Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Saturday, April 20, 2013 - 4:54AM CST

Storm Chasing & Photography forecast update for April 20

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There is not a whole lot to talk about regarding Great Plains trip setups for the near future. Models show that a strong upper jet should be present over the Plains and Midwest starting this weekend, with at best west-southwesterly flow and more likely westerly flow at the midlevels. The problem is that the upper system that just moved through has sent another cold front to the Gulf of Mexico, shunting good low-level moisture offshore once again. This means that deep moisture may not make it far enough north this weekend to underlay the upper support. There will be enough 'juice' to support modest severe storms, however, but this isn't looking like anything worthy of a storm chase expedition to the Plains. Furthermore, severe weather risks will exist equally in the Midwest, providing more reasons to stay close to home in the short term. In the long ranges beyond this, models don't indicate anything of interest on the horizon. Therefore, the probability of another Plains storm chase expedition before May 1 remains low.

April 17-18 recap: Due to a busy week, I neglected posting about forecasting the system that just finished moving through the Plains and Midwest earlier this week, so I'll briefly touch on it here. This system featured simultaneous Plains and Midwest tornado targets on Wednesday, plus an additional tornado setup Thursday. This was thanks to a strong upper trough moving in overtop of the first truly deep moisture of the season and along/south of a quasi-stationary frontal boundary. When a simultaneous Plains and Midwest scenario happens, I will almost always choose the Midwestern target for reasons I've discussed before (less chaser traffic, opportunity to catch a tornado close to home that few others will see, etc). This is true for me even if the Plains setup is considerably better than the Midwestern one. Wednesday featured a tornado threat in Missouri just as 'legit' as the one in the Plains, which made it a no-brainer to not jump on the setup in Oklahoma. For a short time, it appeared I might be making it across the border into Kansas on Wednesday, which would have technically made it a Plains trip. Aside from that semantic possibility, I never really considered a Plains storm chase expedition for this system.

The following table charts the probability of a Great Plains storm chase expedition for the indicated date ranges:

2013 Plains Storm Expeditions - Probabilities as of April 20
April 20-251%
April 26-305%

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