2013 Storm Chase Conclusion-Some Incredible pics by Trevor White included!

My storm chase experience concluded on Thursday as we returned to Blacksburg after 16 + hours of driving. Our last chase day we ended up close to Houston, Texas, allowing us to take the southern route back home through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. 

I had trouble keeping updates going due to the shear intensity of 4 straight chase days(3 straight moderate risk days).

It was easily one of the craziest and most rewarding  experiences of my life solidifying my love and passion for observing, studying, and experiencing the atmosphere. 

Here’s a few photos shot by Trevor White on our chase. Many more to come! 

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I’ll be writing a blog story on the Hokie Storm chase for Earth Magazine. Make sure to check back and read all about the experience. Topics to be covered: Day in the life of a storm chaser, forecasting tools used, chase mode(positioning), what it is like experiencing these massive supercells, what it was like being in Oklahoma during the Moore tornado(the feelings associated), etc. 

Good luck to the second trip crew as they departed this morning! Hope they get to see and experience what the first chase experienced! 

Nick 

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Day 8, Headed to south west Oklahoma

Havent been able to update too much because the last few days have been incredibly intense and filled with all day chasing. We intercepted several incredible supercells, but have yet to bag that tornado.

Hoping to get the monkey off our back today in Oklahoma! Ill give a more detail update plus pictures on the last days of my trip in a few days!

Nick

Day 5 Moderate Risk , hoping for tornado intercepts!

Currently stationed in North Platts, NE. A moderate risk for severe weather has been issued in our area down through Kansas with a hatched tornado threat in NW kansas. we are probably goin to hedge towards NW KANSAS in hopes of intercepting discrete supercells and tornadoes.

Best set up of the year, and we are right in the middle baby.

Going to be an intense couple days. hope to have some photos this evening!

Nick

Day 4 Salina Kansas to North Platts Nebraska

Stayed in Salina Kansas last night after a long travel day from north Texas. we are headed to North Platts, Nebraska in hopes to potentially catch some firing cells closer to the South Dakota border. The main reason we are headed that way is to position ourselves for a potential awesome chase day on Saturday along the I-80 corridor in central Nebraska. set up looks great for discrete supercells and possible tornadoes.

The play after Saturday is still up in the air. the spc is expecting a widespread severe weather day, with a bullseye in Kansas and oklahoma, but it extends northward through Missouri and southern Iowa. Too early to tell where we’ll end up after Saturday.

Depending on which route we take we’ll either pass the worlds largest ball of twine or the world’s largest concrete prarie dog. Honestly not sure which I’d rather see, but im sure my mind will be blown either way.

Try to update as much as possible, but may be tough next couple days as chasing will become intense.

Until then,

Nick

Day 2 Supercell intercept in Decatur,Texas

Well what an absolute wild chase day. We left Little Rock, Arkansas at 8 am and headed for the Red River border between Oklahoma and Texas. We had targeted Vernon, Texas down through Graham Texas and west of Wichita Falls as a potential area for discrete supercells to fire along a sharping dryline bulge. Around 2:30 PM the SPC issued a 5% tornado chance in this exact area. Our forecast was on point. We knew we needed to get to the dryline, and watch the radar to try and position ourselves. About 6 hours later we were south of Oklahoma City maneuvering through clusters of storms(some of which severe) firing off in SW Oklahoma. We caught a real nice cloud structure as we came around the backside of one of the cells.  Radar indicated some rotation on this cell.

Wall cloud, SW Oklahoma.

Wall cloud, SW Oklahoma.

Around 3:15 the SPC issued an MD outlook for our target area. Again, they were expecting discrete supercells with some tornadoes possible. As we crossed the red river we began to see cumulonimbus development along the dryline. A Cell fired up and we started chasing it. We were trying to manuever around the the southeast side of the cell. Velocity was showing clear mesocyclone development and rotation. the cell eventually became tornado warned for over an hour as we chased it.

