Magdalena Storm Chase: Day #1 Predictions

Hey, today is looking a little better than I expected.  We still have a long day ahead of us.

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has issued an Enhanced Risk area today for central Texas, as shown below:

Associated with the Enhanced Risk is a 5% Tornado Threat Ring.  The 5% ring is out of play for us, but it is surrounded by a 2% Tornado Ring.  There is even another 2% ring in southeastern Colorado.

A quick glance at the surface observations shows exactly what I’d want to see on a storm chase day, with the exception of the cloud cover.  Most of Texas is cloudy, but warm and humid.  The dewpoints are in the 60s F, and the winds are streaming in from the Gulf of Mexico.

The visible satellite imagery shows that most of Texas is under early-morning cloud cover.

Watching this loop a few times, I was able to pick out a slight boundary, which I highlighted in yellow.

Wondering if it is a trick of the brain, I went ahead and looked at the enhanced water vapor imagery, and it stands out on this image as well.  It appears farther north and west, but remember, all boundaries have a thickness to them- and the water vapor sensor is just looking for water vapor, and doesn’t particularly care how high in the atmosphere it is detected.

The 12 Z upper air sounding from Amarillo, TX,  is behind the boundary, and it shows.  Cool (53 F), capped, and dry air everywhere but the very surface.

The 12 Z  upper air sounding from Midland/Odessa, TX, shows a much richer atmosphere, with better moisture, 2793 J/kg of Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE), -162 J/kg of Convective Inhibition (CINH), and a small capping inversion.  The shear, however, is lacking, with only 7 kts of low-level shear and only 25 kts of deep-layer shear available.

The HRRR Simulated Reflectivity shows cells popping along the US-287 corridor, but then one cell all by its lonesome down near Midland.

The HRRR Helicity Swaths plot shows one tiny patch of helicity there, too.  Shear/helicity are one of our limiting factors today, so we’ll take it.

Don’t see the helicity swath?  Here, maybe this image will help:

The trick today is to get south and east of the boundary that shows up on the visible satellite imagery.  It will be hard to do, based on the distance we have to travel.  Then, the trick is to find the most southwesterly cell today, because I think things are going to congeal quickly with the limited shear.

I am tentatively targeting Midland, TX, hoping to get a little south and east of there.  Realistically, I bet we only make it to Andrews, TX, or so.   Maybe from there, we’ll see a dying supercell at sunset, with some lightning and mammatus.

If the front stalls, perhaps we get an evening supercell.  I’m much more optimistic about today than I was yesterday.  I also see we have a Slight Risk in place for Day 2.  That’s a good sign as well.

Thank you for reading my post.  I will update as I can.

About highplainschasing

This blog is about my tales in storm chasing. My name is Seth Price and I am an instrumentation instructor at New Mexico Tech. My amateur radio call sign is N3MRA.
This entry was posted in Possible Chase Opportunity, Practicing Concepts, Predictions, Satellite Imagery, Severe Weather and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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