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Tuesday, November 8 chase bust and thoughts
I actually put in some storm photography miles today - my first more-than-2-miles-from-home chase since August 19. It ended up being an "0-0 chase" (not a single photo frame or second of video shot). The setup today, not surprisingly, was a complete bust. I normally wouldn't bother posting about such a non-eventful day (particularly in light of Monday's tornadoes in Oklahoma), but since this blog has been so void of weather content for the last 3 months, I figured it wouldn't hurt to at least go into some of the forecasting details I looked at for the day.
I didn't want to spend the $300 or so in gas that it would have taken to photograph storms Monday's Oklahoma play, so instead I chose to take Tuesday off from work for the setup in Missouri. As the years go by, I'm getting less and less willing to do long marathons for expeditions, even for a good setup like Monday's. And despite the rather epic tornado show that happened down there, I don't regret not going. Maybe that's age talking, hopefully more like wisdom - or at least I'd like it to be that. Oddly enough, I was more bummed about missing the earthquakes down there than the tornadoes. As I've said before, these days, I like going for the 'underdog' setups that few others will be covering. And so, I picked Tuesday to photograph storms here.
My original target going into Tuesday was the deepening surface low expected to be somewhere west of St. Louis by sunset. A powerful southwesterly upper jet streak was forecast to move overtop of the low by late afternoon, resulting in rapid deepening of the low. If some clearing could have happened in advance of the low early on, there was a chance for some rotating storms if convection could get going. I had anticipated ending up around Columbia, MO had that happened. Instead, the area of rain from the previous day's activity pushed in and overspread the region, killing the instability potential and the surface low play. All that was left was some breaks in the clouds along and south of I-64 in Illinois, ahead of the precip shield and far removed from the good wind profile associated with the surface low.
In a nutshell, the setup busted to the point that I resigned to just stay home and at least enjoy the day off. Around 4:00PM, radar showed a few cores along the leading edge of the precip shield intensifying southeast of St. Louis, in one of the few areas that saw any sunlight. Despite the short period of sun, instability and the resultant storm risk was low - but I headed out to Nashville, IL to get in front of these cells just to get a "expedition" in for the day. To make a long story short, these never amounted to anything. There was never any lightning or storm structure, only dense rain shafts and nothing worth stopping and breaking out a camera for. I was back home a little over an hour later.
The GFS model shows another trough plowing through the US next week, with a strong upper jet and decent surface moisture bringing a slight chance of another storm photography day for St. Louis on Monday. I'll post more about it later if models stay with that forecast going into the weekend.