Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - 5:12PM EDT

Not impressed yet

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Observing
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The 12Z model runs are now out, and I still don't see much to get excited about for next week. The trough is shown digging a little further south now, which is better than yesterday's outlook. However, the trough itself is a shadow of what we really look for. The flow around it does not look particularly strong, and it really seems to want to fall apart about mid-week. Moisture is still going to be an issue too. Another big player is a cold front likely being the primary forcing mechanism, which favors linear storms rather than isolated supercells. This looks eearily similar to May 22-26 of last year, but a little further south. Beyond next week, nothing of interest is showing up on any models.

Some might say I'm being too pessimistic, but remember, we have four of us traveling more than 1,200 miles to make it to the Plains. We are dealing with a high cost/low risk level to make the trip next week. Those who live in Oklahoma/Texas/Kansas have the luxury of being optimistic about next week, because it only costs them a tank of gas a day to observe storms whatever comes up. For them, it's either a low cost/low risk expedition, or a low cost/high risk chase - low cost either way. Our cost is high either way, low risk or high risk - so naturally we wait for the higher risks. If I lived out there, I'd be more excited about next week too, because I wouldn't have much to lose by going out. We do have a lot to lose if we come home empty-handed. If we waste the last of our trip funds on next week, only to have a banner tornado setup take shape in early June, then we'd really regret it.

Moisture problems, capping, cold frontal forcing, weak winds aloft and a short window of opportunity (only one or two storm observation days) - those are just too many negatives with next week's setups for us to make a major trip for it. Now I'm not saying that there will definately not be tornadoes next week - there very well might be. But again, the chances are just to low for us. It's the whole high cost/low risk thing.

Barring a significant strengthening of the forecast trough and improved moisture issues for next week, we'll still keep our attention to the possibility of something showing up in early June.

Based on the current outlook, this probability table charts the chance of our trip starting on a particular date:

2007 Weather Expedition - Departure Date Probability as of May 16
May 16-180%
May 19-2510%
May 26-June 220%
June 3-1545%
No trip25%

25 Years of Storm Observing
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