Unfortunately we never were able to get entirely ahead of the storm, but we got some great views of the massive storm. It had incredible colors(eerie dark green), the updraft was insane to watch, and the rotating wall cloud was so wild to me it almost wasnt real. I stood there in awe, chills running down my spine, just an unexplainable experience. We did not see any tornado, mainly because there was too much rain spiraling around the area where a tornado could be seen, along with trees blocking the view, and daylight dwindling. Authorities have yet to do damage assesment, but we talked to a local who had a family member witness a tornado on that cell cross the road about 5 miles away from us.

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Today is a travel day, there is a possible setup friday into saturday up in South Dakota, but also a potential setup in Oklahoma and Kansas on Sunday. We decided to head towards Nebraska today, wait for more current model runs and then make a decision. if we run for South Dakota, we are pretty much stuck in Northern plains rest of the trip.  However, if we wait for Kansas, it may be a jam of chasers since itll be the weekend and the first legitimate severe weather setup of the year. Noone would be up in South Dakota.

Ill give a quick update this evening!

Nick

Day 2 9:45 Update> headed to western North TEXAS

Leavin Arkansas and headed towards the Red River.

A slight risk of severe weather in Western North Texas was issued this morning with large hail and gusty winds the main threat. a few tornadoes are also possible. We are lookin at the region runnin west of Fort Worth, south of Atlus, Ok, running down towards Grham Tx down to Stephenville, Tx. seein a bulge in the dryline, hoping to catch some discrete supercells in that region(possibly a tornado, with backing winds showing in that area).

Hopefully its a good chase day and storms fire along the dryline!

Ill try to update later, but could be a long night!

Nick

Day 1 5:45 Update> headed to Little Rock

Departed at around 9 am this morning. We’ve been travelin through Tennessee for several hours now, heading towards west of Little Rock, Arkansas.

The Target 

Wednesday looks marginal at best for supercell development.The Texas panhandle looks to be the best possible setup, along the dryline. unfortunately it isnt feasible for us to make it that far. the SPC outlook(1:30 pm) outlined the chance for supercell development in southern oklahoma(near the texas border). Depending on Thursday’s outlook, we will probably be headed there.

Bout to cross the Mississippi River in the next few hours. Something I thought I would only ever see in an airplane…

-Nick

 

 

Departure May 14, 2013 @ 8 am!

Tomorrow is the day I’ve been waiting for over a year now. Since changing my major from business to meteorology I’ve been waiting to embark on the Hokie Storm Chase with my fellow meteorology peers. I couldn’t make it last summer because I had to finish up 12 straight weeks of physics. I was quite disappointed knowing I would need to wait an entire year to embark on this journey out west. I just craved chasing incredible storm structures that you just can’t see here on the east coast. But I knew soon time would come.

At this point I still do not know where we will be headed, however our trip leader, Dave Carrol, is expecting possibly a day 2 intercept(May 15). Although I am a novice severe weather forecaster, I am personally seeing anywhere from South to Central Texas(ample CAPE, theta E ridges, southerly jet streak(40 + 0-6 km shear), decent low level shear(15-20 knots 0-1 km shear, dry line formation, 60 plus Dewpoints, backing winds at the surface, veering wind profiles) through Oklahoma(similar dynamics, not as favorable 0-6 km shear in place. Kansas may be in play too(but wind dynamics are lacking as of now).

I don’t see any reasons why Thursday and Friday can’t be chase days as well.

But Saturday is shaping up to be a potentially incredible day. Way better bulk shear is being foretasted, ample cape, high theta E advection, plenty of moisture, strong low level jet, from Texas through Oklahoma and Kansas. Again, the models can always change, and I am only a novice forecaster(looking forward to the incredible experience this trip is going to give me.), but I am extremely excited for this weekend’s potential!!

So here we are, the day and time of departure is upon us. I venture to foreign elements. I have no idea what to expect from a scenery standpoint, cultural standpoint, and storm structure standpoint. But I promise you this, my passion for meteorology is about to shine through!

Check back for updates  and hopefully intercept pictures(on my 2013 Hokie Storm Chase page) throughout the entire trip!

Nick Luchetti

“Some feel the rain. Others just get wet.”