Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 7:42AM CST

2013 storm season blog kickoff; forecast for March 26 - April 10

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With April almost here, it's time to get ready for the start of the 2013 storm chasing season! It always feels good to start this season sub-blog series, even though we all are still waiting for storm season to show up in the actual world.

Last year, it seemed like the weather was one month ahead of the calendar. Severe weather began ramping up at the end of February, with the first major outbreak of the season arriving on March 2. This year, the opposite is true - the upper patterns act as if they're running a month *behind* schedule. April arrives next week, and still, long-term springlike temperatures (daily highs above 65°F) for the lower Midwest aren't showing up with any consistency on long range models for as far out as they go (2 weeks).

Good moisture for thunderstorms will be trying to make its way north in the coming weeks, and the higher sun angles will be doing all they can to heat things up. However, the stubbornly powerful upper pattern looks to be quashing hopes for good thunderstorm/supercell events. Upper-level flow should remain largely westerly to northwesterly over the center of the country. This will keep impeding the northward progress of moisture, and reinforce cooler temperatures for the foreseeable future.

The only item of interest is a shortwave trough ejecting across the country next Wednesday, shown by the Euro model for a couple of runs (and to a lesser extent the GFS). This pattern, if it happens, will likely not have much moisture to work with in the low levels aside for the far southern states (Texas to Georgia). It may have enough to bring some thunderstorms to the Plains and lower Midwest, however, maybe even a diamond-in-the-rough as far north as the Red River in TX/OK. It's something I watching simply because there's not much else to right now. There's certainly nothing showing up to get excited about for any long-distance chases.

2013 chase plans

This season is going to be a "go with the flow" type of year. By that, I mean I have no definite plans to travel far outside of my 'backyard zone' (roughly 3 hours from home). I'm cautiously hoping for a Plains run or two if a setup impresses me enough, but work obligations and local severe weather events are my more important concerns this season. I'll just leave it as "wait and see".

As far as vehicle preps go, there's not much to talk about, other than picking up new tires sometime in the next couple of weeks. All of my "chase support systems" (power, internet, WxWorx etc) are already installed and operational, so I'm not planning a traditional spring vehicle work session.

Plains trip probability table

As with past years, I'll keep the Plains trip probability table going for this season. These values are not always indicators of the meteorological merits of a particular setup, but a combination of that and my willingness/ability to go chase it. That said, these are about 80% based on the perceived chase value of a pattern. Starting out, 2013's probabilities are about as low as they get for the start of a chase season! The lack of any good pattern on the 'model horizon' has my confidence in a Plains trip happening by mid-April pretty low.

2013 Plains Storm Expeditions - Probabilities as of March 26
March 26-310%
April 1-50%
April 6-102%

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