Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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Storm Highway by Dan RobinsonClick for an important message
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                   Thursday, March 29, 2007 - 11:04AM

On the road in the Great Plains

2007 Event Blog Kickoff

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It's that time of year again! The 2007 storm season is winding up, with March already mustering some unusual early-season tornado outbreaks in the Great Plains. And for us, that means it's time to start planning and preparing for our annual chase to 'Tornado Alley' during the peak severe weather season centered around late May.

Tentatively, our four-man team this spring will consist of myself, my brother Matt Robinson from Raleigh, North Carolina, Tom Mullins from Charleston, West Virginia, and William Coyle from Virginia Beach, Virginia. As usual, we've blocked off the May 1 - June 15 time frame for our annual standby period, during which we will be prepared to leave at a moment's notice at the first sign of good severe weather conditions taking shape out west.

The 2007 Plains trip blog format will be slightly different this year, with the posts related to the chase being 'grafted' in with the rest of the Storm Highway storm season blog. All posts relating to the chase will appear in this specially designed frame, making the separation from the normal posts a little easier.

Kansas tornado during Event 2005As with last year, we'll be revisiting the departure date probability forecast excercise, with which we'll try to visually depict our thoughts on which date that we're thinking of heading west. The departure date probability will be largely based on long-range forecast models that we use to watch for the hints of an upcoming severe weather pattern. At this point, we are way out of range of even the most far-reaching forecast models for May 1 and beyond, meaning that all dates during our 'standby period' currently have an equal chance of being the time we will actually leave. This year, I'm also tossing in the possibility that we may leave for a short trip in late April if a significant multi-day outbreak appears likely. So, here it is, the first departure probability table for Storm Chasing & Photography Expedition 2007:

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

2007 Storm Chasing & Photography Expedition - Departure Date Probability as of March 29
April 21-3010%
May 1-1022%
May 11-2022%
May 21-3122%
June 1-1522%
No trip2%

In regards to the tornado outbreaks seen in the Plains this week, I'm still standing by my assertion that waiting for May is a better bet for most storm chasers. Outbreaks of such quality and interceptability, as the examples in recent days, are not the norm for March - as past years have proven true. Of course, nature does not follow climatology, so anything is possible when the atmosphere deviates from the norms. But such a deviation from the norms is an anomaly, something that will not happen every year and therefore something we can't expect. It's the same reason that we don't plan to go storm chasing out west in January!

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