Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Sunday, March 31, 2013 - 6:05AM CST

Storm Chasing & Photography forecast update for March 31 - April 15

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After one more cold episode early this week, long-range models seem to agree on this irritatingly persistent winter finally letting go. By next week (the 8th/9th) a more springlike western troughing/eastern ridge configuration (albeit brief) is shown setting up, allowing higher surface 'theta-e' to increase across the Plains and Midwest (theta-e is a figure that reflects the combined dewpoint and temperature or 'juicyness' of the low level environment). Aloft, a strong southwesterly jet overspreads this low-level environment, setting the stage for what looks like at least one half-decent chase opportunity.

What I don't like about the upcoming pattern is that it looks like it's coming in a little too far south (possibly limiting opportunities into central/southern Texas). It is also looking a little 'cutoff-ish' rather than a big powerful trough that strengthens and pushes east. 'Cutoff lows' (midlevel circulations separated from the main jet) that spin slowly eastward tend to be messy rainmakers that, in my experience, don't provide very many good storm chase days.

All that being said, I'm looking at a possible Plains trip for the April 8-9 timeframe. If what is shown materializes, a western/central Kansas/Oklahoma play could be in the cards. This isn't a setup I would take time off of work for, but I will consider it if things begin changing for the better.

Event or not, at least mid-60°F+ daily highs are shown finally taking over for the long term by mid-April. While not unexpected for this time of year, it's certainly good to see after what we've dealt with over the past month.

The following table charts the probability of a Plains storm chase expedition happening for several indicated date ranges in the near future:

2013 Plains Storm Expeditions - Probabilities as of March 31
April 1-71%
April 8-915%
April 10-1515%

Best of luck this chase season Dan...Hopefully we can meet up in the field some day...As always....Event Safe!
- Posted by Tom Stolze from O'Fallon, MO

Thanks Tom!
- Posted by Dan R. from New Baden, IL

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