Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Monday, June 15, 2009 - 11:50PM

Summer storm pattern ahead

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The jet is forecast to be hanging around our region in the next few days, which will bring the chances for organized severe weather to home territory (Kentucky, Ohio and WV). At least one storm chase day either west or northwest looks likely, although I may not need to go anywhere most days according to some of the model runs. Wednesday looks the most interesting to me so far, for which the NAM is showing 4500 J/kg CAPE under nice upper level support in central Kentucky, precip holding off until late afternoon, and more than likely some boundaries hanging around. The model may be overdoing some of that instability, but nonetheless it's rare to see those numbers in Kentucky.

In other news items:

New US 35 section opens
Storm chasing and photography trips into southern and central Ohio are getting easier and easier! A 9-mile section of the 4-lane US 35 from Teays Valley to Buffalo opened today, which along with the new I-64 interchange will shave some significant travel time off of my trips northwest into Ohio (and beyond, including Indianapolis and Chicago). This new section leaves the gap from Buffalo to Point Pleasant in WV as the only remaining two-lane section of US 35, as all of the highway has been upgraded to 4-lane through Ohio now. My first few chases into Ohio many years ago meant negotiating some pretty hairy 2-lane sections between Teays Valley and Chillicothe, so it is great to see the upgrades happening.

Sky cover issues
Thanks to a frontal boundary lingering around, hazy low-level moisture and cirrus blowoff from Midwestern storm complexes, skies have not been conducive to any scenic photography recently. It may be a while before I can resume work on any of that. Once we get a nice frontal passage to clean out the low-level moisture, I'm planning on a two or three day camping/photography trip across the state to fill in the remaining subject gaps I need.

Plains season staying bad to the end
And finally, the remnants of the Plains tornado season continues to be a bitter time for most storm chasers who are still out. Tornadoes are happening, but they are not coming easy for most who are out trying. The best action has stayed far west into Colorado, while supercells are playing a tough game in their normal central/southern Plains hangouts. It is doubtful that I would have seen much, if anything, had I decided to go out for a second trip this month. No breaks when it comes to expenses either - higher gas prices and much longer westward drives are elevating chase costs for the latter half of this season. What I would have had to do this season reminds me a lot of what my 2003 chases were like - I traveled long and hard that season, more than any other year before or after - determined to get just one tornado (which didn't happen). I've accepted the fact that I may go tornado-less this year, and from the looks of things I'm not alone. I'm still remaining optimistic for a couple of good fall events come September-November, when tornado season makes its climatological Midwestern 'secondary' peak. As I've said before, tornado season in the USA never really ends, it just moves around from month to month. If I don't get any Midwestern chances this fall, I may go after the climatological southern US tornado season that starts in December!

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