    First of all, the major geographical feature which sets up tornado alley is the Gulf of Mexico.. a massive pool of moisture laden warmth. Now the Great Plains once used be under water all the way up into Canada millions of years ago. With the Gulf we also have the Rocky Mountains which sets through Mexico to western Canada. This acts as a huge funnel and sucks the moisture out of the Gulf into the Plains behind warm fronts. Then you get troughs of low pressure coming out of Washington/Oregon in the Pacific NW.. which returns upper-level southwesterlies over the alley states like Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska. This is shown by the jetstream depicted above. Add into the equation dry air coming out of Mexico and the Southwest deserts, which pushes under the moist air and collides creating massive shear important for the formation of tornadoes.

    I'll give a few definitions i'll be using quite a bit which'll make probably not much sense to you.

    CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy) - A measure of the amount of energy available for convection. CAPE is directly related to the maximum potential vertical speed within an updraft; thus, higher values indicate greater potential for severe weather. The highest i've noted over NZ (Northland) is 1400 joules/Kg. In USA it can get as high as 8000j/Kg in extreme cases like the May 3 1999 deadly Oklahoma outbreak. For more on this with a sounding: here

    Cap (Convective Inhibition) - The CINH acts as a lid to store energy - and once the CINH is overcome by a source of lift, the stored energy can be rapidly released. Think of a lid on a pot of boiling water. As soon as you remove the lid, the steam rapidly rises upward. If the CINH is too high, it is almost impossible to overcome. As a rough rule of thumb, if the CINH is higher than 300 J/kg then you will not get storms. Of course there are exceptions. With a good source of lift (front, vorticity, divergence) 150-300 J/kg is probably the sweet spot, given enough instability and moisture.

    Shear - A sudden change or "veering" in wind direction and/or in speed vertically and/or horizontally. In the lowest 100 mb of the atmosphere, the winds tend to "veer", or turn in a clockwise direction with height, because of the decreased effects of friction.

    Dew point - The temperature to which air with a given quantity of water vapor must be cooled to cause condensation of the vapor in the air. The higher the better - important for tornado forecasting on a synoptic scale.

    Dryline - The narrow boundary separating hot, dry, southern Rocky Mountain air from very moist Gulf of Mexico air. The dryline's daily eastward movement, under the right conditions, can trigger severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

    Hook echo - The hook echo is one of the classical hallmarks of tornado-producing supercell thunderstorms as seen on weather radar. The echo is produced by rain, hail, or even debris being wrapped around the supercell.

    Supercell - A supercell is a severe thunderstorm with a deep, persistently rotating updraft (a mesocyclone). Supercell thunderstorms are the largest, most severe class of single-cell thunderstorms.

    Wall cloud - A wall cloud is a cloud formation. It is a lowering beneath the rain-free portion of a thunderstorm, and indicates the area of maximum updraft. In the special case of a supercell thunderstorm, the wall cloud will often be seen to be rotating

    Gust front - Leading edge of a mass of relatively cool gusty air that flows out of the base of a thunderstorm cloud (downdraft) and spreads along the ground well in advance of the parent thunderstorm cell; a mesoscale cold front.


    SPC - http://www.spc.noaa.gov/ The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) at Norman, Oklahoma is a part of the National Weather Service (NWS) charged with monitoring and forecasting severe weather over the 48 continental United States. Risk areas are issued by the SPC and come in five varieties and are based on the expected number and intensity of severe thunderstorm reports over an area:

    A SLIGHT risk implies well-organized severe thunderstorms are expected but in small numbers and/or low coverage. Within a slight risk area, 5-29 reports of 3/4 inch of larger hail, and/or 5-29 reports of damaging wind gusts, and/or 3-5 tornadoes.

    MODERATE risks imply a greater concentration of severe thunderstorms, and in most situations, greater magnitude of severe weather. Within a moderate risk area, at least 30 reports of hail 1 inch or larger, or 6-19 tornadoes, or numerous wind events (at least 30 reports that likely would be associated with a squall line, bow echo or derecho).

    The HIGH risk implies that a major severe weather outbreak is expected, with great coverage of severe weather and enhanced likelihood of extreme severe (i.e., violent tornadoes or very damaging convective wind events). Within a high risk area, expect at least 20 tornadoes, with at least 2 of them rated EF3+, or an extreme derecho causing widespread wind damage, with numerous higher end wind events (80+ mph) and structural damage reports.

    Though one shouldn't expect to see multiple destructive tornadoes on a month long chase.. these things are VERY hard to catch. Also storm chasers must keep in mind the ethical business of it, it's hard to watch mother nature at her most amazing when it's ripping people's lives apart.

    Here's a random video compilation, starting to get pretty amp'd!


