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DAY 6: Lexington, Kentucky chase
We observed storms around the Lexington, Kentucky area on Thursday, a convenient target on our way home from our first Plains storm observing expedition. We watched a cell develop just northwest of town that quickly condensed a nicely-shaped wall cloud complete with inflow tail. The storm was racing to the NE, and with few road options to intercept, we let it go in favor of more development moving toward us from the SW. We watched the original storm move north with rock-hard convection punching through pileus caps. The structure down low looked great and I wish we could have stayed with it - but 40mph NE storm motions and Kentucky roads do not mix. This storm soon began hooking in on radar with long-lived rotation markers on both WxWorx and GRLevel3, and was tornado warned for at least 2 hours as it moved into Ohio.
We hung around Lexington to wait for the action from the south to move in, which quickly lined out before arriving. We stayed ahead of the storms east along I-64 all the way to the WV state line. Despite intermittent tornado and severe warnings for this line, we saw nothing visually to get excited about. A shelf cloud and a few nice CGs were the only items of note.
Near Morehead, Matt got a decent lightning strike on video that produced a bright orange glow on the mountainside where it hit. I'll post that and a few other shots sometime soon.
We just spent the night at my house in Charleston, and we'll be leaving here in a few minutes for Raleigh so Matt can return home.
The 2007 season is in stark contrast to 2006. Last year, we were stuck in an extended dead severe weather pattern, watching for any glimmer of hope on the models. This year, the start of May is looking so active that it looks like our problem will be picking the best of a number of good storm setups. We've already bagged three tornadoes, and our normal standby period hasn't even arrived! Since we're still technically in 'travel mode', I haven't had time to look at the models in detail. What I do see is a major trough setting up out to the west, which could mean an active severe weather pattern sometime during the first ten days of May. While this is encouraging, it's a little too early to go back out after we've just arrived home. I'd prefer to wait a little longer if necessary, but we'll keep a close eye on the upcoming system nonetheless. All that said, I'll stick with equal probabilities to all weeks in our upcoming standby period.
Based on the current outlook, this probability table charts the chance of our trip starting on a particular date:
|2007 Storm Observing Expedition - Departure Date Probability as of April 27|
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