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                   Sunday, March 7, 2010 - 2:59AM CST

More spring hope; upcoming season notes

By DAN ROBINSON
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As temps surpass 60°F for the first time since November and some weak thunderstorms pass by about an hour to my north this afternoon, I've got the living room window open reading the 12z models (the 'morning' outputs) - which paint an increasingly nicer scenario for the coming week. While a large eastern trough is taking shape for later next week, it is associated with a southern stream jet - with the northern stream way up in Canada, keeping the Arctic air confined far to the north of the US. This means that despite another bout of northwest flow over the central US, there is no truly cold air close enough for this system to pull down, and therefore no threat of winter weather for the foreseeable future. The sun angle is also our friend here, working harder and harder to keep temperatures from the freezing point despite any cold upper pattern.


GFS 500mb pattern for Saturday

The moisture and warmth continue to move northward. The latest temps forecast by both the NAM and GFS show the warmup, with several small chances for convection each day. Right now, Wednesday seems to hold the best potential for thunderstorms in the St. Louis area, with some instability showing up to the west in the afternoon.


NAM temperatures for Wednesday


NAM CAPE for Wednesday

For observing, this pattern isn't anything to get excited about - but it's a sign that we truly are in the 'meteorological spring' season of change.

Upcoming season notes

  • We're only a little over 3 weeks away from April 1, the more 'official' start of tornado season when I start gearing up for the annual journeys out to the Plains. Sometime around that point I'll bring back the 'storm season' sub-blog for 2010. This season will probably feature at least one or two multi-day expeditions made more feasable by the shorter drive.
     
  • As with most pre-seasons, there are several chase-related work items I need to perform on my truck - and if all goes as planned, this will take place at the Raleigh house sometime in the next few weeks. The house is going on the market soon, and as such this will be the last 'Raleigh clean-out and vehicle reconfiguration' at that location. The main items for Raleigh include:
     
    • Hardwiring in the old power console. I still have the 7500-watt inverter rig I built for my Freestyle, but I hadn't installed it in the Ranger yet due to me not wanting to drill holes and do permament mods to my new truck. Well, after a year, the 'new vehicle' complex has faded in favor of necessity. My small inverters aren't handling the laptop very well, and the cigarette plug contacts are beginning to have issues. The idea is to attach hooks to the old rig and simply hang it on the panel under the rear window - at least that's the plan. Then, I'm running heavy guage wire up to the fuse panel for a dedicated/fuse-protected power connection, freeing up the cigarette plugs and getting all of the wires back behind the seats. The setup will essentially be the same as I had back in my Freestyle.
       
    • Perma-mounting the Jotto desk. I currently have the Jotto attached to the seats using steel cables and turnbuckles, just like a guyed radio tower. This avoided having to drill holes in the floor, but it's not very stable. The cables stretch when the laptop load is attached, and after a long day of use, it becomes wobbly.
       
    • Redesigning the dashcam mount. My present mount supported the camera only by the tripod screw. A few months ago, after a year of constant use, the vibrations proved too much and the tripod screw broke away from the camera base. Now it is held in place with velcro adhesive, which is not holding well. The plan is to add a rigid frame to the mount to hold the camera at the top and at the bottom.
       
    • Weather instruments. I'm undecided about whether I want to install a couple of my OS wireless instruments and its display panel. I'd like to at least have temp/humidity sensors. This is a lower-priority task that I'll only complete if I have the extra time.

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