    Has been a very active day over West-Central Texas today.. a MODERATE risk has been posted for central portions of Kansas and Nebraska tomorrow. See: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/day2otlk.html

    Cheers,
    Willo

  2. Post
    #2
    Have fun be safe

  3. Post
    #3
    Nice man!

    That would be one ****ing awsome thing to do make sure to keep us updated

  4. Post
    #4
    Maybe we can start collecting for your funeral now?

    jk. GLHF

  5. Post
    #5
    haha you lucky bastard. Have fun, looking forward to the pics.

  6. Post
    #6
    Awesome! hopefully this thread is as epic as it was last year - Make sure the photo's are as good as they were last year I need a new wallpaper

  7. Post
    #7
    Tame-Iti wrote:
    Maybe we can start collecting for your funeral now?

    jk. GLHF
    Haha Travel insurance is a must in the states... don't wanna fork out the $$$$$ if anything does happen.

  8. Post
    #8
    sweet - keep me up to date with your locations (will you run the tracking app with the GE KML updates?)- as i said last year, i've spent over a year in the red area of your map

    Have fun, hope you chase some good ones

  9. Post
    #9
    Your work is always impressive.

  10. Post
    #10
    I lived in Indiana for five years (2nd state over from Iowa, east)

    We got quite a few tornados and shit during the storm season, I love the rain there, so much heavier/brutal.

  11. Post
    #11
    Sounds like fun, you posted all those photos last year right? My brother in law has worked as a meteorologist in the States, loves this kind of stuff.

  12. Post
    #12
    zmbi wrote:
    I lived in Indiana for five years (2nd state over from Iowa, east)

    We got quite a few tornados and shit during the storm season, I love the rain there, so much heavier/brutal.
    which part of Indiana - I have some friends west of Fort Wayne (around Warsaw)

  13. Post
    #13
    good luck!! i want to see some awesome photos!! GLHF!!

  14. Post
    #14
    Argh, tornadoes haunt my nightmares.

    Look after yourself.

  15. Post
    #15
    Yeah is it the same guy?

    The last set from someone doing this were amazing, good luck!

  16. Post
    #16
    enigMa wrote:
    Yeah is it the same guy?

    The last set from someone doing this were amazing, good luck!
    Yeah - he posted some good pics last year, including some from around where the small Kansas town got destroyed IIRC.

  17. Post
    #17
    SafT wrote:
    which part of Indiana - I have some friends west of Fort Wayne (around Warsaw)
    Crawfordsville!

    Drive 5 minutes in any direction and you're in a corn field!

    Town high lights: Movies, Walmart.

    Things to do: drugs, guns, arrest, gb2/nz/

    It was probably a bad place to grow up, but the stories were worth it.

  18. Post
    #18
    Sounds awesome dude. I wish I could go. Be safe and have fun.

  19. Post
    #19
    I'm keen on trekking across to the USA for a year or so.

  20. Post
    #20
    Looks awesome man! Are you working up until you leave? I might come see you before you go if that's the case
    wants to see the auckland city council asap

  21. Post
    #21
    You should have gone to florida. There was a storm there every day when I went about a week ago.

  22. Post
    #22
    I hope you die by tornado !#$@#$@$#@#$@#4 hehe I'm hoping to do this in a couple of years Please PLEASE get lots of pics and shit, i'm so jealous.

  23. Post
    #23
    BURN_BABY wrote:
    You should have gone to florida. There was a storm there every day when I went about a week ago.
    Florida has a tremendous storm season.. but these storms are small in width and non-supercellular due to a lack of continental features. There are two tornado seasons there, June to Sep with weak F0-F1 tornadoes in the summer, and February to April in early spring.. usually stronger tornadoes spawn from squall lines and cold fronts.. deadly as they often occur at night.

    marzbar Looks awesome man! Are you working up until you leave? I might come see you before you go if that's the case
    Yep sure am!

    will you run the tracking app with the GE KML updates?
    Hopefully.. Andy sells off footage for the newscasters like CNN etc.. so he tends to stay away from the other chasers and likes a bit of secrecy to hide his position. I'll try and persuade him.

  24. Post
    #24
    Don't forget to take some awesome pictures like last time

    Or even a vid

  25. Post
    #25
    Hel!calect!c wrote:
    Florida has a tremendous storm season.. but these storms are small in width and non-supercellular due to a lack of continental features. There are two tornado seasons there, June to Sep with weak F0-F1 tornadoes in the summer, and February to April in early spring.. usually stronger tornadoes spawn from squall lines and cold fronts.. deadly as they often occur at night.
    Heh, knowing my luck, the tornado was probabily just over the Walt Disney World area

    Anyways, good luck on ya trip man, sounds like a helluva lot of fun

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